Andrea Koncz, ext. 121
Kevin Gray, ext. 139, 610.868.1421
January 28, 2021
Starting Salary Projections Show Increases for Class of 2021 Graduates
BETHLEHEM, PA—Early projections show that the average starting salaries for Class of 2021 graduates earning bachelor’s degrees are expected to increase, according to a new research report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
In addition, the results of NACE’s Winter 2021 Salary Survey point to the relative inequality in the labor market. While college graduates see a somewhat favorable job market, that is not the case for those without degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, the overall unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 5.1%. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for high school graduates with no college degree was 10.2% and the rate for those with some college, but no degree was 8.8%.
NACE’s Winter 2021 Salary Survey found that, while some of the projected increases for Class of 2021 graduates are on the smaller side, those for graduates in the computer sciences field are an exception. The average salary projection for these graduates is $72,173, which is a climb of 7.1% from last year’s projection of $67,411 for the Class of 2020. (See Figure 1.)
All three of the individual reported computer sciences majors—computer science (7.1%), information sciences and systems (7.1%), and software applications (6.8%)—reflect similar increases.
It is important to note that, although all categories are projected to see increases in their salaries, not all majors within the category are expected to do so. For example, the overall average salary for math and sciences majors is expected to increase 1.3% to $63,316. However, chemistry majors, who fall into this category, are projected to see their average salary drop 3% to $59,625, while math majors are expected to average $67,360—a 4.5% increase.
In addition, in some cases, projected increases look high, but are based on limited data. Such is the case with social sciences degrees and humanities degrees, and the projected increases should be viewed with caution.
Figure 1: Average salaries by discipline, bachelor’s degrees
About the Winter 2021 Salary Survey: The Winter 2021 Salary Survey report features annual salary projections for Class of 2021 college graduates. The figures reported are for base salaries only and do not include bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, or overtime rates. The report provides the detailed salary projections by academic major and degree level, along with breakouts by both industry and geographic region. Data contained in the Winter 2021 Salary Survey report were obtained by surveying NACE employer members from September 14, 2020, through November 30, 2020. A total of 139 surveys were returned—a 14.9 percent response rate. An executive summary of the Winter 2021 Salary Survey is available for free through NACE.
About NACE: Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. For more information, visit www.naceweb.org. NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.