By Jack Caldwell - Mining Engineer - Robertson GeoConsultants

A major report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce is entitled What’s It Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors. The report is long, over 180 pages and covers degrees ranging from Agriculture to Social Sciences. Engineering is dealt with from page 110 to page 123.

The data come from the U.S. Census Bureau as part of its 2009 American Communities Survey.

I cannot possibly repeat all the information—best go to the link and take a look at the many statistics they provide.

Here it is enough to note that for the group Mining and Mineral Engineering, the earnings at the 75th percentile are $125,000 per year. At the 25th percentile the number is $52,000. Of those surveyed in this category 37 percent had agraduate degree. By comparison the figures for Civil Engineers (many of whom work for mines) are: $103,000; $57,000; and 35 percent. Petroleum engineers are highest with figures of: $189,000; $82,000; and 33 percent.

While there is big difference between the top-paid petroleum engineers and the top-paid mining engineers, we must note that mining engineers come in second only to the petroleum engineers. Civil engineers, Industrial engineers, and Marine engineers rank equal in third place.

A nice summary of the many statistics is in the July 2011 issue of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ magazine Civil Engineering. They note:

As a group, engineering majors were found to have a median annual income of $75,000. For engineering majors with a graduate degree, median earnings were $99,000 or 32% higher. After engineering, the groupswith the highest median incomes were computers and mathematics ($70,000), business ($60,000), health ($60,000), and physical sciences ($59,000). At the other end of the spectrum, the groups with the lowest median incomes were the humanities and liberal arts ($47,000), arts ($44,000), education ($42,000), and psychology and social work ($42,000).

This is all good news for those studying engineeringof any type. But it makes me wonder why more do not study engineering. It is fun and fascinating; a great way to live and earn; and really it is not that hard, either at university or in the working-day-world. And no disrespect to my mining engineering friend, for it is they who say it: “Mining is the easiest engineering degree to get.”