BYU professors discuss five highest paying jobs in Provo, Orem

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BYU professor Doran Wilde designed microprocessors like these before teaching at BYU. He says that there is high demand for computer engineers. (Natalie Stoker)
BYU professor Doran Wilde designed microprocessors like these before teaching at BYU. He said there is high demand for computer engineers. (Natalie Stoker)

New jobs are gaining more traction in Utah markets, thanks to new technology and a fast-growing economy. These new opportunities can be ideal for BYU graduates.

The five highest-paying jobs in Provo and Orem are securities, commodities and financial service agent; computer hardware engineer; architectural and engineering manager; computer and information system manager; and architect, according to OpenData.Utah.gov.

BYU professors said the job opportunities for the these professions are on the rise because they require workers to constantly adapt as these fields become increasingly relevant to the public. The following list excludes an outlier job, chief executives, whose median pay is $77.80 per hour.

1. Securities, commodities and financial services sales agents make $64.80 per hour.

This includes people who buy and sell stocks, advise others about finances and invest in trading firms. OpenData said these positions require a bachelor’s degree, but hourly wages for inexperienced sales agents can be as low as $20.80 per hour.

Steven Thorley is the H. Taylor Peery Professor of Finance at the BYU Marriott School of Management. He teaches investments in the MBA program at the Marriott School, is a co-editor of the Financial Analysts Journal and consults with several large institutional investors.

Thorley said good salespeople know how to sell to people who might want to invest with them. These bring in investment sales commissions, which he said can be very high.

“On the downside, those professions also have a high failure rate,” Thorley said. “There are people that try to do it, but are just not that good at selling. But for the ones that are successful, I’m not surprised that they are one of the highest-paid groups.”

Thorley predicted that within a few years, “BYU will be ranked in the top ten undergraduate finance programs in the country, even though the finance major is relatively new.”

He said some sites already rank BYU’s finance major as number one in the United States, because of its quality and low cost.

2. Computer hardware engineers make $55.80 per hour.

These workers “research, design, develop and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks and routers,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

OpenData again shows the median hourly pay for inexperienced workers decreases to $33.90.

Doran Wilde is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at BYU.

“There is a high demand for good, competent computer engineers, and the supply is very low,” Wilde said. “This keeps wages high.”

Wilde noted the great demand for programmers who can continue to learn in the field and apply their skills to different technologies.

“Computer engineers are sought after because they understand the hardware that they are programming on,” Wilde said. “Not just the (computer). So they can do specialized programming for custom hardware, like cars.”

Wilde said local companies like IMSAR and SpotterRF recruit BYU electrical engineering students and computer engineering students who have designed programs and products for these companies because their work shows potential.

The BYU Electrical and Computer Engineering overview page describes the differences between electrical and computer engineering, and the job opportunities available to each.

3. Architectural and engineering managers make $54.20 per hour.

People in these occupations “plan, coordinate and direct activities in architectural and engineering companies,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There is no department of architecture at BYU, but there is a College of Engineering.

The Department of Workforce Services shows some current job openings in Utah, mostly in Salt Lake.

4. Computer and information system managers make $53.20 per hour.

Reid Grawe is the director of Information Systems Placement for the BYU Marriott School of Management. He said they use technology “to solve business problems.”

“We take what has been built in the (computer) and what’s surrounding it, and we build programs that solve the business concerns or needs that are out there,” Grawe said. “We focus on the delivery of the business solution.”

Grawe said these professionals could be paid more because they “are actually solving a business need or concern, and that is where the money is made. You actually may have helped produce the base decision that led to the profit.”

5. Architects, except landscape and naval, make a median pay of $52.10 per hour.

These workers are the ones who design buildings, but they do not include landscape architects, marine engineers or naval architects.

These jobs usually require a five-year bachelor’s degree from a school of architecture. Job competition can be heavy.

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