How much more $ does an engineer from MIT make?

<p>After about 10-15 years in the workforce how much more money on average will an engineer from MIT make than one from say your above average state school? (UT, A&M, Mich, Ga tech...)</p>

<p>Once you get in the door it's all about what you do..... not where you graduated. You may start off with an extra $500 to $1000 a year.</p>

<p>...but you do have to get in the door.</p>

<p>My husband is an aerospace engineer who graduated in '07, and he's making really good money fresh out of college. He got the interview for his job solely because he went to MIT -- one of his professors is friends with the CEO of the company, and recommended that the company offer him an interview.</p>

<p>Of course, now that he's working there, he's had to be outstanding by himself, but that hasn't been a problem for him because of the knowledge background and building skills he acquired during college.</p>

<p>
[quote]
After about 10-15 years in the workforce how much more money on average will an engineer from MIT make than one from say your above average state school? (UT, A&M, Mich, Ga tech...)

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Well, the answer is, sadly, probably not much if any at all. That's not a knock on MIT, but rather a feature that stems from the quasi-socialist payscales within the engineering industry. With software/IT perhaps being the lone exception, engineering industries don't really pay much more for their top engineers than they do for their mediocre ones. Rarely will you find an engineering company where the 'varsity team' of the very best and most senior engineers make 2 or perhaps 3x more than even the new hires make. Salary compression furthermore results in salary gains that taper off quickly, such that after 10-15 years, every engineer in the company is making roughly the same amount of money regardless of the difference in skills, for once you've been promoted to the Senior Engineer ranks, there's really no room left for you or your salary to rise while remaining in engineering. </p>

<p>Nor does there seem to be much difference in salary from firm to firm. Even the most elite engineering firms don't pay much more than the mediocre firms, once adjusted for industry and (especially) geographic cost of living. Every firm seems to be engaged in de-facto salary collusion with each other. Maybe one firm will pay $10-20k more than a competing firm in the same industry and locale, but, frankly, that's really not that big of a difference. The bottom line is that MIT engineers may be hired by the more elite firms, may progress to the Senior ranks faster, and be recognized as being among the more talented engineers in the company, but that's unfortunately not going to translate into a significantly higher salary compared to the other engineers.</p>

<p>Granted, large salary differences can be found in the ranks of management, and so maybe an MIT education will vault you into management faster. However, I'm not quite sure that's really the case, and if it is, that would imply the need for MIT to incorporate Sloan management coursework into the requirements. </p>

<p>The one important exception is the software/IT industry, of which there are indeed large pay differences, with the very best and most experienced engineers sometimes being able to earn upwards of $300k (note, only those with truly wicked kung-fu need apply). In that field I can agree that a MIT education can take you far. But you'll need to combine it with the right experience and the right skillset.</p>

<p>Which</a> College Grads Earn the Most? - BusinessWeek</p>

<p>it seems that where you go for college does have a impact on earning, whether due to school's prestige or personal capability is unsure.</p>

<p>the difference might be bigger if they counted entrepreneurs who started their own company and are worth millions but only get 100,000 $ salary or even 1$ in some cases..there are a lot of big name entrepreneurs from these top universities like Stanford or MIT.</p>

<p>Not that much, indeed. </p>

<p>Which</a> College Grads Earn the Most? - BusinessWeek</p>

<p>Top engineering schools do not have a cartel.</p>

<p>
[quote]
it seems that where you go for college does have a impact on earning, whether due to school's prestige or personal capability is unsure.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Yet as I said, the impact seems to be relatively small, especially after correcting for geographical differences. For example, the median MIT engineer making $125k is enjoying effectively the same standard of living as the Tennessee Tech engineer making $80k once correcting for the differing costs of living, assuming they remain within their geographical locations to work. Nashville is far cheaper than Boston. </p>

<p>Incidentally, this is a major reason why many MIT engineering students don't actually want jobs as engineers, preferring more lucrative fare such as consulting or investment banking - careers that aren't available to the guy from Tennessee Tech. The genesis of the problem is that engineering firms don't really want to pay top dollar for top engineering talent, but oddly have no problem paying through the nose for consulting or Ibanking services.</p>

