The Top-Paying STEM Jobs For Recent Grads Are…

July 2, 2013  |  

If you’re interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, a new study conveniently compiled a list of the highest-paying jobs for recent college graduates. Students with non-STEM bachelor’s degrees and less than three years of experience earn $39,700 annually, but that salary can double for recent grads in STEM careers, Forbes announces., a website that compares salaries, found that the highest paying job for recent STEM graduates is petroleum engineering — employees must extract oil and gas from below the earth’s surface. Entry-level petroleum engineers, with less than three years’ experience, make nearly $88,700.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, petroleum engineers spend many hours at drilling sites. However, they also work in research labs and offices. The median pay is at $114,080 per year and the employment rate from 2010 to 2020 is expected to grow 17 percent.

If you’re not too keen on this career, Forbes adds another career to the list as the second highest-paying job for STEM degree-holders: nuclear engineering. Recent graduates are offered a yearly salary of $62,900. According to NCSU, nuclear engineers create blueprints for nuclear power plants, implement radiation for the treatment of disease, and develop systems that reduce pollution created by fossil fuels.

The expected growth between 2010 and 2020 is 10 percent.

Lastly, the third-highest paying career in the STEM field is marine engineering. The median salary for recent graduates with a menial amount of experience is $62,200. Marine engineers, according to, “design the vessels that we use to navigate and explore the world’s lakes and oceans.” They can build yachts, fishing boats, submarines, and aircrafts.

Like petroleum engineers, this occupation is expected to grow 17 percent between 2010 and 2020.

Katie Bardaro, an economist for Payscale, explains why salaries for STEM jobs are higher: “STEM fields are highly specialized,” she says. “The skills and knowledge base needed to succeed within STEM is high, which works to drive the pay up.”

If you’re looking to impress your employer in a STEM field, you should know that employers are seeking candidates who can prove their aptitude for the job by research projects and papers. Also, they are looking for prospective employees to have versatility. Not only do they want people who can analyze data and produce statistics, but can also write a blog piece about the results they discovered.

Don’t feel discouraged if you do not have the aptitude for STEM fields. Bardaro implores students to “major in a field you are both passionate about, as well as skilled at.” But she suggests that if you’re taking English courses, make sure to take some math courses as well. Dabbling in both STEM and non-STEM areas is key in making an impression on employers in the job market.

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