Starting Salaries

Most college students worry about how much they will make (how much they will be paid) at their first job after they graduate (complete their studies), what we would call their starting salaries.  As you already know, the answer to that question depends on what your major (field of study or concentration) is.

Recently, the website and the Wall Street Journal newspaper published a list of the average starting salaries for U.S. college graduates getting their first job after graduation.  The statistics (numbers; figures) are from the years 1999 to 2010.  From highest average salary to lowest, here is the list (note: dollar amounts are for one year’s salary or pay):

  • Engineering (all combined): $56,000
  • Computer Science: $50,000
  • Civil Engineering: $49.000
  • Accounting: $43,000
  • Economics: $42,000
  • Finance: $41,000
  • Biology: $38,000
  • Business: $38.000
  • Marketing: $37,000
  • Political Science: $36,000
  • Psychology: $35,000
  • Communications: $34,000
  • English (study of literature): $34,000

Remember that many graduates work in areas unrelated to their actual major in college.  An English major, for example, may get a job in sales, or an engineering major might get a job at a bank.  Not all majors are listed here, and these statistics are just for the beginning salaries.

What was my major?  My first degree was in history, which I finished in 1986 (well, sort of – it’s a long story!).  I don’t remember my exact salary for my first year of work, but the job was in the business office of a company that made clothing.  I’m sure it was less than $12,000 a year.  Adjusted for inflation (the change in the “price” or worth of money over time), today it would be about $24,000 (calculation done here).

It was a good thing (fortunately) I went back to school to study something else after that first job!


Photo credit for Columbia University (where President Obama graduated from): Wikipedia CC

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34 Responses to Starting Salaries

  1. Betty says:

    Hi Jeff, thank you very much for this very interesting topic.

    I always worry if children only have ‘rich and famous’ in their head in any stage of their studying life.

    But then how do you explain to children money is not the most important thing in life?

    How do you cope if your children do not have money from their parents or grandparents or public fundings to go to universities?

    The worst thing is, you do not have any money left after paying many years of education fees, and your children still cannot stand on their own feet after graduation from university.

    If you compare the starting salaries for US college graduates to some countries like China, it seems unthinkable how come same level of education end up receiving such huge difference in the amount of remuneration. But then some graduates in China could be living in a far better quality of life than some graduates in US because taxes are lower and in general things are cheaper in China.

    Money can come and go, only an education remains.

  2. Tania says:

    Hi! Houston, I’ve got a problem. I don’t know when I can fix it.

    I miss you.


  3. emiliano says:

    Incredible, what a lot of money to earn……..????

    But I think that´s theory or at least here it is.

    We promised our children that having a college graduate it would be possible for them to have a nice good salary
    and now they have nothing.

    More than forty per cent of youngs are without any job despite many of them have a college graduate tittle, and who is
    working it could be possible for them to earn one thousand euros by month of salary.
    Well, sometime a little more doing full time work.

    We call them “los mileuristas” (the a thousand-euros) and they are persons, young people, who have a good college graduate but despite so many studies, masters, promises and so forth……they only have such incredible salary, without hopes of increasing it.

    If I would be a young fellow with a good college graduate degree it´s sure I will be looking forward going to the beautiful city
    of Los Angeles, to have such a good salary and say hello to Jeff and Lucy.


  4. Peter says:

    Good afternoon Jeff,
    How are things with you
    Long time no cyber interaction :))
    Hate to break it to you guys,but the numbers listed here is all true if you are an English-speaking individual.In regard to some of this position ,specially positions that verbal cominication and presentations of any kinds are the main cog, non-native speakers have no chance of getting the position ,not high levels. It is the case mostly for business-related positions that requires a significant amount of phone-talk, and presentation.
    Let’s face it guys; no business wants to send out a guy like me with heavy accent to get the job does not contribute to the image of the company out there.
    On the opposite, most of the technical jobs like engineerings are all crowded by non-native speaker simply because communicating is not a factor there.

