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  • Pandemic Limits Salary Gains for College Class of 2021

    BETHLEHEM, PA—The overall average salary for Class of 2021 college graduates who earned bachelor’s degrees is $55,911, which is 1.2% higher than the that for the Class of 2020 ($55,260), according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    “The fact that the increase in starting salary is small may simply be a case of timing as the Class of 2021 was still experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the job market,” says Shawn VanDerziel, NACE executive director.

    “Vaccines were not readily available to the public until early 2021, so the job market for new college graduates was not as robust as it currently is.”

    For example, NACE research shows that employers planned to hire 7.2% more graduates from the Class of 2021 than they did from the Class of 2020. Just one year later, the planned hiring increase for the Class of 2022 exceeded 30%.

    In terms of salaries for the Class of 2021’s categories of majors, computer and information sciences are the highest paid with an overall average salary of $81,202. However, this overall average starting salary is up by less than 1% compared to last year. (See Figure 1.)

    The overall average salary paid to engineering graduates moved in the opposite direction, as it fell from $72,115 to $71,516, for a drop of less than 1%. The remaining three fields—math and statistics, business, and health professions—show higher overall average starting salaries, ranging from 1.4% to almost 3%.

    Figure 1

    About NACE’s Summer 2022 Salary Survey Report: The Summer 2022 Salary Survey report provides actual starting salaries (not projections) for the college Class of 2021 and serves as the final salary report for the Class of 2021. The figures reported are for base salaries only and do not include bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, or overtime rates. Data were gathered from Class of 2021 graduates through December 31, 2021, and reported to NACE through May 13, 2022. The salary data presented here were reported to NACE through its national Class of 2021 First-Destination Survey by approximately 293 colleges and universities nationwide and represent data for almost 686,000 graduates at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree levels. Most of the analysis provided here, however, focuses on the data provided for more than 66,976 bachelor’s degree graduates. For information about how to purchase the Summer 2022 Salary Survey report, see

    About NACE: Established in 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) is the only professional association in the United States that connects more than 9,800 college career services professionals, more than 3,300 university relations and recruiting professionals, and more than 300 business solution providers that serve this community.

    NACE is the premier source of market research on career readiness and employment of recent college graduates. NACE forecasts hiring and trends in the job market; tracks salaries, recruiting and hiring practices, and student attitudes and outcomes; and identifies best practices and benchmarks.

    NACE offers its members unparalleled research, networking and professional development opportunities, guidance on standards and ethics, and advocacy on key issues. For more information, visit NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.