Entry Level Engineers Out-Earn PHDs

The glut of rapidly growing tech giants and startups in the Bay Area has created a talent crunch, particularly when it comes to computer engineering talent. As a result, salaries are getting pushed rapidly upwards, with the average computer engineer salary above $100,000 in Silicon Valley.

When you add in bonuses and stock options, it’s possible for an engineer in the Bay Area to earn in the six figures right out of school.

A computer science professor at Stanford told The New York Times that he had heard of at least one $160,000 offer for a graduate, and expected that there were larger numbers out there. One recruiter is placing entry-level grads with base salaries alone above $80,000. And big companies offering upwards of $100,000 for entry-level grads has forced smaller startups to offer bigger and bigger deals.

A signing bonus for computer engineers just five years out of school can be in the $60,000 range. These sorts of figures aren’t typical, but they’re increasingly common in Silicon Valley.

The result is that computer engineers in their 20s can potentially out-earn Ph.D.s and many other professionals in prestigious jobs, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. For example, optometrists earn an average $94,000 a year, while math and computer science professors earn $72,000 a year and psychologists make $63,000.

That might be reason enough to change your major.