Average Starting Salary for College Grads is $45,327

Posted April 17, 2014 by
Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum Engineer photo courtesy of Shutterstock

It isn’t uncommon for many of our employer clients to grossly underestimate the going rate for recent graduates. Almost every employer wants to pay their employees fairly but few have the time or resources to accurately determine just what is fair.

Example? Last week an employer posted a job to our site for people who graduated within the past three years and who are interested in an entry-level sales position. That was fine except the compensation they were willing to pay was $30,000 per year. That’s $15,327 less than the average starting salary for a 2013 college graduate of $45,327. As you may have guessed, the response to their posting was less than overwhelming. We tried to explain the problem to the employer but the reaction was typical: a recent grad should be grateful for any employment opportunity and so the pay rate shouldn’t matter. Well, it does matter.

When people have a choice between two similar opportunities — and most graduating this year do — they’re going to gravitate to the position paying them more, especially if it is a lot more. Who wouldn’t? Would the human resource manager posting the job be willing to take a cut in pay of 1/3 simply because her potential employer thinks that she should be grateful to have a job?

Circling back, how does an employer determine just what is a fair amount to pay a student, recent graduate, or anyone else? There’s this thing called the Internet and it has a surprising amount of information. Let’s say that you’re hiring a sales person in Jacksonville, Florida. Run that search at CollegeRecruiter.com and you’ll see on the left side of the search results page a box that displays what a handful of employers are paying sales people in Jacksonville, Florida. Or use statistics published by the National Association of Colleges and Employer, Society for Human Resource Management, Glassdoor, Salary.com, or any number of other resources. But don’t just make up a number and then get upset when the candidates you need aren’t lining up around the block to work for you at a huge discount.

According to the April 2014 Salary Survey published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the top paying majors for those graduating in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree are:

  1. Petroleum Engineering – $95,300
  2. Computer Science – $67,300
  3. Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering – $67,000
  4. Computer Engineering – $66,600
  5. Chemical Engineering – $66,000
  6. Mechanical Engineering – $63,100
  7. Engineering Technology – $63,000
  8. Electrical/Electronics and Communications Engineering – $62,300
  9. Management Information Systems/Business – $62,100
  10. Civil Engineering – $62,100
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