Study Shows 7.1 Percent Increase in Average Starting Salary Offer for Class of 2008; Accounting Checks In at +2.9

Despite a less-than-robust economy, the overall average starting salary offer to new college graduates, regardless of major, increased by 7.1 percent over last year, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

The Summer 2008 issue of NACE’s Salary Survey shows that, in general, average starting salary offers to 2007-2008 bachelor’s degree graduates are on the rise.

“The continued economic downturn and results from the Spring 2008 issue of Salary Survey suggested salary increases to new college graduates might be leveling off,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. “However, the current report shows that salaries continue to rise in many disciplines—including some that appeared flat in the spring.”

For example, the average salary offer to business disciplines increased by four percent over last year at this time, but the Spring 2008 report showed just a 1.6 percent increase.

In terms of specific majors, accounting graduates received a 2.9 percent increase to their average offer, raising it to $48,085 – a significant change from the Spring report, when no increase was reported for these grads.

Business administration/management grads fared well, posting a 5.1 percent increase for an average offer of $45,915. Economics majors saw a healthy increase of 4.2 percent, for an average offer of $50,507. Finance grads’ average offer of $48,547 was a 2.8 increase over last year, and the average offer to marketing graduates rose 4.7 percent to $42,053.

Salary offers to computer science graduates rocketed up 13.1 percent over last year to an average of $60,416. Conversely, information sciences and systems graduates saw a modest 3.1 percent increase, bringing their average offer to $52,418.

The average offer to chemical engineering graduates rose 6.4 percent to $63,165. Not surprisingly, many offers to these grads came from petroleum and coal products manufacturers, which offered an average salary of $71,976.

Civil engineering graduates also posted a 6.4 percent increase, bringing their average offer to $51,632. Mechanical engineering grads received a healthy 5.3 percent increase, boosting their average offer to $57,009. The offer to electrical engineering graduates rose a modest 2.9 percent, bringing their offer to $56,910.

Liberal arts graduates also saw rising salaries. As a group, their average offer rose from $32,348, as reported in the Summer 2007 Salary Survey, to $36,419 in this issue – a 12.6 percent increase.

It is interesting to note that this increase is consistent with results posted for liberal arts grads throughout the 2007-08 year: The Winter 2008 Salary Survey showed a nine percent increase, while the Spring 2008 report showed a 12.9 percent increase over the Spring 2007 report.

NACE will publish the final salary report for the Class of 2008 in September. NACE will offer a first glance at the hiring outlook for the Class of 2009 with the Job Outlook 2009 Fall Preview, slated for release later this summer.