Lucrative college degrees
Some majors are raking in big increases in starting salaries. But the initial offers on others haven't kept pace with inflation.
By Jeanne Sahadi, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- The Class of 2006 continues to enjoy the strongest job market in five years. And in many disciplines, the starting salaries are proof that entry-level grads are in greater demand.

"Employers expected to face more competition for new college graduates this year, and that competition is translating into higher starting salaries," said Camille Luckenbaugh, research director for the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in a statement announcing NACE's latest quarterly salary survey.

According to that survey, majors that have seen some of the biggest increases in average starting salaries are:

Hospitality services management: Up 9.7 percent to $36,480

Business administration/management: Up 6.3 percent to $42,048, thanks to investment banks that were paying an average of $53,277

Accounting: Up 5.5 percent to $45,656

Economics/finance: Up 5.1 percent to $45,112, again thanks to a high number of offers from investment banks and also financial services companies.

Information sciences and systems: Up 8.5 percent to $48,593

Civil engineering: Up 5.4 percent to $46,023

Chemical engineering: Up 4.7 percent to $56,335, thanks to a large number of starting offers averaging $58,456 from petroleum and coal products manufacturers. Those manufacturers may also be responsible for the 12.3 percent jump in the starting salaries of those who majored in geology and related sciences. They are earning an average of $44,191.

More modest pay increases for others

Other majors also experienced higher entry-level paychecks, but the increases didn't outpace the 4.2 percent inflation over the past 12 months through May. And in a few cases, starting offers actually declined.

These two groups include:

Computer engineering: Up 2.3 percent to $53,651

Electrical engineering: Up 3.2 percent to $53,552

Mechanical engineering: Up 3 percent to $51,732

History: Up 3.1 percent to $32,697

Psychology: Up 1.2 percent to $30,218

Communications: Down 0.4 percent to $31,876

Political science and government: Down 2.6 percent to $32,665

Sociology: Down 2.7 percent to $30,944

English: Down 4.1 percent to $30,906


Top 50: Most entry-level jobs for grads

Student loans: A life sentence

The first-time homebuyer squeeze

Where the (best) 6-figure jobs are Top of page

Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
Manage alerts | What is this?