Grads May Make More Money

Graduating in May? Good timing.

College graduates hired in 2004 are expected to make more money than those from the past two years.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported an expected 12.7 percent increase in hiring of college graduates in its latest quarterly starting salary survey, which was released earlier this month.

“The overall economy started picking up in the last half of 2003, so future labor needs have been increasing,” said Peter Orazem, professor of economics.

Larry Hanneman, director of engineering career services, said he wasn’t surprised to hear there was an expected increase in starting salaries.

“I’m not surprised to see an increase, given that we’re seeing an increase in recruiting activity this year compared to last year,” Hanneman said.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported computer engineering and chemical engineering are at the top of the list for the most lucrative college degrees. Both disciplines showed a slight increase in starting salaries since last year.

Computer engineering starting salaries reached $53,117, a small increase from last year, while chemical engineering salaries have risen 2.5 percent to $52,563.

“[The] need for quantitative skills has increased over the last 20 years, which is why we see an increase in engineering, especially,” Orazem said.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported employers also indicated hiring increases for computer science, information sciences and systems and management information systems majors, none of which has seen an increase since 2001.

Computer science majors’ average starting salaries increased 8.9 percent to $48,656, and management information systems graduates are looking at starting salaries around $41,100, a 1.3 percent increase over last year.

Computer science is becoming a part of daily life for virtually everyone, so salaries will increase to fulfill demand, said Drew Miller, senior in computer science.

“We’ll probably see a lot more people going into the field in the next four or five years,” Miller said.

He said he plans to graduate in May 2005 and pursue a career with legal software in Iowa.

“I’m in computer science because I find computers fascinating, and the fact that it’s a relatively lucrative career is just a bonus,” Miller said.

Liberal arts majors are also expected to see a starting salary increase of 3.5 percent this year. Despite the increase, the major continues to rank on the lower end of the starting salary scale. Salaries offers in 2004 are estimated at $30,153.

Miller suggested students move forward with cautious optimism. He said it’s important to remember that sometimes students with majors that have very high average starting salaries also have fewer job offers to choose from.

Hanneman said persistent effort often leads to jobs.

“I think that students were concerned by what they read and saw in the media [about the economy], but those who put forth a proactive effort will be successful,” Hanneman said.

Though the colleges and employers association reported salary increases for about two-thirds of college majors, some others are expected to suffer a small decrease.

Psychology majors are estimated to see an 8 percent decrease, taking their average starting salary down to $25,032.

Orazem said he doesn’t see any reason for students to worry if their major is expected to have lower salaries this year.

“Your first job is not your last job. Firms will train you, so if you’re trainable you will be of value to them,” Orazem said. “A major doesn’t lock you into one job — just be flexible.”

Here’s Last Semester’s info for MIS Majors:
Department | Total Professionally Occupied | Temp work | Seeking
MIS 75% 15% 10%

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