Career Stuff: Highest Starting Salary Data, Those “Anonymous Work Surveys” and Career “Moves”

by Darwin on January 30, 2013

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything in the career category and had a few random thoughts buzzing around in my head so I thought I’d share.

  • Salary Data – First off, there’s there annual “starting salary by major” report going around.  It’s posted at Forbes, but there’s an annoying slide show to click through, so I’ll spare you the pain.  Not too many surprises and the usual technical science and engineering fields all took the top rankings and starting salary.  At the top were: 1) computer engineering at $70,400, 2) chemical engineering at $66,400 [that's me!] and 3) computer science at $64,000 with primarily technical degrees rounding out the top 10.  Unsurprisingly, these high-paying majors also have very low unemployment rates (see what the REAL unemployment is) The thing I’d point out though is that even though science majors often start out with higher starting salaries 20 years down the road they don’t always end up making more than the typical business finance economics and other finance industry related jobs. While I do okay I can’t complain too much about my pay (although I did recently concede that I’m taking Negative Wage Increases for Life) many of my friends that goofed off in college with their anthropology and history majors then went on to get the CPA or MBA, work on Wall Street and now they make 2 to 3 times what I make. Just food for thought if you’re thinking of picking a major based solely on salary, I probably wouldn’t pick a science field just for the high starting salary if you don’t actually enjoy science and math, have a high aptitude for that sort of thing, etc. There’s nothing wrong with starting off with the different major and then getting secondary degree which is focused more on a particular field wanted to learn more about what you want to do with your life. (as long as your parents or your employer is paying!).  And of course, when talking about high salaries, I have to point out that I get my free 6-figure jobs reports weekly from TheLadders – love knowing who’s hiring and what the starting offers are!
  • Employee Surveys - So do you know those surveys your company asks you to take and says that the information you provide is anonymous? Well, they’re not really that anonymous. Reason being, even though they may keep your information anonymous at the individual survey level and results, when you provide comments at the end (which I did), often times the actual comments themselves are shown to executives and even worse, they may be shared with your entire department thus removing any anonymity. That’s what happened to me – I provided some written comments that I thought would remain anonymous and they were somewhat self identifying and months later everyone’s comments appeared in a giant report that was circulated to the entire department. While my comments weren’t outrageous they were brutally honest and may have upset  certain stakeholders.  Oh well. When you take an anonymous survey and put down honest legitimate feedback you fear that your identity will be revealed?
  • How Far Would You Commute for More Money?  My old boss took a job with a firm in another state.  They offered him a relo, but he has no intention of moving due to local connections, family, his kids’ schooling, etc.  So, his 10 minute commute to our company is now 1.5 hours to the new firm.  He is allowed to work from home 1 day a week (here’s what I save each year just by working from home 1 day a week myself), but the other 4 days?  That would be hell for me.  I assume he got at least 20-30% to leave, but is any amount of money worth losing 3 hours a day of your life in the car?  (plus all the gas and depreciation and health effects of sitting?).  I suppose everyone’s got their price.  I’m not sure what mine would be, but it would probably have to be pretty damn high!  How much would it take for you to commute that far?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Wayne @ Young Family Finance January 30, 2013 at 10:34 pm

My wife commuted two hours a day (total) to a teaching job. We needed the money, but eventually the costs rack up so high that it doesn’t make as much sense. Besides the gas (which is, as we all know, ridiculous), the wear and tear on the car is unbelievable. 100 miles a day, 5 days a week tipped our car over the 100K mileage point well before its time.

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Revanche January 31, 2013 at 12:28 am

I must say, I couldn’t go back to 1.5 hour commute. I did that when I was making a low-wage and transportation was subsidized so the numbers worked out relatively well but after the first few years of being productive, that became soul-sucking. It was pretty hard to find the motivation to use that 1.5 hours each way productively – it was just too exhausting.

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Jules@Faithful With a Few January 31, 2013 at 9:31 am

I used to commute an hour,and then was spoiled with a 2 minute commute. I can’t imagine losing all those hours now that I have children.

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retirebyforty January 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Over the last few years, I just ignore the survey. I don’t think they are totally anonymous either. The written comment can be very identifying. Even the multiple choices can be telling if you are the one dissenter in the group.

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krantcents January 31, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Too many people get caught up in high starting salaries and a guarantee to riches. My daughter who majored in communications started really low, but it didn’t last very long. She is now in her thirties and makes well into 6 figures and has for several years. Many engineers (and others technical degrees) start really well, but are not management material. The real future is landing in the executive suite.

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