  5. Peter says:

    No matter how fluent you are the accent always drags you down.there is no frigging way you can get away with that.

  6. Peter says:

    Common guys
    Don’t get all carried away
    The figures above are indicative of nothing.
    Idealy they are right
    But the truth of the matter is we don’t live in Eutopia. those salary rates
    Are very far reach ,at least for new-comers like me. Canadian-education,and experience with a good working English command earn that salary,nothing else
    Let give u an instance : imagine another equivalent eslpod
    The quality,level everything
    But the people who write the transcripts or explain them don’t have British or American accent.they have say Iranian accent but everything else us the same
    Do u listen to Jeff with accent
    Or to that iranian guy with with Iranian accent.
    The same rule applies for finding jobs.

    Trust me on that
    Dont let your imagination runing away with you

  7. Peter says:

    Needless to say,Canada is a fit country.
    There is no sign of discrimination of anykind
    But accent is a problem
    And it is occupational hazard
    It is the same everywhere

  8. Betty says:

    Peter, that’s why I am trying to copy Jeff and Lucy’s accents. I copied some pronunciation from the internet and I was told I sounded like a robot.

    I was hoping Lucy can do something like the English Cafe so that we can follow how a lady say something instead just a man for us to copy – people will wonder why a lady sound so much like a man.

    I know Lucy speaks as the lady in the ESL postcast, but dialogues are different from prose reading or monologue.

    In fact I did wonder whether the ‘Starting Salaries’ statistics reflect the current situations for all US College Students, it could be true in 1999, but could be untrue in 2010. People in most part of the whole world have to tighten their belts in the current economic crisis, I am sure most US college students are no exception.

    What is the point of tell them the starting salaries are these, but the jobs are not there.

  9. Talal says:

    well, I completely disagree with you Peter about your second post, as far as i know , accent is not problem at all, I agree that some languages have heavy accent (as you described) but others are different, of course some of non-native English speakers have distinct accent and pronunciations but others dont have , for instance, my greek friends have American accent , some of them studied abroad in U.S and Australia since they were high school students, (truth be told) . but still , you cannot generalize this problem Peter .
    personally, I dont think that I have problem either.

  10. Talal says:

    hahahaha , I like the expression that you said Tania “Huston , we have gotta problem “

  11. Peter says:

    The beauty of checking Eslpos using iPhone is that you can write a comment
    Or read learning guide while listening to wither Jeff and Lucy. For example, right know I m listening to Lucy talking about the book she likes ” The Road.”
    for scapetism I go watching movies ,or glide on Eslpod.let me tell you Guys
    Lucy has a strong American accent.

  12. Peter says:

    Jeff I have a question for you
    Seems like every body Looks up to you.whom you look up to?

  13. Peter says:

    Hi All,
    Jeff I found your once-in-a-while explaination on grammatical points at the end of some of English caffes very useful.
    It totally cobtribute to the understanding of the words and their usage.
    The grametic explanation gives us a good idea of how to use them.
    My suggestion is : on every caffe allocate one segment for discussing just one gramatic point
    I mean replace them with one of the questions u answer
    It is way more helpful
    Guys back me up
    If u r with me on that

  14. Alvaro says:

    Interesting topic!
    I`ve always wondered how much you can get working in U.S related to what job you have. We have here in Brazil some data like that and also a month federal minimum wage that is about $ 300 dollars. Normally one person that has studied till get the highschool diploma earn that salary or a little more. If you work on your own, have passed on a public contest to work for goverment or have some degree you get more then that. I`m a teacher today and my starting salary is about $12.000 a year. We have also to consider how much we pay for things in general like food, rent, cars, clothes and so forth. I can say that I can pay for my regular bills, have my own house (of course paying my mortgage) my motorcycle and things like that. Is there a federal minimun wage in the U.S.? If so, how much is it?

