Q: What is the most lucrative job for me? I'm a college junior studying computer science. Time magazine published a rank ordered list placing computer engineer at the top. But more recently they put out another list. Oddly, I haven't been able to find them again. I seem to remember using a simple key word like "job", but variations on that bring up all sorts of unrelated stuff. I'm not sure what a realistic expectation would be for salary. I haven't interned anywhere yet. That probably comes as a bit of suprise to you since I'm a junior in college, but there is a lengthy and uninteresting explanation. Is compE more lucrative than medicine or law?
A: -I think the computer field is great, 'cause a person can make a very good living while still maintaining a lot of personal freedom. Specialize in something hard to find. My hubby learned Java programming, and people beat a path to his door. -Are you in Computer Engineering or Computer Science? I'll bet that the placement office at UI will have lots of information specific to your University, especially regarding starting salaries. Try a search at Yahoo using "salary". There's also salary.com . That said, I don't think that the information is useful for much more than checking that you're not in a totally dead field, and perhaps to make sure that you're not getting a low-ball offer. Salary depends on lots of things. The initial salary might depend on your degree and location, but after a few years you're likely to be working on some other project and need skills that you didn't have at graduation. Employers do reward engineers for certain traits. First on the list is the ability to work as a team, perhaps even in a leadership role after a while. Adaptability and learning is important. The willingness to do vital but less glamorous jobs is also sometimes rewarded. Good automated test engineers are worth a lot, for instance, although you'll never see their picture on the cover of IEEE Spectrum, like you might for a chip designer. If you're a better engineer than you are a lawyer, perhaps. If, on the other hand you are interested in law, an engineering undergrad background can come in handy, especially for patent law. Salaries and interests also change with time. I've known a couple of aeronautical engineers who have gone into investment banking. With military budgets shrinking there weren't that many jobs looking for experts in hypersonic fluid flow, but the calculus came in handy for comparing risk-reward payoffs. A friend of mine went to MIT and held a perfect straight-A average, and got a master's degree. He picked mechanical engineering because it paid best. Then he got tired of it. Now he works as a record company executive. There's a lot more to a job than just the salary.
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