Entry-Level Salaries Higher for Class of 2019



By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

Students from the class of 2019 who obtained their first entry-level job made almost 6% more than their counterparts from the class of 2018.  That’s based on a national study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).  

The final NACE salary report on the class of 2019 includes results from nearly 730,000 students, representing 356 colleges and universities from across the nation.  Results were reported for students at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree levels.

NACE reports the overall average starting salary for the class of 2019 was $53,889, up 5.8% over the average starting salary of $50,944 for the class of 2018. This is the highest increase in starting salary reported since NACE began these studies in 2014. That class earned an average of $48,127.

Students in computer-related fields remain near the top of the class for the fourth consecutive year when it comes to average starting salary according to NACE.   Average starting salary for these graduates was $76,986, 7.8% higher than 2018 computer-related graduates. 

Engineering graduates in 2019 received a significant hike in starting salaries when compared to the class of 2018. Their overall average of $70,219 was up 5.4%. Electrical and computer engineering were the highest paid, with an overall average starting salary of $86,655. Petroleum engineers, who were the top-paid 2018 engineering majors, had an average salary that was up 8.8% in 2019.  Computer engineering students received a 2019 starting salary of $82,534, up 7.4% from 2018. 

As a group, Class of 2019 mathematics and statistics majors saw the largest increase in average starting salary. The average salary for mathematics graduates grew 8.8% from 2018’s class to $64,914. Statistics graduates saw a strong increase in their average starting salary, up 5.3% to $70,705 for the class of 2019. This is the second consecutive year that their average starting salary showed strong growth, as the class of 2018 average ($67,161) was an increase of almost 8% over 2017. 

The reported average starting salary for class of 2019 business majors was up 4.5% to $54,399, after having slipped about 1% in 2018.  Finance majors jumped 5.4% to $58,125, business administration/management majors were up 3.5% to $53,944, and accounting graduates saw an increase of 3.6% to $53,652.  Marketing ($47,777) and management sciences majors (actuarial; $60,492) posted increases of nearly 5%. Management information systems graduates have one of the highest average salaries within the business category, but their average salary rose just 1.6% to an average of $61,122. 

Graduates who earned health sciences degrees in 2019 received an overall starting salary increase of 2.6% to $53,425. That is in contrast to a decrease of 3.3% for health sciences majors in the class of 2018.  Most of the health science group is represented by registered nurses whose starting salary in 2019 was $57,416, up 1.1% from 2018.  Next year, NACE forecasts the outcome could be greatly improved since registered nurses have been essential providers of healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting salaries for social science graduates bumped up 7.1% in 2019 to $50,099.  Near the top of the list in increases are political science majors, up 7.8% to $45,676. 

Meanwhile, NACE reports that both psychology and visual and performing arts majors saw improved starting salaries in 2019 when compared to 2018.  While 2018 psychology majors were down 1.1%, in 2019 their starting salaries increased 6.7% to $37,653.  Visual and performing arts starting salaries in 2018 were off 1.4% but jumped 5.5% in 2019 to an average of $39,358.