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Would you say that these salary by degree statistics are accurate?

  1. Dec 17, 2011 #1
    Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp

    I know it's rude to ask people how much they make, but if you guys don't mind, could you at least tell me if these numbers are realistic, compared to what you've seen?

    This data is supposedly about people with ONLY a bachelors degree, which sounds a little suspicious to me.

    Physics is up there with the high-earners, but I didn't think you could even get a good job without a graduate-level physics degree.
    And the starting salaries for a lot of them just look ridiculously high.

    edit for additional information about the website:

    The websites research methods ~seem~ legit, if you look at their methodology, they have the following conditions.
    http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/salary-report.asp
    -Bachelors only
    -US only
    -Full time employees only (this one might be tainting the statistics, since people who are unemployed, or unable to find anything other than part-time employment are not included)
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2011
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  3. Dec 17, 2011 #2
    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    these are for 3.6-4.0 GPA students in the field. if you graduate with a 2.0 you won't be getting a job, let alone a top paying one.
     
  4. Dec 17, 2011 #3

    D H

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    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    No, they are not. Those are supposedly the median salaries for those
    - who graduated with a bachelors degree from a US college,
    - who did not go on to get an advanced degree, and
    - who have a full-time job in the US.

    If anything, there is most likely a paucity in the qualifying sample space of physics graduates with a 3.6-4.0 GPA. Physics majors who attained a 3.6 to 4.0 GPA are much more likely to go on to grad school than are their cohorts who received a 3.0.

    Your 2.0 graduate with a full-time job that entails asking whether the customer wants fries with the order would bring down the mean, but less so the median. (Besides, how does one graduate with a 2.0 nowadays?)

    Those numbers look about right. Petroleum and chemical engineering way at the top, then electrical engineering and materials science & engineering.

    In terms of starting median salary, physics majors rank at a lowly #22. It's the mid-career salary that bumps them way up to the #7 spot. Physics majors who go directly to the workforce after getting their bachelors degree don't get a job as a physicist. They get a job as an electrical engineer, a materials engineer, an aerospace engineer, a nuclear engineer, in computing, etc. Not physics, but related to it. We physics majors have proven ourselves to be valuable to companies in these fields, so they do hire physics majors even though they don't quite have the requisite skills. Some training is needed to bring our skills up to snuff. While are are valuable eventually, we aren't so valuable immediately. Hence the initial relatively low salaries.

    Degree and school don't matter all that much to someone has been working in some field for fifteen years. Those mid-career salaries are on par with electrical engineers, materials scientists, aerospace engineers, nuclear engineers, and computer scientists because that is what those physics majors are doing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2011
  5. Dec 17, 2011 #4

    Choppy

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    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    I personally believe physics majors tend to do quite well even if they leave the field or associated fields completely. So even when they don't get jobs as physicists, or lab techs, or engineers, the skills they've acquired in their education tend to help them accel in many other fields where the salaries can be very performance based.
     
  6. Dec 18, 2011 #5
    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    why do I never hear about people wanting to be petroleum engineers? Everyone wants to be EE or mechanical...those petroleum guys are the smart ones haha
     
  7. Dec 18, 2011 #6

    D H

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    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    Depends. The work hours are a bit off, the hazards are obviously high. My newish next door neighbor is a petroleum engineer. He's around for about a month, then he's off to work for about a month. On the other side of the world. His employer pays for his travel (his frequent flier miles are astronomical) but they do not not for his time while traveling. He's doing quite well based on the fanciness of his multiple vehicles, that he bought the house all-cash, and that he has some extravagant hobbies. Given the weirdness of the working hours, the economic value of the job, and the inherent hazards of the job (you only hear about rig disasters when they cause environmental problems), that pay is well merited.
     
  8. Dec 18, 2011 #7
    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    I think it has to do with how people get interested in the feilds they choose.

    The kids who played with legos get into civil engineering, the ones who took apart their toasters get into electrical engineering, the ones who liked cars go into mechanical engineering, etc

    But what gets people interested in Petroleum engineering? It is a bit of an odd feild to get into.
     
