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7 TFD Readers Tell Us What Their Starting Salary Was In Their STEM Field

Last week, I did a little investigating to find out what a bunch of recent grads were earning for their first post-grad starting salaries. It was definitely eye-opening — as a recent grad myself, I am always looking for something to compare to, so I’m definitely curious about what others are making (especially the ones working in fields related to the degree I graduated with, which was Communication).

As enlightening as it was to find out what a bunch of other people working in a bunch of different fields were earning, it was rightfully pointed out that none of them had graduated with STEM degrees, and therefore, the article may not have been painting an accurate picture of what post-grad salaries actually look like for many people.

I responded in the comments section asking everyone working in a STEM field to email me so we could talk ~salary~, and talk we did!

A few of them are recent 2017 grads (congrats squad!!!), and a few graduated back a couple of years ago, but all were able to provide me with insight on the differences between what a starting salary looks like for an engineer compared to that of a nanny or a writer or an HR administrator.

From what I found (although my sample population was only seven people, so this is an entirely unscientific experiment), STEM careers seem to start out at higher salaries right off the bat (which I could have probably guessed).

Now that both Phase One and Phase Two of my salary investigation are complete, I’m moving on to Phase Three: comparing salaries for the same job in different regions. After reading what these kickass STEM women have to say about their salaries, comment below or send me an email if you want to talk salary with me. (Don’t worry — I’ll keep your identity anonymous like I did here!)

I asked seven women what their starting salary was in their STEM field, and this is what they had to say.

1. “I graduated in 2015 with a degree in ceramic engineering, which is a specific branch of materials science and engineering. My first position out of college was at a glass manufacturing plant in a management development program. I lived in Indiana and made $60,000. I changed jobs (and companies!) less than a year after I started, so my current position is still considered entry-level. I now work in Washington state as a process engineer for a manufacturing plant in a different industry. My official title is now ‘Engineer I’ and I make $72,000.” — Jenn

2. “I am based in Kansas City, MO. I just graduated in May with a Bachelors of Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. I currently work for a global healthcare software company as a Business Consultant. Starting salary $47,000, with a $3,000 bonus once placed on a specific team. I also interned with this company my senior year of college, so it was a really nice transition into a full-time position.” — Christine 

3. “I work as a structural engineer for a consulting company in the private sector. I got a Bachelors of Science in Architectural Engineering in 2009 then immediately went to grad school full time to get my Masters of Science in Civil Engineering, specializing in structural engineering.

I got hired for my first job out of grad school after about 6 months of job searching. I had zero experience but was told I was an attractive candidate because I had a masters degree. My starting salary was $25/hour, or $52,000/year. I still work for the same company so I’m not positive if this is normal everywhere, but I get paid hourly for a set schedule (40 hours/week). I bill each hour of my time to the project I am working but if we are slow and I am not working on a project, I bill to general overhead. I also get paid overtime, which is just my normal hourly rate. But, the important part is that my paycheck is always the same unless I work overtime, then it’s just slightly more than the typical amount.

When I passed the Fundamentals of Engineering exam about 4 months after I was hired, I got a raise of about $1/hour, or a little over $2,000/year. When I passed the Principals of Practice of Engineering exam earlier this year, making me a licensed professional engineer, I got a 10% raise. I’ve been with the same company for almost 5 years and have gotten several small yearly raises and now make a little over $70,000, plus a yearly bonus (which has varied from year to year depending on how the company as a whole has done that year). I know I could make more working for another company, but I really like the people here and the work environment has been really great as a young engineer. And, on top of that, I work 40 hours a week and go home and don’t think about work, which to me is priceless. I’ll eventually move to a new company and take a pay bump in doing so, but for now, I live comfortably while aggressively paying off my student debt, so I’m perfectly happy.” — Megan

4. “I just graduated in May with a BS in Computer Science. I’m currently working as a software engineer earning $68,000. I was hoping to make $75,000, but since my company offers full benefits, including matching my 401k, I’m not going to complain.” — Ivy

5. “I graduated with a BS in Marketing and a minor in Biology. My first job after graduation was for a major bank in New York City with starting salary $55,000/annually with a $10,000 sign-on bonus that I negotiated.” — Laura

6. “Well, I’m not sure if when we say ‘starting salary’ we’re talking post-undergrad or if more advanced degrees count, but I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and then went to PA school and became a Physician’s Assistant upon graduating with a starting salary of just over $90K. This was last year, and this year I’m earning $112K.” — Melanie

7. “So, I graduated in 2015 with a Chemical Engineering degree. I took the first job that I was offered and it was a contracted engineering position for a big Pharma/Consumer Product company. I negotiated $55K, no bonus, no 401K ’til 1 year, and vacations would accrue. Within two weeks of the job I knew it wasn’t a good fit because my coworkers were telling me to get out. I told them I was offered an interview with a big chemical company and they urged me to do the interview. I quit the contracted engineering position within two months and started at the big chemical company doing Environmental, Health, and Safety work making $72K, possibility to get a bonus, 401k with 4% matching/6% as a ‘pension,’ and 16 vacation days. A year and a half later, I’m at $76K and got a bonus of $6K. I want to stress that new graduates should take any interviews they are offered because I almost missed out on a TON of money.” — Abby

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at!

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