Survey shows expected salaries for various occupations in the area

Rachel Sauer is not worried about making enough money to support herself when she graduates.

Sauer, a senior from Fredericksburg, is studying management and plans to work in corporate law. Management is the highest-paid occupation in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and legal occupations are second, according to the National Compensation Survey released earlier this year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to the survey, workers in management occupations earned about $91,000 annually, the most out of the 21 major occupational groups surveyed. At the top of the scale, financial managers had an average salary of nearly $130,000 annually.

Sauer said she chose to major in management because she is a problem solver and likes leading people – not because of the money.

TCU graduated about 70 management students in 2007, according to the TCU Fact Book.

Gregory Stephens, chair of the management department, said management students have a wide variety of careers to choose from.

“We prepare them with an understanding of the basic elements,” Stephens said.

Students receive the highest-paying jobs by starting in any career, from nonprofit organizations to human resources, and moving up the corporate ladder, Stephens said.

Marco Riquelme, a junior from Paraguay, said he decided to major in entrepreneurial management because he is passionate about it.

“Rather than the salary, it is about the feeling of personal achievement of creating something from nothing,” Riquelme said.

The survey showed social work was one of the lowest-paying jobs that requires a four-year degree. Social workers earn almost $40,000 annually.

David Jenkins, chair of the social work department, said he chose social work because he wanted to work in a profession that had a human element.

“I was searching for a career that was challenging, interesting and where I could really make a difference,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he hopes the salary for social workers will improve soon.

“Those that make a difference to the frail and needy are not getting paid enough, and I hope that is changing,” Jenkins said.

In 2007, 25 students graduated with a degree in social work, according to the TCU Fact Book.

Businesses use occupational wage data to establish pay plans, make decisions about plant relocation and negotiate collective bargaining, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics press release. Some individuals use survey information to choose potential careers.

Aimee Housinger, a junior finance and supply chain management major, said she decided to go into business because she thought it was interesting and because it is one of the highest-paid professions.

Candace Brooks, a senior theatre major and education minor, said she wants to become a theatre teacher and money was not a factor in her decision.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an exceptional salary,” Brooks said. “But if I love what I do, I’m hoping things will work out.”

The 2006-2007 graduating senior survey showed that almost 35 percent of TCU graduates who were employed full time made between $40,000 and $49,999 the year after graduation and made nearly 20 percent between $30,000 and $39,999. However, the graduates’ salaries ranged from less than $20,000 to $89,999 annually.

Money always plays a role in the types of careers people choose, said Kimshi Hickman, interim co-executive director of University Career Services.

“It’s a concern to anyone, but people should base their decisions about jobs on more than money,” Hickman said.

According to the survey, full-time workers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area earned about $22 per hour in March 2007, and people working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks earned more than $43,000 annually.

Full-time computer and mathematical science occupations and architecture and engineering occupations followed legal occupations in the salary hierarchy, averaging $73,500 and $67,500 a year, respectively. Food preparation and serving-related occupations ranked lowest on the pay chart.

Survey data showed workers in establishments with more than 500 employees earned nearly $53,500 annually, about $15,300 more than workers in establishments with fewer than 99 employees and about $13,400 more than companies with 100 to 499 employees.

The survey results included occupational work levels determined by four leveling factors: knowledge, job controls and complexity, contacts and physical environment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics surveyed more than 2.7 million workers from about 800 establishments in the Dallas/Fort Worth combined statistical area, which includes 17 counties, according to a press release.