<p>The major advantage MIT offers its graduates is access to career paths not typically available to engineering and science graduates of most other universities. While large numbers do chose careers outside of science and engineering, typically in finance and consulting, my experience has been that the vast majority of the highly financially successful individuals from MIT leveraged their backgrounds in technology to rapidly rise to management positions in high growth technology businesses or started their own companies. Off the the top of my head, I know dozens of former classmates who graduated at the same time I did and now run their own businesses, a number of them publicly traded. I frankly don't know that many that made a killing in the consulting business or on Wall Street. The burnout rate was just too high and most switched careers within 5 to 10 years. A recent study estimated that the wealth created by MIT alumni in terms of GDP would make it the 18th largest economy in the world!</p>

<p>MIT tends to attract creative and driven individuals, and the whole environment at MIT favors business creation and development. You can't walk down a hallway before meeting somebody starting some project or another. Most of the profs are involved in various ventures and a number have become multimillionaires from patents and holdings in MIT spinoffs. Robert Langer by himself holds over 400 patents and has ownership interests in over 100 companies. MIT is one of the few universities where there is an established procedure for the university to share in patent revenues with the departments, professors and their labs. Even grad students can share in the revenues. I remember in the early 80s taking classes at MIT on how to file your own patents, raise capital, put together a business plan. Venture capital is even more prestige conscious than Wall Street and the pedigree of the founding team of a startup is often more important than the business plan itself. I am convinced that the MIT connection has helped me numerous times through my career, whether it was to raise money, attract luminaries to a board of directors, sign a business deal with some major company, negotiate an acquisition. In over 30 years since I graduated, I have never had to write a resume or go through a typical job interview for any of the positions I have held. Most of the time, there simply was no job description. </p>

<p>The current environment may not be great for tech entrepreneurs, but it is still a lot better than for IBankers or business consultants, and at least you have some control over your destiny. While Wall Street will never be the same again, the technology market will rebound and some fields such as renewable energy and healthcare technology are red hot right now, even in the biggest slump in more than 30 years. </p>

<p>My personal advice to bright engineers is to stay in technology. Engineering means to create something, not being a drone in a cubicle. Sooner or later, if you work hard enough and have some level of creativity, you won't have to worry about collecting a paycheck working for somebody else.</p>

<p>I fully back everything that cellardweller just said, for it only reinforces what I've been saying: if all you want is just to follow the standard career path of an engineer at a regular company, the advantage that MIT provides over a regular engineering school is slight. Regular companies simply don't have the outlets to channel the unique technical capabilities that MIT fosters within you, nor will they pay you extra for them. Merit pay differences tend to be small for salary raises quickly plateau such that you can be by far the most creative and accomplished engineer in your company... and still be paid not much more than are the average engineers. Demanding higher pay under the threat of leaving won't really help, because you'll find that other companies won't pay you significantly more either.</p>

<p>Hence, I completely agree that MIT engineers should be looking to develop their entrepreneurial and management skills, and by that logic, MIT's edge going forward may come not from the School of Engineering but rather the Sloan School (or perhaps a combination of the two). While I'm not a fan of requiring coursework, I think that every MIT engineering student should know how to start his own company, including how to obtain venture funding, how to write a business plan, how to incorporate, how to obtain a patent, and so forth.</p>

<p>Again, as to the OP's question, I would not worry too much about the initial starting salary. In general, the main difference is going to be the type of job offered, the long term expectation from the employer hiring the MIT grad and the profiles of the employers themselves. Few regular companies come to MIT to recruit graduates for regular engineering jobs. As Sakky said, it is not be very cost effective to hire an MIT grad for regular engineering work, so those that do recruit them look for something different. Most look for future project leaders, troubleshooters, innovators. As you go through the list of top MIT recruiters you find companies such as Google, Microsoft and Oracle, in addition to investment banks and consulting companies. A good friend of mine was hired by Oracle in 1985 and became their CTO less than 10 years later. Even if you work for organizations such as Boeing or NASA, two big employers of MIT grads, most likely you will be involved in some high added value project. Outside of the Naval Academy, there are more astronauts from MIT than any other school. On a recent space shuttle mission, the entire crew was trained at MIT. Not necessarily the way to make the most money, but hardly your typical engineering job.</p>

<p>
[quote]
As Sakky said, it is not be very cost effective to hire an MIT grad for regular engineering work,