  15. Peter says:

    Betty ,
    Hate to burst the bubble for u
    The pronunciation has nothing to do with accent. Two separate things
    Dont get them all mixed up
    Applying words with correct pronunciation just help people understand you better and faster.
    With right pronunciation, you just reduce the number of” whats” you get from the recieving end( person u r talking to) simply because they don’t understand of a word of what u r saying when you pronunc words totally off.
    If you get your pronunciation right , you just eliminate that problem. Sorry to say it , but it is close to impossible to adjust ur pronounciation while living in a country with no official Engilish language.
    You may get it right ,but the accent is still there.
    Trust me on that.
    I have been living here for 8 years, I finished university here, I worked here , I am attending a community college right now , besides , I have been working on lips and month movements for years my accent is still there. It is not strong,but it is still there. The only achievement I made is that nobody can spot my
    nationality from my accent
    I wanna add something else for the whole 8 years I just had native-speaker girlfriends . My accent still presents
    Your accent is a piece of your identity. Don’t fight it . Accept it and respect it.
    Trust me o strived to dropped it. No success still there up and running :))(
    Your voice box becomes brittle ( break easily) :)))) like that guy in terminator 3 he got freazed as a result he got brittle and with a bullet he shattered into
    Pieces :))(((((((

  16. emiliano says:

    Sorry Lucy, but here there is another good student, Betty, who wants you to read us some English Cafe……so I am not the only one that wish it or request you about doing it.

    Do you remember?
    I do, I´m still waiting for you….., yes I don´t forget nearly anything if I have in mind something or I am waiting for a good gift or expecting the best news.

    You know perfectly well Lucy that I do like (others too) very much listening to you doing some English Cafe instead of our dear Jeff who does everyone so good and so nice.
    Yes, we all know He is incredible good, nice, tender and He has a marvellous voice, what can I say about Him? He is the best, but you are the one too, and your accent is so perfect, a girl´s voice with a perfect american English, it would be great to have you
    reading for us some of you favorit scrips, doing it Jeff could rest a little from time to time…..

    Please, please, please…..think about it, again.
    Yes, I am very very stubborn, a wooden headed man.

    Betty, you are great I knew it from the moment I saw you here.
    All the best, emiliano

  17. Peter says:

    If you don’t leave in an English-speaking country ,you can’t spot any accent
    But,after living there just for one year
    You spot them all
    It is different,
    I know people who can’t speak English at all
    But,when they go back home everybody takes them as an speaker for a english based university.
    Simply ,because they have no clue

  18. Peter says:

    It is permissible ( allowed) to express your thoughts on the topic at hand.
    I just broke down the situation
    Don’t get all defensive please
    It is just the way I see it
    No mean to offend anybody
    It is called Thr freedom of speech , don’t you think!
    If you live in a speaking-English country get out of your comfort zoon( your community) ,and try to mingle with native-speaker and them you will see it is not as easy u think.

  19. Betty says:

    Hi, emiliano, thank you so much for helping everyone here asking Lucy to do some English Cafe for us.

    Lucy would find it very hard to say no to you. I can picture Lucy saying ‘alright’ to you when she read your persuasive request.

    But she has been writing all the scripts already and it must have taken her a lot of time and energy.

    What shall we do? Has Lucy got a twin sister who has got the same sweet voice as Lucy and can do some English Cafe for us?

    You are so keen to learn English, emiliano. I am indebted to you, my brain started working faster again since I read your encouragement to write here. Thank you again.

