Salaries increasing for new graduates

by David Hernandez

Starting salaries for graduates of the class of 2012 have increased 3.4 percent from the salaries of college graduates in 2011. The latest research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers reveals 2012 graduates boast an average salary of $44,455, compared to the average salary of $42,987 for 2011 graduates.

According to Forbes Magazine, the NACE survey reports computer engineers are earning the highest pay, topping the list at $70,400, followed by chemical engineers at $66,400 and computer scientists at $64,400.

While engineering majors are the top earning among broad disciplines, with a $61,913 average salary, earnings have increased across all categories of majors. Education majors saw the highest salary increase (5.4 percent), trailed by business (4.2 percent) and communications (4.1 percent).

SDSU Career Services Director James Tarbox attributes the increase in salaries to the recovering economy, which he believes allows greater competition among employers for graduates.

“We’ve had a lot more employers coming onto campus, interviewing students and making offers,” Tarbox said. From Fall 2011 to Fall 2012, there was a 28 percent increase of on-campus interviews, he added.

For San Diego State graduates, the mean reported salary for bachelor’s degrees increased 2.8 percent, from $40,080 to $41,215 for May and August 2012 graduates, according to SDSU’s Undergraduate Outcomes Survey.

Tarbox is cautious when looking at the report from NACE because of its new database, which now collects salary information from employers, excluding universities across the country, such as SDSU.

“NACE used to be pretty much aligned with what we we’re doing, especially because we were contributing,” Tarbox said.

Regarding recent reports, Tarbox said he notices a greater disparity of salary data between SDSU and NACE.

However, Tarbox believes students can receive the greatest salary possible by negotiating, using salary data from various sources as a tool.

“One of the great things about working with a college populations, especially as they search for jobs and negotiate salaries, is that they understand that what they see in print might not be what they get, or they can get more than what they see in print,” Tarbox said. “So they need to use it as a negotiation tool.”

While the NACE data is grounded on employer-based data of approximately 400,000 employers, SDSU’s figures are based on student survey information self-reported approximately a month before graduation to a month after. Both surveys are based on the salaries of bachelor’s degrees.