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Well, actually, it's the other way around: I said that it was not cost-effective for you as an MIT engineer to work as a regular engineer. I didn't say anything about it being cost-effective for the company to hire you for that sort of work, and in fact, it is probably highly cost-effective for them to do so. After all, they can obtain high-quality engineering talent without having to pay much of a premium for it. </p>

<p>Heck, in some cases, MIT engineers are actually paid lower than the national average. For example, for many years, MIT chemical engineers have been consistently paid lower starting salaries than are ChemE's nationwide. I would therefore argue that it is a truly brilliant strategy for regular chemical firms to hire MIT ChemE's, for they'll be bringing on board top-flight talent for cheap. But conversely, the students are just getting screwed.</p>

<p>I would not put much faith in most salary surveys because of the strong self-reporting bias. Currently, MIT engineering students typically get paid more than their peers, even if the differential is not that large at least initially.</p>

<p>My main point is that MIT engineers have plenty of options outside of "regular engineering jobs with regular engineering companies". Most do not work for regular companies and the companies that do recruit look to take advantage of the special skills the students can offer. There is strong mutual self-selection process between employers and students evidenced by the type of companies recruiting on campus as well as the fact that a very large number of students are hired outside of traditional channels.</p>

<p>Everything cellardweller and sakky are saying makes sense, except if MIT graduates have so many more lucrative options open to them, why don't the salary data reflect a much bigger differential? It looks like the median WPI grad makes more than 90% of the median MIT grad 10 years out, with about a $40,000 difference in what it takes to get into the top 10%. That's about the same difference as Dartmouth and Penn -- which is to say not a whole hell of a lot of difference (especially since, contrary to what seems to be the general belief on CC, it is the Dartmouth grads who earn more).</p>

<p>So . . . assuming MIT grads working as engineers don't systematically earn a lot less than their WPI counterparts, why don't all of those extra flashy options pull up the MIT numbers more?</p>

<p>I'm puzzled -- do these data reflect the graduates with engineering degrees only, or all graduates from the school regardless of major?</p>

<p>If all graduates from the school are counted, it seems likely that MIT's science programs are strongly bringing down the average 10-year salary. Ten years out of college, I'm likely to be finishing up a postdoctoral fellowship and pulling in a hefty $40k, regardless of how talented I may or may not be.</p>

<p>And regardless of who's counted, it seems to me that the high percentage of MIT alums who go on to complete graduate work (about 50% immediately and another 30% later) would also pull down the salary average if compared contemporaneously with peers who did not take time to attend graduate school.</p>

<p>At any rate, I can't complain about compensation packages offered to MIT engineering alums. My husband just got another raise. ;)</p>

<p>
[quote]
If MIT graduates have so many more lucrative options open to them, why don't the salary data reflect a much bigger differential?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Largely because the reported salary data that is reported is not statistically significant. It is not as if somebody called up the graduates of the class of 80' and asked them how much they are making. The data is typically collected by employment agencies based on actual encounters with job applicants. How many MIT grads look for jobs on Monster.com? I have never reported my income on any of these surveys and I am an MIT engineer. Neither have any of the alumni I know. Think of it this way: there are only about 200-300 MIT undergrads per year going into engineering after you take away the ones opting for grad school, med school, finance or consulting. That is a minuscule fraction of the number of engineers graduating each year in the US. The likelihood that you will find a significant number showing up in any salary survey is slim to none. I would not be surprised to find some of these statistics are based on 2 or 3 MIT respondents. The overwhelming majority of MIT grads are hired through word of mouth, alumni connections or other informal channels. Their salary stats will never show up because they don't go through traditional channels. Many also get stock options and bonuses which are not reported. I have hired well over a hundred engineers (mostly in computer science) in the past 20 years for various businesses and simply could not find any available MIT grads even with a lot of searching. Nearly all the MIT grads I met either ran their own businesses or were cofounders of some startup. Granted, not every MIT student is driven by making money or starting their own business: some prefer working for the government, for research hospitals, in academia or some big corporation where they can get involved in large scale projects. If your dream is to work on the Hubble telescope, the latest particle accelerator or design the next shuttle to Mars, most likely you won't be able to achieve that in your own startup. But if you really want to make money you certainly have many more lucrative options that most other engineering graduates.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Currently, MIT engineering students typically get paid more than their peers, even if the differential is not that large at least initially.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>When corrected for cost-of-living - as most MIT engineers tend to stay in the relatively expensive Northeast, with a significant fraction heading for even costlier Silicon Valley - I doubt that there is any true salary advantage at all. </p>

