Can it be? Recent news reports indicate that engineers are better than journalists in many ways.


Although I graduated from Northwestern University with a journalism degree, all my college buddies are engineers. Over the years, I’ve endured a fair amount of good-natured ribbing about my chosen profession. Unfortunately, recent news reports have given my friends plenty of ammunition…

Most recently, I learned that, among this year’s crop of college graduates, engineering majors have the best job prospects. An April study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 63 percent of employers who plan to offer jobs to college graduates this year will hire engineering majors. Conversely, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the publishers will need 2 percent fewer employees by 2018. (The statistics are even worse for newspaper publishers in particular.)

Engineering majors will earn better paychecks than their fellow grads, too. According to the Collegiate Employment Research Institute, the average starting salary is $55,375 for electrical engineers and $53,375 for mechanical engineers. Average starting salary for a journalist: $21,262. Ouch.

Engineers are better spouses than journalists. According to a 2010 study conducted by Michael Aamodt, a professor emeritus at Radford University, the divorce rate among journalists is 17.5 percent. That’s better than dancers (43 percent), bar tenders (38.4 percent) and bellhops (28.4 percent), but it pales in comparison to materials engineers (12.6 percent), aerospace engineers (11.1 percent), electrical engineers (10 percent), mechanical engineers (9.2 percent) and engineering managers (8.5 percent).

Engineers are more trusted than journalists. According to Gallup’s annual Honesty and Ethics survey, only 22 percent of Americans rate the honesty and ethical standards of journalists as high or very high. That’s way better than they rate members of Congress (9 percent) and car salespeople (7 percent), but it’s way less than engineers. Some 62 percent of Americans rank engineers’ ethical standards as high or very high. Only nurses, pharmacists, physicians and police officers are more trusted than engineers.

Engineers are happier than journalists. According to a survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, only 35.7 percent of journalists are “very happy” with their lives. That’s tons better than gas station attendants (13 percent) and roofers (14 percent), but it pales in comparison to engineers (48.4 percent).

Apparently, we journalists can’t even work on the assembly line. In April, GM put more than a dozen automotive journalists to work on a mock assembly line at its plant in Orion, MI. The journalists were tasked with assembling as many wooden cars as possible in 20 minutes. The outcome: more than 25 quality errors, one car crash, an abundance of safety mishaps, and only one shipment-ready car. “I don’t think [GM] should hire any of us,” one journalist lamented.

So here’s your opportunity, engineers. What else do you do better? Go ahead. Rub it in. I can take it. Some day, the tables may turn. And the Cubs will win the World Series.