May 8, 2024 - News

Engineering majors make the most money after college in Minnesota

Text: A bar chart that displays the annual median wages of Minnesotans who graduated from an in-state
college between June 2020 and June 2021, sorted by major. Engineering graduates top the chart with a median
wage of $70,527, followed by legal professions at $62,624.
Data: Data: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Chart: Axios Visuals. Chart: Axios Visuals

To make a lot of money right out of college in Minnesota, consider an engineering degree, which lands the typical grad a salary of $70,500 a year after commencement.

Why it matters: As thousands of students in Minnesota colleges and universities graduate this month, some will quickly find high-paying jobs while others will struggle financially.

Driving the news: It's easy for Minnesota students to find out what their degree might mean for their future salary and job prospects, thanks to a recently updated state Graduate Employment Outcomes (GEO) tool.

By the numbers: College grads with more technical degrees, as well as those in business, law, law enforcement, and education have the highest-paying jobs right away with median second-year salaries over $50,000.

  • The lowest-paid graduates have degrees in liberal arts, general studies and humanities ($22,525 median salary), and philosophy and religious studies ($26,847).

Yes, but: Money isn't everything.

  • The professions with the highest happiness levels include farmers, lumberjacks, real estate agents, and construction workers, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data published by the Washington Post.

Zoom in: New engineering grads will find local firms lining up for their services.

  • That's because the University of Minnesota and other local colleges aren't turning out enough of them, Bret Weiss, CEO of Golden Valley-based engineering firm WSB, told Axios.
  • His firm is short about 100 engineers nationally, and he expects demand only to pick up as the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill signed by President Biden flows to projects.

Between the lines: Many of the industries that are short of workers these days, like restaurants and hospitality, have lower wages that they've been forced to raise to recruit people.

  • That's not the same in engineering. The barriers there are more related to a smaller pool that roots to the difficulty of coursework and lack of diversity, Weiss said.

What we're watching: While engineering has been a white male-dominated industry, Weiss said his firm has created a program to hire and train more women and people of color for engineering-adjacent jobs that don't require a specific degree.

  • The hope, Weiss added, is that those employees could become role models in their communities and inspire a younger generation to pursue engineering careers.

Go deeper into wage data by major


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