If you have your sights on overseas work, or just want to know what global trends are starting to show, you might be interested to know which degrees are commanding the biggest salaries.  An article in Forbes magazine states The National Association of College and Employers summer 2011 survey report on graduate starting salaries found that the average starting salary for this year’s graduates roles 4.8% to USD $51,018 from $48,661 a year ago.  Among the disciplines that saw their average offer change, more than 82% saw an increase.  That’s amazing news considering the US is still in recession.

In the top 5 are:

    • Petroleum Engineering – the most profitable major at $80,849 – focuses on finding and extracting oil or natural gas.  Engineers work with geologists to understand a site’s rock as well as to design equipment and processes to recover the resources and reduce operational costs.  High employment growth is predicted as new resources and new methods of extraction are developed.
    • Chemical Engineering (includes training in chemistry, physics and mathematics) – average starting salary $65,618.  Good opportunities in pharmaceuticals, health care, energy research, biotechnology and nanotechnology.  Focuses on solving problems in the production or use of chemicals and biochemicals and handle the design of manufacturing equipment, testing, treatment of byproducts and supervision of overall production.  Demand, however, is predicted to decrease around 2% in the decade to 2018.

  • Computer Engineering – average starting salary at $64,499.  Will continue to benefit from predicted 21% employment growth.  Computer engineers analyse, design, develop and test computer software and systems – covers everything from videogames to network distribution.
  • Mining and Mineral Engineering including Geological – average starting salary $64,969.  High employment growth predicted as demand for minerals continues to increase.  Many employed mining engineers are approaching retirement age which should also create additional job openings.
  • Computer Science – average starting salary $63,402 – High employment growth predicted.  This is a major that can be applied in many industries and can involve anything from complex theory and research to hardware or programming language design.  Promising areas include e-commerce, information security and virtual reality.


Recruitment trends in New Zealand and Australia

The 2011 Hays Salary Guide which reports on salaries and recruitment trends across Australia and New Zealand shows that over the coming year, permanent staff levels are expected to increase in the following areas: (percentages reflect the number of employers surveyed)

Accounting & Finance – 64%
Distribution – 50%
Engineering – 68%
Human Resources – 48%
Information Technology – 59%
Marketing – 23%
Operations – 53%
Purchasing – 50%
Sales – 52%

The report states that “The second mining boom and a two-speed economy in Australia, tighter credit conditions and higher terms of trade, in addition to the short-term impact of natural disasters in both Australia and New Zealand, have not stopped 74% of organisations indicating they expect business activity to increase over the next 12 months.

The increase in job vacancies has also been reflected in our local NZUniCareerHub.  The number of employers advertising graduate jobs on NZUniCareerHub has increased by 31% and the number of graduate vacancies has increased by 55%.

Longer term salary considerations

Caution must be taken when considering the longer term impact of starting salaries.  The Forbes article goes on to say that the majors that make more money right off the bat won’t necessarily keep their advantage a decade or two later, according to another study, from PayScale, which surveyed over 1,000 colleges and universities across the U.S. The PayScale study shows that different majors see different rates of pay growth, which means today’s new physics major, with a median starting salary of $49,800, will likely surpass a computer scientist in earnings by midcareer.

In the long run, pay growth matters as much as starting salary, says Al Lee, the director of quantitative analysis for PayScale.

The PayScale survey shows that engineering, for example, may be a good way to make quick money, but it’s not the only route to wealth in the long run. “At the end of the day it’s not how much you earn right out of school,” Lee says. “It’s how much you make over your whole career.”

To read the complete article see http://onforb.es/ohdmnG

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