  20. Fayssal says:

    having a good English accent is a problem for some people, and it depends on the learner’s native language, for instance, we are especially in north Africa have no problem with any accent at all, being also Arabic speaker facilitate the pronunciation process and the Arabic language contains several letters that no other language has which enables us to use any accent, be it french or English or Spanish, if an Algerian or Tunisian or Moroccan speaks french with a french you won’t be able to draw the line between them.
    having a good accent is the key ingredient to jazz up the language……

  21. Fayssal says:

    Fruitful topic indeed

  22. Fayssal says:

    Among rich or well-to-do people, we can draw the line between those who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth and inherited huge sums of money, and those who by turning to account the advantages of the system in which they live, have pulled themselves up, have climbed the rungs of the social ladder and, eventually, made a fortune. There’s in the United states if memory serves me right, a cult of such self-made men, and at the turn of the century, there was a craze for the “rages to riches” stories (i.e stories of poor boys who managed to become very rich business tycoons). The examples of such men as Rockefeller, or Henry Ford and you name it, contributed to the development of the myth until the “muckrakers” denounced the seamy side of American society and the depression of the thirties put and end to unflagging confidence in the American capitalist system.

    well it’s a tad irrelevant but i hope my info are correct…

  23. Peter says:

    Tell mr that
    Who got a chance to become a news Ancher.
    I really wanted that
    I want to get into tv ,couldn’t
    Then radio again it was a big no
    All for the accent
    It is the way it is
    It isnot discrimination
    It is how it is
    U cant have a talk show unless u r a native speaker
    I am very understanding

  24. Peter says:

    I love the “nursery rhyme” ( the poem sung to children ( excerpted from The Learning Guide )). The Learning Guid 622,culture note part explains popular nurersry rhymes for little guys and girls.
    Lucy has embeded the one about girls on the 622
    But I like the one for little boys better
    The nursery rhyme goes like:
    What are little boys made of?
    What are little boys made of?
    Snakes and snails
    And puppy-dogs’ tale
    That is what little boys are made of!
    Like it

  25. Peter says:

    Learning guide is very useful for learning punctuation
    I had a report due two days ago
    I used all I leaned about punctuation exclusively from leaning Guid

    Very usefull

  26. Betty says:

    Hi, Peter, thank you for pointing out my misconception about English pronunciation and accent.

    You are right, pronunciation and accent are different things.

    You are much more advanced than me in speaking English, I am sure.

    There are lots of words that I do not know how to pronounce, and I did not have time and resources to try to learn the pronunciation last time. It is a very long story but it is true that a lot of people can read and write English to a very high standard but very weak in listening and speaking English. Many of us have been using English at work for many years without able to speak or understand it when people speak perfect Oxford Accent English at a normal speed to us.

    That’s why so many of us fall in love with Jeff and Lucy’s podcast when we discover they could help us improve our listening and speaking English.

    I likened myself to a deaf person learning English.

    Now with the internet, I have the chance to listen to how an English word sounds and I follow it. Although some people told me not to copy from them because I sound very weird, I know it is far better than not trying.

    Peter you are far luckier than a lot of us, you can speak fluent English and a lot of us cannot.

    We don’t need to rid ourselves of our accents, no one need to. When people want to understand you they will, and they will fall in love with your accent if they want to.

  27. Peter says:

    Some people call all the ongoing immigrants of people “foreign encroachment.”
    I just opened to u guys
    It is the way it is!
    Not all people, though
    But some believe, it is an ongoing process

  28. Peter says:

    I didn’t mean to discourage you on your attempt.
    As I said please don’t take it in the wrong way.
    I didn’t mean to pour out a torrent of abuse or irrational critic words.
    It is the way things work
    I m not saying I possess A perfect sense of English.
    I lived it Betty,I lived every bit of it.
    Take whatever you hear with a grain if salt that way u never get cold shoulder.
    What i am trying to get across here is: If one day you happened to be over here ,don’t get discourage or disapointed if things wouldnt live up to your expectation.
    Take all the news with grain of salt

  29. Farah says:

    Lucky you Jeff, but I work 8 hours a day as a staff in a company and I earn about 60 million Rials a year (equal 6000 dollars a year), without security of job. It’s very hard to live with this salary, because the rent of the apartments is really high and so are the expenses.
    Finding job is very difficult here and people like me have to put up with (tolerate) such this salary.

