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Higher Starting Salaries for the College Class of 2011

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Graduating from college this spring? Be glad you didn’t finish your degree last year—the job market looks brighter for you than it did for your class of 2010 counterparts.

According to recent surveys conducted by NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, more bachelor’s degree graduates from the class of 2011 are expected to be hired than occurred last year with the class of 2010. Average starting salaries have also increased.

Job Outlook Brighter for 2011 College Grads

Established in 1956, NACE forecasts hiring trends; tracks legal issues in employment, the job search, and hiring practices; and provides college and employer professionals with benchmarks for their work. NACE is considered the leading source of information on the employment of the college educated due to connections with more than 5,200 college career services professionals at nearly 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide, and more than 3,000 HR/staffing professionals focused on college relations and recruiting.

NACE’s Job Outlook 2011 Survey and Winter 2011 Salary Survey show that the job market is off to a positive start for the class of 2011. Employers responding to the NACE Job Outlook 2011 Fall Preview Survey reported plans to hire 13.5% more new bachelor’s degree graduates from the Class of 2011 than they did from the Class of 2010.

When asked to describe the overall job market for Class of 2011 bachelor’s degree graduates, the largest group—almost half of employers— characterized it as “good.” In comparison, the largest group saw the job market as just “fair” in 2010.

Higher Average Starting Salaries for College Class of 2011

CNN Money reports that college graduates are also being offered bigger paychecks for the first time since 2008. Students who will graduate this spring are receiving job offers with starting salaries averaging $50,034 per year, an increase of 3.5% from last year, according to NACE’s Job Outlook 2011.

NACE reports hiring trends uses a hiring index scale of 0 to 200, with 100 representing no change and scores below 100 representing a decrease. Scores above 100 suggest that hiring will increase, while scores below 100 suggest that hiring will decrease. (NACE created its hiring index in October 2009.)

The hiring of current college seniors has slowed slightly in 2011, but it’s going almost as well as it has at any time in the past 16 months. NACE said the hiring index fell to 120.9 in January from 123.7 in December, but the trend may be seasonal. January 2010 was the low point in the group’s monthly survey, and hiring was strongest in spring, reports Bloomberg Business Week. It read 127.7 in November and 126.4 in October. On February 17, 2011, the Ithaca Journal reported that recent college graduates have a 126.4 rating, compared to 86.8 at this time last year.

NACE surveys employers that belong to its organization about their hiring intentions monthly from October through April. During January, the group surveyed 98 companies.

Average Salary Information, Class of 2011

According to CNN Money, NACE reports that business majors noticed the biggest increase in average starting salaries, with salary offers rising nearly 2% to $48,089. Among business majors, accounting majors received salary offers of $49,022 (up 2.2%) while finance majors were offered an average $50,535, an increase of 1.9%. Job offers for business administration/management graduates dropped slightly to $44,171, down 2.3%.

Overall, the average starting salary for engineering graduates decreased slightly by 0.3% with an average offer of $59,435. However, specific engineering fields experienced increases. Electrical engineering majors are receiving an average salary offer of $61,690 (up 4.4%) while offers for mechanical engineers increased 3.8% to $60,598.

Employers Searching for Students in All Majors

Ithaca College Career Director John Bradac told the Ithaca Journal that there have been an increasing number of employers posting job openings at the school compared to last year. The most surprising increase he’s seen have been advertising and marketing positions.“Employers seem to be open to any major,” he said. “And that is definitely an exciting improvement.”

Binghamton University’s Career Development Center Director Nancy Paul noticed a similar trend at her school, telling the newspaper, “Employers have really been interested in students who present themselves well and have communication skills down. They are seeking attitudes and qualities that transcend academic disciplines.”

Top Jobs for the College Class of 2011: Accounting Pays

Results of NACE’s Winter 2011 Salary Survey show that accounting majors are currently receiving the most job offers among the college class of 2011 graduates. Private and public accounting positions make up two of the top three jobs.

Jobs in consulting, financial / treasury analysis, sales, and management round out the top job offers for 2011 grads earning bachelor’s degrees, but NACE will continue to monitor salary offers to the current class and release its next salary report, Spring 2011 Salary Survey, in April.

  • Accounting private sector, $50,708 average salary offer
  • Consulting, $59,933
  • Accounting public sector, $45,395
  • Financial / treasury analysis, $52,689
  • Sales, $42,162
  • Investment banking / sales and trading, $65,291
  • Management trainee / entry-level management, $43,297
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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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