Good news for grads: Average starting salaries for grads with bachelor’s degrees rise 5.3 percent

Daniel Pasco Aguilar
Daniel Pasco Aguilar

Students graduating in June and entering the workforce are in for some good news on the job front. Starting salaries for FY13 graduates are up a little over 5 percent, according to a National Association of Colleges and Employers April 2013 Salary Survey.

Salaries dropped in 2010 as a result of the Great Recession, but are now on the upswing – to the delight and relief of both graduating students and career counselors.

At the end of last academic year, 74 percent of graduating University of Oregon seniors had “a plan,” which included a job offer, graduate school or another opportunity other than work, says UO Career Center Director Daniel Pascoe Aguilar. “Of course, we’d like to get that number up to 100 percent,” he says.

The economy is helping, with four out of five employers who took part in NACE’s Job Outlook Spring Update survey reporting they are planning to hire full-time employees and/or interns this spring.

The report also shows promising early projections for Fall 2013 recruiting. Approximately 30 percent of surveyed employers say they plan to hire more new grads come fall, while about half anticipate maintaining their hiring at current levels. The report also reveals that 59 percent of internships are expected to be converted to paid jobs in 2013.

According to the NACE survey, the average starting salary for college graduates stands at $44,928, up from the 2012 average salary of $42,666.

With an increase of 9.4 percent, health sciences garnered the highest salary growth, which brings the average starting salary for those graduates to $49,713. Business also saw a large gain — 7.1 percent — bumping the average salary for those graduates to $54,234.

Education also made a leap. The average starting salary for education majors climbed 5.1 percent to $40,480.

“Gains in the education career sector are particularly encouraging,” says Robin Holmes, the UO's vice president for student affairs.

Aguilar says his staff reminds students that, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, they will change careers more than eight times. “Therefore, we need to help them see their education not only as a major, but as a set of transferrable skills,” he says.

“We are trying to get students away from the linear thinking of this major equals this job, and get them to decide what they want to do. What careers haven’t even been invented yet? How can they be innovative in charting their own course?” Aguilar says.

To help students think outside the career box, Aguilar and other UO Career Center staff walk them through several processes designed to figure out who they are – what their values are, what makes them happy, what fills them with passion. Students can sign up for a variety of workshops and courses – counseling, skill development workshops, events, fairs, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator testing, resumé and cover letter writing, and even budgeting and financial planning.

Ultimately, says Aguilar, “We are not here just to educate students but to help them with life development, prepare them, get them ready to be innovators and contributors, filled with passion and purpose and finding their path.”

Holmes agrees. “Just as professors are developing individuals through their coursework, so, too, is the entire university here to support students to find their purpose and their place,” she says.

- by Aria Seligmann, UO Office of Strategic Communications