By Xiaowen Chen
The Daily Cougar, U. Houston
(UWire)—Renowned financial journalist Lynn O'Shaughnessy recently said that business students no longer earn the highest mid-career salary in the job market, based on PayScale's 2011 best-paying college degrees survey.
For engineering and business students, gaining professional experience during college is essential.
According to this survey, the top paying degree is petroleum engineering, with a mid-career median salary amounting to $155,000. Engineering and science majors rank in the top 10 among the best-paying degree list. Business major comes in as the 59th best-paying college degree in the survey.
"Normally, engineering graduates' entry level salary should be $75,000-$80,000 per year. There are two main reasons that engineering students are paid higher salary comparing with other major students," said Vita P. Como, the career center director for the U. Houston college of engineering.
"First of all, the high demand in engineering market comes due to a large gap existing between demand and supply. Houston is an engineering city with high demand of engineering students. A large number of technical people are retiring right now. The second reason lies in the academic difficulty of engineering majors, which require more dedication than other majors do."
Dr. Michael Newman, UH public accounting program's director, was able to address some business students' concerns about their career outlook.
"There is a big demand for Accounting and Management Information Systems students in the business world," Newman said. "Students who have accounting skills earn over $50,000 out of college and can make in the mid-six figures within twenty years of graduation if they become partners of a large CPA firm, which many do. Demand for both skill sets is expected to continue growing for the next decade."
For both engineering and business students, gaining enough professional experience during college is just as essential for guaranteeing a bright future in their career. Como encouraged engineering students to acquire an internship or co-op course during each semester.
Susan Ren is a U. Texas student studying for a master's in accounting who recently started working at Big Four Company.
"Accounting positions beyond entry level would be more lucrative," said Ren.
Students still deciding on a major should not rely on potential money return when deciding. Newman said that they have the potential to gain much more career success by pursuing things they really love to do.
"Go seek to do something you are passionate about," Newman said.
Amer Fahim, an MBA with a vision of accounting from UH said, "Students must do a self-evaluation with someone's help [to figure out] what we are good at, keeping in view future prospects of those studies in our lives."