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  • Early Data Show Gains, Dips in Starting Salaries

    October 11, 2017 | By NACE Staff

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    TAGS: compensation, salaries, trends and predictions, surveys, nace insights

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    Early data for the Class of 2017 show increases in starting salaries for several disciplines and dips for others, according to NACE’s Fall 2017 Salary Survey. Note, however, that the data at this early juncture are preliminary and limited.

    Currently, the overall average starting salary for the Class of 2017 stands at $51,022, a drop of 2.9 percent from the initial average salary ($52,569) for the Class of 2016 reported at this time last year.

    But, even though the overall average salary has dipped, the salaries for some majors have gone up. For example, the average salary for those earning degrees in computer science now stands at $74,183, up 3.7 percent over last year’s opening salary of $71,534. These graduates are the highest paid at the bachelor’s degree level.

    Graduates earning degrees in the physical sciences, e.g. chemistry, physics, and geology, also saw an increase. Their current overall average starting salary is $47,026, up 2.5 percent from $45,872 last year.

    The average starting salaries for both English and history majors are also higher now than they were last year. Their current starting salaries stand at $40,466 for English majors (up 7.4 percent) and $38,529 for history majors (up 4.3 percent).

    On the other hand, the average starting salaries for a number of disciplines have dropped. Although engineering graduates place second on the top-paid list for 2017 bachelor’s degree graduates, their overall average salary of $64,530 is down 2.4 percent from last year’s average of $66,121. (See Figure 1.) However, this year’s average may be more realistic, as last year’s average salary was up 7 percent due to one respondent reporting a large number of extremely high salaries.

    Class of 2017 business majors open the reporting year with an average starting salary of $52,124. This is down from last year’s starting salary of $53,836, a decrease of 3.2 percent.

    Health sciences majors also lost some ground, with their overall average slipping almost 3 percent, from $52,074 to $50,564. Other than registered nursing, which barely changed, the number of reported salaries in all of the other categories but one was less than 100, emphasizing the effect that low numbers of reported salaries can have on the overall average.

    Meanwhile, the overall average starting salary for mathematics/statistics graduates is also lower, and significantly so. This year’s reported salary of $53,259 is down 15 percent from last year’s average of $62,985. Again, the large dips in these salaries are correlated to the relatively low number of salaries and the limited data that is reported.

    Class of 2017 psychology graduates have slightly lower salaries, and their overall average salary is down 2.6 percent from $35,587 last year to $34,664 this year.

    Data for the Fall 2017 Salary Survey report were collected from July 12, 2017, through September 15, 2017, and were provided by 81 colleges and universities nationwide that participate in NACE’s national First-Destination Survey. The data are preliminary salaries for Class of 2017 graduates in the date range from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. The final salary numbers for the Class of 2017 will be released in the Spring 2018 Salary Survey report in conjunction with the Class of 2017 First-Destination Survey results. The Fall 2017 Salary Survey report will be available later this fall.

    Figure 1: Top-paid majors for class of 2017 bachelor’s degree graduates

    Broad Category Number of 2017 Reported Salaries 2017 Average Salary
    Computer & Information Sciences 950 $74,183
    Engineering 4,218 $64,530
    Engineering Technologies 271 $57,619
    Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies 593 $54,426
    Mathematics & Statistics 221 $53,259
    Business 8,241 $52,124
    Health Professions & Related Programs 1,563 $50,564
    Physical Sciences 130 $47,026
    Source: Fall 2017 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers
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