Thingish Things

What Starting Salary? Really?

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - May• 03•11

The National Association of Colleges and Employers just released its starting salary figures for 2011 college graduates.  I say they are bunk.

The Association, which sounds to me like a cheerleading group for the higher education industry, says the average starting salary for someone fresh out of college with an undergraduate degree is $50,462. In what world?

Here’s how NACE writes this on its website:

“The good news continues to roll in for the Class of 2011 as results from NACE’s Spring 2011 Salary Survey show that the average salary offer to all Class of 2011 graduates now stands at $50,462, which is up 5.9 percent over the overall average of $47,673 to Class of 2010 graduates. Salary Survey is a benefit of organizational membership, and is available it is available to e-members and nonmembers on a subscription basis.”

I live and work in New York where salaries are typically higher than in other parts of the country, and the recent college graduates I’m meeting with are asking for — and getting — far less than that. Granted, many of the candidates I am speaking with are looking to work in politics, which is longer on hours than on benefits, but still these NACE numbers seem way out of whack. The average American grownup salary is $40,711.61, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Here is how NACE lists salaries by major:

Majors for 2010-2011 bachelor’s degree graduates with the best salary offers:

Curriculum Average salary offer
Chemical engineering $66,886
Computer science $63,017
Mechanical engineering $60,739
Electrical/electronics and communications engineering $60,646
Computer engineering $60,112
Industrial/manufacturing engineering $58,549
Systems engineering $57,497
Engineering technology $57,176
Information sciences and systems $56,868
Business systems networking/telecommunications $56,808

Source: NACE

Jobs for 2010-2011 bachelor’s degree graduates with the most salary offers:

Job function Average salary offer
Accounting (private) $50,708
Consulting $59,933
Accounting (public) $45,395
Financial/treasury analysis $52,689
Sales $42,162
Investment banking (sales and trading) $65,291
Management trainee (entry-level management) $43,297

Source: NACE

I can’t prove these numbers are wrong — I have neither the time nor the tools to check them — but it smells to me like they are.  My gut says this is the college industry looking to rationalize today’s ridiculous college costs, and they should be called on it if they are manipulating statistics.

Someone who can should dig into these numbers, because they don’t ring true.  Not even close. $100 to anyone who proves me wrong.


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Comment

  1. Margaret Hamer says:

    I agree. Every year these figures make no sense to me. Recent, and not-so recent, college grads I talk with are not getting salaries anywhere near these numbers. I read all the time about unemployment and underemployment and the general difficulty in finding jobs and then see articles like the one you mentioned and wonder where the data is coming from.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.