Design Engineering

It pays to be an engineer finds study of most valuable degrees

By DE Staff   


Personal finance website’s ranking of the most valuable degrees puts engineering in 7 of the top 10 slots.

According to a recent study by personal finance website,, it pays to be an engineer in today’s economy; more precisely, an engineering degree provides the best bang for your tuition dollar in terms of typical salary and job stability. In the website’s listing of the Most Valuable College Majors, which ranks 162 university degrees, the Bankrate study found that 7 of the top 10 most valuable are in engineering.

Pulling from 2017 U.S. Census Bureau data, the study placed Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering at #1, with a median income of US$90,000 and an unemployment rate of 1.6 percent. That degree was followed by #2 Nuclear Engineering ($98,100 / 1.8%); #5 Electrical Engineering ($99,000 / 2.7%); #6 Architectural Engineering ($74,000 / 1.5%); #7 Aerospace Engineering ($90,000 / 2.3%) and #8 Computer Engineering ($92,000 / 2.8%).

The only fields to beat most engineering degrees were #2 Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences & Administration ($100,000 / 2.2%) and #4 Genetics ($85,000 / 1.2%). Rounding out the top 10 are #8 Electrical Engineering Technology ($76,000 / 1.8%) and #10 Materials Science ($90,000 / 2.0%). A Mechanical Engineering degree, according to the Bankrate listing, came in at #16 with a $88,000 median salary and a 3.0% unemployment rate.

At the bottom of the list, anything to do with language or the arts fared poorly: #160 Composition & Rhetoric (US$37,800 / 4.4%); #161 Visual And Performing Arts ($32,000 / 4.1%) and lastly #162 Drama & Theater Arts ($35,500 / 5.2).


To be fair, the study doesn’t factor in students’ success rate or the costs incurred attaining the various degrees. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve, 54 percent of college/university students rack up some debt by the time they graduate, averaging about US$20,000 to $24,999 in 2018. The study also concedes that even the least valuable of degrees are better than none in the long term.

The complete listing is available on the consumer organization’s website.


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories