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  • Hampered by the Pandemic, Salaries Up Only Slightly for Class of 2021

    July 11, 2022 | By Kevin Gray

    A stack of people figurines standing on piles of coins.

    TAGS: compensation, salaries, surveys, nace insights, coronavirus

    The overall average salary for Class of 2021 graduates is $55,911, which is only 1.2% higher than that for the Class of 2020 ($55,260). The fact that the increase in starting salary is small may simply be a case of timing as the Class of 2021 was still experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the job market.

    Vaccines were not readily available to the public until early 2021, so the job market for new college graduates was not as robust as it currently is. For example, NACE research showed that employers planned to hire 7.2% more graduates from the Class of 2021 than they did from the Class of 2020. Just one year later, the planned hiring increase for the Class of 2022 exceeded 30%.

    In terms of salaries for the Class of 2021’s categories of majors, computer and information sciences are the highest paid with an overall average salary of $81,202. However, this overall average starting salary is up by less than 1% compared to last year. (See Figure 1.)

    The overall average salary paid to engineering graduates moved in the opposite direction, as it fell from $72,115 to $71,516, for a drop of less than 1%. The remaining three fields—math and statistics, business, and health professions—show higher overall average starting salaries, ranging from 1.4% to almost 3%.

    The Summer 2022 Salary Survey report provides actual starting salaries (not projections) for the college Class of 2021 and serves as the final salary report for the Class of 2021. The figures reported are for base salaries only and do not include bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, or overtime rates. Data were gathered from Class of 2021 graduates through December 31, 2021, and reported to NACE through May 13, 2022. The salary data presented here were reported to NACE through its national Class of 2021 First-Destination Survey by approximately 293 colleges and universities nationwide and represent data for almost 686,000 graduates at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree levels. Most of the analysis provided here, however, focuses on the data provided for more than 66,976 bachelor’s degree graduates. The Summer 2022 Salary Survey report will be available later in July.

    Figure 1

  • NACE's Fall 2023 Competency Symposium