President Obama may be calling for 1 million more college grads in STEM–science, technology, engineering, and mathematics–but data finds that first letter doesn’t have the same prospects as the characters that trail it.
Analyzing early-career salary data across these fields in Texas, CollegeMeasures found companies are handsomely rewarding those with degrees in computer science ($58,483 for bachelor’s degree), engineering ($74,818), and math ($48,875) over graduates in biology ($26,430) and chemistry ($36,090), the most popular science majors, respectively. In fact, the average salary for a bachelor’s degree in biology is lower than sociology ($32,994), psychology ($29,141), and English ($31,770). Analysis of Colorado and Virginia found similar results, with employers paying more for engineers, computer scientists, and mathematicians over chemists and biologists. Granted, the figures for these states look at early-career earnings, so the numbers look disproportionate compared with the $118,900 average salary developers earn in Silicon Valley, where the cost of living is also higher.
There’s no denying that STEM has become a major economic driver, but the category tends to overlook (or lump in) science majors when it comes to earning potential. Overall though, the Brookings Institute found metropolitan areas with a large share of STEM employees–including blue-collared workers, such as nurses, mechanics, and electricians–typically have stronger economics and less income inequality.