Tech, military schools again top Ivies in early career salaries

Rankings focus on institutions' diversity, service, research, affordability

Military and engineering school alumni tend to earn more early in their careers than those who attended Ivy League institutions, Roberto Ferdman reports for the Washington Post.


According to an annual PayScale report, people who attended the United States Naval Academy (USNA) at Annapolis again earned the most within their first five years of their careers. The study examines salary data from about 1.5 million employees representing 1,000 colleges.

The list compares how much people made early in their careers with where they earned their bachelor's degrees—some of the people counted also earned graduate degrees (PayScale made a separate list ranking the relative earnings of graduates who stopped at a bachelor's degree).

Based on median earnings for early professionals, the top 10 schools were:

1. U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, $82,900
2. U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, $82,800
3. Harvey Mudd College, $78,800
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), $78,000
5. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), $77,900
6. California Institute of Technology (CalTech), $77,000
7. U.S. Air Force Academy, $72,600
8. Stanford University, $70,100
9. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, $68,600
10. Carnegie Mellon University, $68,200

Meanwhile, the Ivy League institutions failed to crack the top 20:

23. Princeton University, $64,000
31. Harvard University, $62,600
32. Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), $62,000
35. Cornell University, $61,900
40. Yale University, $61,400
43. Brown University, $60,800
56. Dartmouth College, $58,800

"The strong performance of elite military schools on the list of early career earnings suggests that that military experience seems to increase graduates' value in the eyes of employers. Technical training ... is similar in this regard," writes Ferdmand.

However, when looking at median salaries 10 years after graduation, the rankings shift significantly:

1. State University System of New York-Maritime College, $139,000
2. MIT, $137,000
3. Harvey Mudd, $134,000
4. (tie) Harvard and USNA at Annapolis, $131,000
6. Stanford, $130,000
7. (tie) Babson College, Princeton, USMMA, $128,000
10. USMA at West Point, $127,000
11. CalTech, $126,000
12. Carnegie Mellon, $125,000
13. UPenn, $124,000

Additionally, prospects for Ivy graduates improved. Yale, Cornell, Brown, and Dartmouth all break into the top 20. The findings, Ferdman says, show that "prestige and practicality don't always go hand in hand" (Ferdman, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 8/27; PayScale, College Salary Report, accessed 8/28).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.


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