Generally, when I talk to potential students about pursuing an education and career in Engineering, I focus on the application of Science and Technology to solve the problems of today and tomorrow in order to make the world a better place. However, I do not recall ever telling a potential Engineering recruit that this profession could make you rich – I mean really rich. But it is nice to read that it is possible. The sales recruiting firm Aaron Wallis recently released an analysis of the top 100 billionaires in the world, listing data on net worth, first job, job category, first degree and degree type.
As the list is, understandably, quite international, there is little standardization amongst degrees and degree names. However, by my count, 23 of the top 100 billionaires attained Engineering degrees for their first degree. Looking at STEM degrees more deeply, four have degrees in Computer Science, two in Mathematics, one in Physics, and one in Medicine. The fields of Finance, Economics and Business claim 27 of the top spots, with Law claiming another six. Other degrees also represented include Art and Art History (three), English (two), History (two), Philosophy (two), Political Science (one) and Psychology (one). It should be noted that a number of people on the list did not attain a degree.
Examining those in Engineering, fields including Chemical, Civil, Computer and Electrical are explicitly cited. The Engineers include well-known names such as Jeff Bezos (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), founder of Amazon.com, Michael Bloomberg (Electrical Engineering), founder of Bloomberg, LP, and Larry Page (Computer Engineering), co-founder of Google, Inc. It is clear that these Engineers have made an impact on the world – and continue to do so.
I am impressed by the breadth of degrees (and lack of degrees) on this list and am not surprised that Engineering is so well-represented. The problem-solving skills learned when pursuing an Engineering degree can truly lead to success in a variety of fields, including entrepreneurship and management. And, as I have stressed in a number of my previous blogs, studying a STEM degree sets a foundation for learning through life – whether it is to continue in a technical field, or move on to other professions, such as Law or Medicine. The fact is, no door is ever closed upon the completion an Engineering degree – to the contrary, the degree will open many more. (And there is a good chance that you will earn a good wage – although I make no promises on making the billionaire list!)