Breaking news: engineers will get jobs

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Cal’s class of 2013 is constantly plagued by the uber-competitive job market. The Wall Street Journal blog’s “Highest-Paid College Majors” list kicks those fears into high gear, just in time for graduation season. Not surprisingly, seven out of the 10 majors listed were off-shoots of engineering, which is good for Cal students who have nearly every engineering field available to them. And what’s at the top of the list? Petroleum engineering — we can’t imagine Berkeley environmentalists are happy about that — with a huge reported starting salary of $93,500.

Other engineering majors that are going to make the big bucks after graduation include some of Cal’s best-known bleary-eyed students this time of the year: EECS and mechanical engineering. Look at Cal alumni Arthur Fong, class of ’43, who was one of the first electrical engineers to work at Hewlett-Packard. Or Sanjay Mehrotra and Gordon Moore, who founded SanDisk and Intel, respectively. We imagine they looked like death warmed over during their own dead weeks, but it certainly paid off.

And WSJ did deign to acknowledge the lesser-paid majors. In fact, humanities and social science graduates will see a whopping 1.9% salary increase this year. That ought to cover the student loans.

However, despite that mind-blowing increase in income, grads in the humanities and social sciences will still start off with salaries significantly lower than those of the engineers or business people — nearly $60,000 lower. Since we know everyone in the humanities and social sciences went into those fields for the money, we figure they weren’t already aware that they will have a lower income. But hopefully they’ll accept that fact knowing they’re going after their passions.

It certainly isn’t bad to go into a stable field with a good starting salary. If you’re on WSJ’s list, kudos! If you’re not, just remember that this information is nothing new: Engineering and business have been the typical money-making degrees for a while. But, hey, we’re at Berkeley! Despite the obvious potential salary divide that will vex us in the future, our inclusive community can coexist in this diverse academic sphere.

Image source: Argonne National Laboratory under Creative Commons

Contact Jessica Rogness at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @jessarogness.