Your college degree: Making the most of your education investment
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Your college degree: Making the most of your education investment

New York City : NY : USA | Sep 15, 2012 at 10:57 AM PDT
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Nobody has to tell you that a college degree comes with a stiff price tag. College tuition is sky-rocketing, and according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the national student debt is currently at $914 billion, a jump of 10 billion dollars in the last three months. So why are U.S. students still going on the hook for a college education? Because according to a report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, a college graduate with a bachelors degree will earn 84% more over the course of their working lifetime than someone with a mere high school diploma.

But for students who are just starting their college careers it is important to remember one very important fact: all college degrees are not created equal. In the world of employment, some college degrees carry greater worth than others. Because a college education represents such a major investment, why not do the research and find out how you can meld your passion with a plan that will yield both career satisfaction and monetary reward.

A quick survey of current employment reports underscore the fact that college graduates with degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related disciplines are at the top of the earning heap, both in entry level jobs and in long term earnings projects. Take a look at a sampling of some of these careers:

  • Chemical engineers: median starting pay: $64,500; median mid-career pay: $109,00
  • Electrical engineers: median starting pay: $61,300; median mid-career pay: $103,000
  • Materials science & engineering: median starting pay: $60,400; median mid-career pay: $103,000
  • Aerospace engineer: median starting pay: $60,700; median mid-career pay: $102,000
  • Computer engineer: median starting pay: $61,800; median mid-career pay: $101,000

In addition to rating high on the pay scale, these professionals also boast high employment rates -- something not to be taken lightly in today’s tough job market. Consider this:

  • Petroleum engineers have median starting salaries of $98K per year, with a median salary mid-career salary of $120K per year, and 95% of graduates holding a degree in this field are employed.
  • Geological engineers have equally high starting and mid-career salaries, and almost 100% of degree holders in this field are employed.

Talk about a great return on your education investment!

Of course, STEM-World isn’t for everyone. Students who opt for majors in the humanities and social sciences can get a good return on their educational investment.

"Whether it be sociology, or political science, or anthropology ... anything that helps you understand people's behaviors and trends in behaviors, I think those would be good majors for people who aren't as analytically focused," says one employment expert.

And while the salaries for these fields may not be as high as those in STEM-based professions, a snapshot of careers in the social sciences shows some solid earning potential.

  • Government: median starting pay: $41,400; median mid-career pay: $87,300
  • Political science: median starting pay: $39,900; median mid-career pay: $80,100
  • International relations: median starting pay: $40,500; median mid-career pay: $79,400
  • Advertising: median starting pay: $37,700; median mid-career pay: $74,700

"Research what skills are most valuable in the labor market … and depending on those 'hot skills' you can also obtain a certificate that will provide you skills that will set you apart," advises an employment specialist. And looking at some of the data from this recent study, that’s smart advice.

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From: Tsar Kasim
ksssann is based in New York, New York, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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