Photo: John Walker/Flickr 

If you’re not an engineer, you might want to consider going to school to become one — at least if you’re looking to buy a home anytime soon.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently used data from Payscale, a company that tracks workers’ incomes, and its own housing affordability calculator to compare home prices that US college grads could afford depending on what degree they earned in school.

Engineering grads dominated the field, with nine different specialized degrees in that field placing grads within the top 10 highest earners by degree.

Of all 319 degrees examined, petroleum engineering was the diploma that allowed grads to make the biggest splash in the real estate market.

With estimated salaries of $168,000 after 10 years of work, petroleum engineering graduates could afford a $744,000 home.

For the purposes of the study, NAR used Payscale’s mid-career salary estimate, which predicts what a graduate will earn one decade after graduating with a given degree.

Nuclear engineering grads placed in second. Their mid-career salary of $121,000 means they can afford homes priced at $536,000.

Of the 10 most popular degrees, mechanical engineering led the way letting grads purchase homes that cost up to $452,000, followed by political science at $349,000.


Chart: National Association of Realtors

To put all this in perspective, the median price for an existing home of any type hit $234,000 in July, according to NAR.

Those who graduate with an early childhood education degree will likely have trouble financing a home at the 10-year mark. These grads placed at the bottom of the list, with a mid-career salary of $38,000. At that income-level, the most expensive home they can finance is $168,000.

However, NAR pointed out that the numbers don’t take geography into account. The organization cited an example of how teaching jobs are ubiquitous, but engineering careers are typically tied to a few tech hubs where real estate prices are considerably higher than the national average.

Check out a full list of more than 300 majors below.

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