  9. Dec 18, 2011 #8

    Office_Shredder

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    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    The one who siphoned out the gas from the dad's car and made an oil field in the backyard
     
  10. Dec 18, 2011 #9
    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    The numbers appear to be in the right ball park.

    Engineers have earned a comfortable salary for the last 50 years. However, you are unlikely to earn what engineering managers can make. And for that you need a good business degree, good connections, and a very good attitude that won't piss off your employees.

    Another point for you fanatics who feel that more education is better: Engineering is different. You need to learn the foundations for engineering. However, after that, the additional education doesn't usually get you a better engineer. Engineers learn by designing things and learning how to build them better. That's what companies pay for, that's what the experience looks like. An academic education will get you only so far. After that, your experience will speak for itself.

    That said, if you're going to school to learn how to earn a great salary, you're doing it wrong. There are no guarantees that you'll make this money when you graduate. Study what you love, not what you think will earn a decent salary. If you're enthusiastic, creative, and hard-working, it almost doesn't matter what you studied. You'll do well.
     
  11. Dec 19, 2011 #10
    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    I'm less worried about whether the numbers are accurate than I am about whether they lead to a reasonable interpretation.

    Am I missing a standard deviation value somewhere?

    What shape do the distributions have?

    Without those two questions answered, those numbers mean absolutely nothing to me.
     
  12. Dec 21, 2011 #11
    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    One other thing is that those tell you what things are like in 2011. What they are like in 2015 is another issue. One reason PE salaries are high is that for a long time there was a glut of PE's which meant that no one was making new ones. In physics, there has been this myth that there would be huge demand once the current generation of professors retired, which never happened, but in petroleum engineering, that actually happened.

    I remember a talk a few years ago, in which an engineer told us to "expect things to start exploding" since PE's with decades of experience were retiring and being replaced by new people that had lots of book knowledge, but not decades of experience.
     
  13. Dec 21, 2011 #12
    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    True story. I worked at an oil/gas software company and we were talking about usability. The discussion went to handicapped accessibility, and someone mentioned that this was in fact quite an important thing to think about since lots of people working on oil wells are missing fingers.......

    Dead silence.

    One other thing that increases the value of the physics degree is that it's easier to move from field to field, and I've made a lot of radical career moves to get myself to where the grass was greenest at the moment.
     
  14. Dec 21, 2011 #13

    D H

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    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    A PE certification is a mixed bag. Most civil engineers have a PE cert, but civil engineers aren't all that well paid compared to other engineers. Petroleum and chemical engineers also tend to have a PE cert, but their high salaries are more attributable to the economic value of their work, weird working hours, and rather hazardous jobs. Electrical engineers: Some do, some don't. You can be a pretty successful chip designer without having a PE cert. For computer engineers, the value of a PE cert is even less. In aerospace, a PE certification is pretty much meaningless.



    Same for me. I've done meteorology (remote sensing), worked on things that go "boom!", worked in the field of AI, been a manager (yech!), done systems engineering, aerospace engineering, and software engineering, etc. As a minor tax rebellion, I try to make each year's answer to the "Occupation" field on form 1040 different from the previous year's answer and preferably different from all previous years' answers.
     
  15. Dec 22, 2011 #14
    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    Acronym clash. I was using PE to talk about petroleum engineers, not professional engineer. :-) :)

    One thing that I think is cool is that I honestly have no idea what field I'll be working in five to ten years from now.
     
  16. Dec 22, 2011 #15
    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    How viable is a chemical engineering degree for someone looking to go into petroleum engineering exactly... generally speaking if one knew that they wanted to go into petroleum engineering would it be worth relocating to get that specific degree, or would you most likely do just as well with a degree in chemical?
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  17. Dec 22, 2011 #16

    uby

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    Re: Would you say that these "salary by degree" statistics are accurate?

    What's the difference between a physicist and a pizza?
    A pizza can feed a family of four.







    But in all fairness: while your starting salary will likely show correlations with your degree, school, and GPA, your 5/10 year salary likely does not. You have to earn your bones at any job and your credentials only get you in the door, not up the ladder so to speak.
     
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