Posted by: Geoff Gloeckler on July 1, 2010
Starting salaries continue to fall for college graduates in many of the top hiring fields. But there’s a nugget of good news for business undergrads: accounting and finance students are among the most sought-after by employers, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) Summer 2010 Salary Survey.
The NACE study, based on more than 9,000 job offers reported by 108 U.S. colleges and universities, found that accounting services companies offered the most jobs to 2010 bachelor’s degree graduates, followed by engineering and financial services companies.
Engineers commanded the highest salary offers, averaging $56,367, followed by accounting at $50,402, and financial services at $49,703. But of those sectors, only accountants received higher average starting salary offers this year than in 2009. This isn’t surprising to Amy Thompson, director of campus recruiting at accounting and financial services provider PricewaterhouseCoopers. “We have a solid book of business that exists kind of regardless of economic situation,” she says. PwC hired slightly fewer graduates during the downturn, but expects to increase hiring in 2011, primarily of students with bachelor’s degrees in accounting, Thompson says.
Thompson also notes that PwC may see more business from the financial sector due to the financial regulatory bill passed by the House of Representatives yesterday. “We see potentially increased work, which translates into potentially increased hiring,” she says.
Ernst & Young expects to increase hiring from colleges in 2011, as well, according to Dan Black, Americas director of campus recruiting for the professional services firm. The company typically hires accounting bachelor’s and masters graduates. Ernst & Young and KPMG have both hired about the same number of students this year as last year, company officials say.
In the financial services sector, typical starting salary offers are down nearly $1,500, says Andrea Koncz, employment information manager at NACE. A year ago, the average starting salary offered by financial services firms was $51,190. New grads were offered salaries near the national median for workers of all experience levels with bachelor’s degrees, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Employers favored 2010 bachelor’s degree graduates with job-oriented courses of study, according to the NACE report. Accounting service firms mostly sought to hire accounting majors, while finance companies made the bulk of their offers to finance and accounting majors.
Salary news was mixed for the class of 2010 in other fields. The average salary offered by retail and wholesale employers to recent bachelor’s degree graduates increased about $300 to $41,678. Educational services, the sector hiring the fifth most students, saw the greatest drop in average salary offers. Teachers and other entry-level educational services workers saw the average offer drop more than $1,500 to $33,682.
-By Zachary Tracer