    Actually making money is very difficult these days, so most graduated people are working in other fields that are different to their majors to get money and here you can see a graduated who works as a taxi driver or a seller and so forth.
    Farah from Iran

  30. Talal says:

    I completely agree with Betty and Emiliano about having English cafes presented by our own Dr.Lucy .
    please Dr. Lucy !! think about it , of course if you have time , ok . if not , no problem at all .

  31. Betty says:

    Peter, problems of foreigner or immigrant in one country are a very complicated political matter. The depth of the topic could be a PhD project.

    I know what it’s like for a non-native English Speaker to try to find a good job after studying to a reasonably high level of education and simply unsuccessful in finding a dream job in an English Speaking country.

    Sorry Peter you may discover the generation gap between us, what you are feeling at the moment, I felt it all many years ago. I only want to enjoy learning some English when the chance is here now, not fighting any more, life is too short!

    It is hard for me to explain, but I know you are very determine to do well and you must be doing well (you have an iphone, I remember reading it last time. Many people my age do not have or simply will not dream of owning or bother to learn how to use an iphone).

    You are still very young and have all the future in front of you. You will be surprised one day when the opportunity comes and you find that your accent or your social background which gives you your accent actually adds to your advantage.

  32. Betty says:

    We will have hot tears running down our faces and our mouths simply cannot hide the happiness inside our hearts when one day Lucy starts giving us some English Café podcasts, even if it is only occasionally.

    We will be like the little children getting their first ice creams or Christmas presents.

  33. emiliano says:

    Betty, wonderful nice writing, thank you.
    I can´t understand how it could be difficult to you to speak a good English
    or just knowing what an english people is telling you aloud.
    You write very good English.

    To me it has been always so easy to say just what I know, without any care
    if I say it in good or bad English, I only spoke whichever occasion I had
    and tried to understand afterward, without translating to my own language.
    That´s all.
    If I didn´t uderstand to the English person, I said, please may you repeat?
    or try to speak slowly? that´s enough always.
    Yes, I know I am not a shy person, may be that is the real matter.
    Now I could remember that being in Benidorm alone, many year ago, I met
    Irish couples that were in Honey Moon here in Spain.
    We were in a bar, and they were taling aloud, I said sorry…may I speak a little
    with you? I am spaniard and try to learn some English….
    That was all, I spent all the 20 days of my hollidays with them, speaking
    English the full days, only English as I was alone.
    Good memories and good hollidays, try always not to be shy.
    It´s always a pleasure to talk with people from outside your own country, at
    least for me.
    Once I was in Prague with Cuca and two other friends and we met a couple
    from Israel, we were travelling to see “karlovy Vary” in a big car and have
    to do the trip with them.
    They didn´t speak a single word of Spanish, so as the girls were behind the car together,
    I have to seat with the couple from Israel and we were talking in English all the trip.
    It was really nice, also the driver who was Cech was talking with the couple and
    me……the girls, my wife and friends, were in silent……but I was bla, bla, bla.
    Sometimes we, the friends an Cuca remembered the trip, and said to me “you were speaking so much, it was incredible and tiresome” but
    I don´t care and we laugh together.
    It was really nice and I learnt lot of things about life and problems of Israel
    and Palestina country.

    The point is not be shy, try to speak always and don´t translate.

  34. Betty says:

    Thank you very much, emiliano, you are very kind.

    You are absolutely right, the main secret to learn to speak a new language is not to be shy. That’s why children pick up a language very fast, because they do not worry about being laughed at.

    Adults need a lot of courage to start speaking a foreign language. The world belongs to some people who have no fear in venturing out to a foreign land and communicate with the local people with a totally different language, you are one of those fearless people.

    Thank you again for your encouragement, I am happy that I now have the opportunity to learn from the internet and I am mastering my English much quicker with the help of the very kind ESLPOD team.

    Thank you again, emiliano, I will remember your words.

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