Engineering Degrees are among the Top Earning Degrees in the USA for Jamaican College Students

My article today is very sobering; Joblessness has gripped Jamaica whole.

So much so that even Wayne Chen, the Immediate Past-President of the JEF (Jamaica Employers Federation) has told graduates to go abroad to seek Greener Pastures. He uttered these rather ominous yet “like duh-uh” obvious and current state-of-affairs comments at a panel discussion on Wednesday June 26th, 2013 at the UWI (University of the West Indies) entitled “Goodbye University: Hello Unemployment!”. The Panel Discussion was hosted by the Association of Caribbean Higher Education Administrators Jamaica chapter

In terms of statistics, of the forty thousand (40,000) School leavers this year from the High School System in Jamaica, only 50% will be able to find work. This based on the words of the Current JEF President David Wan, apparently spoke and timed to agree with Past president Wayne Chen. In his exact words, quote: “Most employers are either not hiring or not replacing people who are leaving. So I don’t expect any massive increase in employment by the private sector this year”!

This leaves the other 50% to either go to Vocational Training Institutes such as HEART Trust/NTA or one of our local Universities which many can’t afford, especially since the Tuition hike of 5.5%.

Equally the Ministry of Labour Jamaica Employ has been unable to place many in jobs, with Minister of Labour David Kellier citing on 2% of those who applied have been placed in Jobs. 4,559 persons have registered with the Ministry of Labour under the Jamaica Employ, with only 400 persons have been referred to private sector for consideration for employment. Of that 400, only 100 have landed interviews thus far.

Even persons such as myself may find it tough going as with no new Jobs being created within the Economy, working in a Call Center, once an unthinkable option, now becomes a reality of which I’ve written, having worked at three (3) thus far! With work being difficult to find without a Degree, a lucky few High School graduates that have relatives with deep pockets abroad are opting to go abroad to do a Degree at a University abroad and hopefully find a way to stay in the US of A and get employment.


But what are the best disciplines to get a degree in? NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania non-profit, links college placement offices with large companies as employers. This time around, they collected Data that should be of interest for not only the Graduating class of 2013, but for those Jamaican seeking to the US of A and Canada to Study (as this’d be relevant for them too, being as the Jobs market isn’t restricted to the US of A alone!

NACE recently did a salary survey for the month of July 2013 that involved combing through statistics from the following sources:

  1. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  2. The U.S, Census Bureau

  3. Job Search Intelligence, a compensation measurement company that works out what employers are willing to pay and what College Grads usually accept

And here are the results! Note that these are normalized majors i.e. adjusted to US Government’s CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) that equates Majors that may have different names and assigns a weighted name that encompasses all l the material that may be taught for that course. The Top Paying Majors to pursue a Bachelors Degree in for the Class of 2013:

Top Earning Degrees in the USA - 2

Petroleum Engineering tops the lot, obvious as the Search for Oil is currently a priority globally as well as in the US now seeking Oil and Shale Gas. Thus Graduates with this particular Degree are in short supply right now in the US of A. But when broken down by discipline, hands down (like Duh-uh!) it’ Engineering that comes out on top. Need I say more!

Top Earning Degrees in the USA

Coincidentally, these broad areas and salaries ranking are familiar to most Jamaicans, as Humanities typically makes the least paid of all the Career Groups in Jamaica as well, never mind the fact that over in the US of A, their salaries are general higher than ours. The Top Tier Disciplines such as Engineering and Computer Science still score highly and are the in-demand by job areas not only in the US of A and Canada, but also for Jamaica as well, based on my personal Experience as a Telecoms Engineer.

The difference?

In the US, a Manufacturing Country, the demand for these skills is obvious. In Jamaica, it’s mostly the Business, Humanities and Social Sciences that are in-demand by High School Students and College grads, mainly because we don’t have heavy industry or Engineering Design areas here in Jamaica save for the Bauxite Companies. Also from a Social standpoint, these areas carry more prestige despite not paying as much money!

This is an after effect of British Colonialism; Jamaicans in these fields often involve working in an Office environment, wearing fancy clothes (suit and tie in de hot Sun??) and socializing with the well-to-do in Society. To this end, many in College or University here in Jamaica pursue Medicine or even Law after getting a first Degree in the Sciences at UWI or UTECH or matriculate straight into Med Sci after High School. That’s the only Science Career option that not only pays as much as Engineering, but is also self-sustaining; Doctors are always in short supply and high demand.

So there you have it. If you ever had any confusion as to which Major to pursue at a University abroad that’ll guarantee a salary that’s high enough for you to move out of you Guardian’s house immediately upon graduation and be employed within the US of A and Canada (Why come back home??), this article’ll set you straight!

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.