Salaries climb for 2012 grads

September 19, 2012

Getting a college degree can do much more than help you fulfill a dream. Graduating from college can help ensure financial independence for you and your family, as getting a degree can significantly boost your earning potential now, and in future.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals whose highest level of education is high school made an average of $31,000 per year in 2010. For those whose highest degree is a bachelor's degree, the average was $58,000.

In addition, recent research from the Pew Research Center reveals that over the course of a 40-year career, college graduates are expected to make about $650,000 more than those without a college degree.

New research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) revealed that graduates of the class of 2012 are making even more than those who graduated a year ahead of them. 

The September 2012 Salary Survey researched starting salaries for more new college graduates in more than 90 disciplines at the bachelor's degree level. It found that the overall average salary for class of 2012 bachelor’s degree graduates inched upward 1.7 percent to $44,259 from the overall average of $43,521 posted by the Class of 2011. 

"It's important to note that, while the overall increase is small, all broad categories of majors have seen an increase" said Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.
Business and communications majors experienced the highest overall salary increase -2.2 percent. Business majors from the class of 2012 currently earn an average of $51,541, while their counterparts in communications earn $42,286.

Engineering majors saw a 1.9 percent increase in their starting salaries to an average of $60,639 per year.

Other majors that experienced salary increases include education (1.6 percent to $39,080),  computer sciences (1.4 percent to $60,038), health sciences (1.4 percent to $46,567) and humanities and social sciences (1.4 percent to $36,824).

As for the industries that offered new college graduates the highest salaries, companies that manage other firms and enterprises paid new employees $55,046. Manufacturing companies paid new graduate employees just slightly less - $55,011. Other high-paying industries include construction, finance, insurance and wholesale trade.

Industries that hired the greatest number of new college graduates include educational services companies, professional, scientific and technical service companies, healthcare and social assistance companies, government agencies, finance and insurance.

While getting a college degree is a worthwhile challenge, experts say moms who want to go to college have an advantage over other students. Various types of financial aid can make it easier for them to afford getting a degree. These include grants and scholarships for mothers.

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