Recent Report Reveals Which STEM Majors Have The Highest Starting Salaries and Job Offer Rates

Posted By Terri Williams on October 19, 2015 at 9:20 am
Recent Report Reveals Which STEM Majors Have The Highest Starting Salaries and Job Offer Rates

STEM majors lead to some of the country’s most in-demand jobs, as well as some of the most lucrative wages of any major group. However, not all STEM majors are created equally. They’re not all projected to be on the list of the fastest-growing jobs in the future. And, they don’t all pay more than the median annual wage for the average U.S. worker.

Engineering and computer science are in high demand, and the starting salaries for these graduates reflect their marketability. However, graduates in biology, chemistry, and environmental science are not being pursued as rigorously by employers, and they have comparatively lower salaries.

“Students in Demand: An Insight Into STEM Graduates,” a report published by the National Association of Colleges and Universities (NACE), lists the offer and acceptance rates for key STEM majors, along with median salary offers:

Job offer and acceptance rates by STEM major

Major Offer Rate Acceptance Rate
Computer Science 57.3% 76.9%
Engineering 55.2% 73.8%
Mathematics 49.0% 50.0%
Biology 38.5% 54.0%
Chemistry 34.1% 42.9%
Physics 26.3% 80.0%
Nursing 38.0% 42.1%
Environmental Sciences 36.8% 42.9%


Starting salary offers by STEM major

Major Median Salary Offer
Engineering $60,076
Physics $60,000
Computer Science $55,576
Mathematics $45,001
Miscellaneous Natural Sciences $40,000
Environmental Sciences $34,500
Chemistry $33,750
Biology $27,001


Some interesting findings? Computer science and engineering majors lead the way in terms of offer and acceptance rates. They also have higher starting salary offers. There is a more than 20% difference in offer rates between computer science and environmental science. There’s also a $33,000 difference in the median salary offer for engineering majors versus those with a degree in biology.

Why two majors stand out

GoodCall spoke with several experts to understand why engineering and computer science majors are more highly recruited and well paid than some of their STEM peers.

“Information technology drives the economy,” says Abraham Snell, who has an MBA with a concentration in Technology Management and works as a Senior Infrastructure Analyst for the Southern Company in Birmingham, Alabama. “Can you name a company that does not have IT undergirding its operation?”

Snell says that companies are not taking handwritten orders and notes, regardless of the industry. They’re using iPads and other types of tablets, utilizing databases, and sending electronic messages, as well as engaging with customers via social media. “Your business will quickly go out of business if you don’t have IT involved,” warns Snell. “Every time a new business opens and grows to a certain level, they are generating or processing data, and they need someone to manage that.”

And according to Adrienne R. Minerick, Associate Dean for Research & Innovation in the College of Engineering, and a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University, “Engineering is a field that crosses science and technology to develop a variety of solutions that range from preventing the spread of disease to meeting energy needs.” Revolutionizing medicine, using robots to disarm explosive devices, and designing eco-friendly buildings with no internal columns are just some of the ways that Minerick says engineers are shaping the future – and that creates a demand for their services.

Those sentiments are echoed by Shobana Radhakrishnan, Director of Cloud Services, Channel Store and Billing for Roku Inc., in Saratoga, California. She says computer science and engineering majors are getting job offers earlier and are paid more as a result of supply and demand. “There’s a huge increase in demand, and supply hasn’t caught up with it yet.”

According to Radhakrishnan, “Increased cross-geographic collaboration in the workplace, a global market, and customer engagement necessitate the need for advanced engineering and computer science techniques and tools in all industries. These two fields of study are a critical part of enabling this for all segments of society, and the high demand will only increase over time to meet user needs and expectations.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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