<p>Personally, I think the guys who are truly making out like bandits are those chemical engineers coming out of schools like LSU or UTAustin and taking jobs in the Gulf Coast where jobs are not only plentiful - it ain't called ChemE heaven for nothing - but the cost of living is absolutely dirt cheap. You can buy a house in Houston for $25k, and no I did not accidentally omit a zero. Granted, it's not a great house. But hey, it's a house. In Houston, the 4th largest city in the country. Only a few miles from downtown, Reliant Stadium, Rice University, and other amenities galore. For just $25k. </p>

<p>7226</a> Saint Augustine St, Houston, TX, 77021 - MLS ID#2634361 - Single Family Home real estate - REALTOR.com®</p>

<p>The upshot is that LSU ChemE's get paid more than do their MIT counterparts, while their living costs are far lower. Clearly the MIT engineers are getting a raw deal. I'm not going to criticize LSU or UT, but I think we can all agree that MIT is supposed to be better. Yet companies are simply unwilling to pay for MIT-quality talent. </p>

<p><a href="http://www.lsu.com/slas/career/cemployersweb.nsf/$Content/LSU+Quick+Facts?OpenDocument&ExpandSection=2#_Section2"&gt;http://www.lsu.com/slas/career/cemployersweb.nsf/$Content/LSU+Quick+Facts?OpenDocument&ExpandSection=2#_Section2&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Student</a> Interactive - Full-time Salary Survey</p>

<p>
[quote]
At any rate, I can't complain about compensation packages offered to MIT engineering alums.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Well, I can, and I have. Again, with the possible exception of CS, MIT engineers don't really seem to get paid much more than do engineers from lower-ranked schools, after correcting for differences in cost of living. Put another way, engineering is a fantastic choice for some average kid who goes to an average college, as making $60k right out of college is a sweet deal relative to any other career path he could realistically access. But for somebody who's good enough to get into MIT, engineering is a far less tempting choice, at least from a salary perspective. I agree with cellardweller that if you plan to leverage an MIT engineering degree to obtain nontraditional fare, you will probably do very well. But if you just want to be a regular engineer, your degree is something of a waste.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Ten years out of college, I'm likely to be finishing up a postdoctoral fellowship and pulling in a hefty $40k, regardless of how talented I may or may not be.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>And so it still boggles me as to why bio PhD stipends are so (relatively) lucrative - paying almost as much as even postdoc salaries. Yes, I know you said that the NIH assumes most of the stipend costs, meaning that the schools don't have to provide much additional top-up funding, but then that just begs the question of why the schools even provide such top-up funding at all. For example, I know that other disciplines, upon realizing that you have a fully-funded outside stipend, would provide you with no school funding whatsoever. </p>

<p>But in any case, you don't have to take a postdoc at all. Take your Harvard neurobiology PhD and leverage it into a nice job at a spiffy venture capital firm. Or at a biotech startup, where you might become a millionaire through your stock options.</p>

<p>My best guess: biology has medical applications that people are very, very interested in.</p>

<p>So postdoctoral fellowships are a responsibility of individual PIs from their personal grant money, not of the school itself. And most PIs, as far as I am aware, don't pay their postdocs above the NIH minimum, which is what a postdoc would get if he or she got a fellowship directly from NIH.</p>

<p>At any rate, it's primarily private schools and/or top bio programs that heavily supplement stipends, which leads me to think it's a recruiting tool, and if you want to be competitive for the best students, you have to supplement stipends just like all the other big players. Some schools don't even pay their students what NIH pays them (chart</a>).</p>

<p>But that still begs the question of why private school engineering programs - or for that matter, private school physical science - PhD programs don't pay better stipends. After all, they too are trying to compete for the best students, one would hope. Many of their students are on full outside scholarships (i.e. NSF). Yet the fact remains that a bio PhD student is almost certainly receiving a higher stipend than a physics, chemistry, or engineering PhD student at that same school.</p>