Student Choices Impact Starting Salaries

The employment forecast for current computer science majors and recent grads is cautiously optimistic, according to numerous sources including a study by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.

The researchers conclude that the demand for computer majors will continue rebounding as the recovery proceeds, although the unemployment rate for recent college graduates in information systems spiked at 11.7 percent, while the rates for majors in computer science and mathematics are 7.8 percent and 6.0 percent, respectively. The Labor Department predicts that there could be as many as 108,000 computer systems analyst openings between 2008 and 2018 and tech job cuts in 2011 were at their lowest level in 15 years, according to outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.

But students need to do their homework and methodically select their technical specialty and future industry, if they want to earn big bucks after graduation.

A report from career services at the University of Pennsylvania shows a wide fluctuation in starting salaries based upon a graduate’s specialization, position and industry. For example, among last year’s engineering graduates, technology program managers typically earned $100,500, while those involved in design received $57,000 on average. And the starting salaries for all new grads entering fields such as financial services averaged $66,698, while those pursuing careers in social service typically made only $27,632.

So select your classes and internships wisely, because your technical focus and industry experience could make almost a 50 percent difference in your starting salary.

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