September 30, 2012

Do College Graduates Find Jobs in their Field? - Look at Science and Engineering

In comments on a post at Get Rich Slowly, several people felt that what you major in doesn't matter since people end up in other fields or employers don't care what your major is.   As an engineering major working in the engineering field that doesn't really apply to me, but I know engineering is different than many majors in this respect.   I've previously talked about the Heldrich Center  and their data on what percent of recent grads got jobs in their field.   Here's a report from them. However they didn't cover how it looks for different majors.  

The National Science Foundation has a report Characteristics of Recent Science and Engineering Graduates: 2008

The data is from 2008 but the report is from August 2012 so its the most recent data they have. While its not very new, I doubt the overall trends have changed much other than higher unemployment during the recession.

I'm looking at just the grads with bachelors degrees which is in Table 1 of the report.   They also dissect the data other ways looking at gender, ethnicity and other factors.

Here is how it looks graphically with each major broken up by % of graduates who are either still in school (presumably grad school), employed in a science / engineering field, employed in a field other than science/engr. or who are are  unemployed:

(Click image for larger version)

I also thought it would be good to highlight the split between grads in each field who are either in school or in their field versus those who are employed in a field that isn't science or engineering or unemployed.  That split looks like this :
(Click image for larger version)

The majority of engineering grads and computer science end up in the sciences/engineering fields or back in school.   The majority of social sciences end up in other fields or unemployed.   The physical science grads are a mix with a higher percent in school again.

At the extremes you can see that 70% of sociology/anthropology majors end up in fields other than science or engineering and 77% of mechanical engineers end up in the science/engineering fields.  

Here is the data in table format :

grads in school
agricultural/food sciences 14,000 4,000
biological sciences 147,000 68,000
environmental life sciences 12,000 3,000

computer and info sciences 85,000 7,000

math and statistics 33,000 8,000

chemistry 22,000 11,000
earth, atmospheric, ocean 9,000 3,000
physics / astronomy 10,000 5,000

psychology 184,000 54,000

economics 48,000 8,000
political and related 98,000 23,000
sociology / anthropology 87,000 15,000
other social sciences 59,000 12,000

chemical engineering 8,000 2,000
civil 19,000 3,000
electrical/computer 37,000 5,000
industrial 6,000 1,000
mechanical 30,000 4,000
other engineer 26,000 7,000


in field other field unemployed
agricultural/food sciences 2,000 7,000 1,000
biological sciences 29,000 37,000 13,000
environmental life sciences 3,000 6,000 1,000

computer and info sciences 57,000 17,000 4,000

math and statistics 5,000 17,000 2,000

chemistry 5,000 5,000 1,000
earth, atmospheric, ocean 3,000 4,000 1,000
physics / astronomy 2,000 3,000 *

psychology 15,000 98,000 16,000

economics 6,000 32,000 2,000
political and related 5,000 62,000 7,000
sociology / anthropology 5,000 61,000 7,000
other social sciences 6,000 36,000 6,000

chemical engineering 5,000 1,000 *
civil 13,000 3,000 1,000
electrical/computer 24,000 5,000 2,000
industrial 4,000 1,000 *
mechanical 23,000 3,000 *
other engineer 12,000 5,000 2000

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