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College majors that boost your paycheck
Computers and engineering offer the highest starting salaries; prospects for class of 2006 look hot.
August 17, 2005: 10:15 AM EDT
By Steve Hargreaves, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Knowing history is important, lest you repeat it. And everyone appreciates a film major when discussing directors over dinner.

But when it's time to switch from paying tuition to collecting a paycheck, nothing will lock down a starting salary like these three majors: Engineering, engineering and engineering.

Actually, make that seven engineerings.

Some type of applied science degrees make up seven of the top ten majors that receive the highest starting salary, according to the National Association of Colleges & Employers' (NACE) summer 2005 salary survey.

Chemical engineering was the highest paid major, with an average starting salary of $53,813, followed by computer engineering at $52,464 and electrical engineering at $51,888.

The rest of the list, in descending order, is aerospace engineering, systems engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, engineering technology and information sciences and systems.

And those salaries are going up too.

Offers for engineering technology graduates rose 4.2 percent over the same time last year. Aerospace engineers saw a 6.2 percent increase and industrial engineers saw their starting salary offers rise 7.7 percent.

Accounting majors, while not a field to see one of the highest starting offers, saw their starting salary bids jump 6.1 percent. Sales saw a 6.3 percent increase and those in the teaching field saw a 0.9 percent rise.

Nevertheless, it appears engineering majors and others among the top paid graduates will also make more over the course of their career.

The mean wage for engineering managers in 2004 was $102,600, according to the Department of Labor. Computer and information system managers made $98,260, sales managers made $95,000 and education administrators took home $75,640.

Looking ahead to 2006, one career center employee said job prospects look even better for next year's graduates.

"We're already starting to see more activity and I think it's a national trend, " said Sharon Masaniello, assistant director of New York University's Office of Career Services. "The economy is getting better, so it makes sense."

Masaniello said engineering, technology and financial services will continue to be hot fields, but also said they are seeing a pick up in the advertising profession and in companies hiring across departments, not just in the growth divisions.

Who's hiring?

NACE's summer survey also included a list of the top 10 professions for the class of 2004-2005 and the starting salaries:

1. Management Trainee (Entry-Level Mgmt.) -- $36,491

2. Sales -- $37,269

3. Consulting -- $48,098

4. Teaching -- $30,793

5. Accounting (Private) -- $43,003, Accounting (Public) -- $42,366

6. Financial/Treasury Analysis -- $44,501

7. Design/Construction Engineering -- $45,734

8. Software Design & Development -- $52,471

9. Project Engineering -- $47,827

10. Registered Nurse -- $41,156

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