Posted November 16th, 2010
NEW YORK, NY (RNN) - By the time college students are ready to start looking for that first job, one of the most critical factors in their job hunting success will have long since been decided. Experts say the single most important factor in determining employability and potential earnings is the choice of college major.
What majors pay big?
According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), almost $40,000 separates what the average college graduate can earn in the first year of employment versus what the highest-grossing majors can.
NACE says eight of the top 10 highest-paid majors are in the engineering field. Occupying the No. 1 spot is petroleum engineering, with a payout of $86,220. The average entry-level salary across all majors is $48,351.
Rounding out the other two non-engineering spots on the survey are information sciences and systems, and Kamar's chosen major, computer sciences.
Kathleen Hamilton of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University said engineering has been near the top for a number of years.
The Polytechnic Institute's numbers have sharply increased, but Hamilton attributed that to the school's recent affiliation with NYU. Auburn now has 1,000 more students than it once did, but those numbers reflect a decade-long increase.
And those numbers could be skewed, because graduate school enrollment typically increases during a recession.
Barbara Hall, acting dean of student affairs at NYU Poly, attributed these statistics to a lack of understanding about career opportunities in these fields among students.