News: College Degrees With The Highest Starting Salaries

News: College Degrees With The Highest Starting Salaries

A new salary survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has some good news for 2012 college graduates. The overall median salary for new grads has risen to $43,000, up 4.5% from the median for the class of 2011 (I’ve rounded NACE’s numbers to the nearest $1,000).  A Bethlemen, Pa. non-profit, NACE links college placement offices with employers. Its employer members tend to be large companies, but for its salary survey it went beyond its members and combed through data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau and a master set of data developed by a compensation measurement company called Job Search Intelligence.

Engineering majors earn the best salaries, according to the survey, at a median of $59,000. Not surprisingly, the lowest earners graduate in humanities and social science, with a median salary of just $35,000.

The survey includes some interesting information about the earnings of students who pursue a particular focus within a major. It also offers some clues about where those students are most likely to find work.  For instance, the top earners among engineering grads are those who concentrate on computer engineering. They make a median of $68,000. Among computer science majors, those who go into the information sector earn the most, at $64,000. For business grads, a finance focus is the most lucrative, with those who take jobs as financial managers earning $66,000.

While humanities and social science majors have the least lucrative starting salaries, those who major in political science earn the best, starting at a median of $38,000. The biggest employer for humanities grads? The education services industry, with an average starting salary of $38,000.

The worst earners in NACE’s survey are, not surprisingly, visual and performing arts majors. Their biggest employer is “retail trade,” with an average starting salary of just $26,000.

Here is a list of median salaries by discipline, with the top-earning major leading the list.

Engineering                                    $59,000
Computer Science                         $56,000
Business                                           $48,000
Health Sciences                              $43,000
Math & Sciences                              $41,000
Communications                            $40,000
Education                                         $37,000
Humanities & Social Sciences      $35,000

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