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Best entry-level salaries for new grads

  • Story Highlights
  • Average starting salary offer is 4 percent higher for 2008 grads than last year
  • Additionally, hiring is expected to increase by 8 percent
  • Among the most prolific fields: economics, nursing, and chemistry
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Rachel Zupek
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Besides the impending summer and a new diploma, this year's graduates have something else to smile about come commencement day: bigger starting salaries when they enter the work force.

The average starting salary offer is 4 percent higher for 2008 graduates than last year's alumni.

The average starting salary offer is 4 percent higher for 2008 graduates than last year's alumni, according to a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Additionally, hiring is expected to increase by 8 percent.

"Employers are showing interest in graduates from all sectors," says Nathan Lippe, senior career adviser for "But, they're also seeing extra competition in certain fields. As a new graduate, your best bet is to research your industry and know what you're worth to get the most out of new job and salary prospects."

Engineering services and accounting firms are among the disciplines expressing the most interest in this year's batch of graduates, according to NACE.

Consulting, financial services, retail and petroleum companies are also looking for new hires. As a result, many of these industries offer sizeable salary offers to new graduates.

Salary increases range from less than 1 percent to as high as 9 percent for some disciplines. Among those who will experience the highest increases are those with liberal arts degrees, whose average offer is up 9 percent at $33,258.

Graduates with technical degrees, such as computer science majors, saw their average offers rise 7.9 percent to $56,921. Marketing graduates saw a 5.2 percent increase, bringing their average offers to $43,459.

Collectively, engineering graduates enjoyed a 5.7 percent boost, with average offers of $56,336. Specialized majors saw even higher increases: Chemical engineering grads' average offers rose 6.2 percent to $63,749.

Civil engineering grads experienced a 4.8 percent rise to $49,427; 3.5 percent for electrical engineering majors at $56,512; and mechanical engineering grads saw the smallest increase of 3.4 percent, bringing their average offers up to $56,429.

Offer amounts are up 1.9 percent for finance and accounting graduates, to $48,795 and $47,413, respectively. Salary offers for business administration and management graduates rose by less than 1 percent to $43,823.

Here are 10 other starting salaries for 2008 graduates:

Economics - $52,926

Career options for economics majors vary from private consulting for businesses to working for government agencies.

Nursing - $52,129

Nursing majors can find job opportunities in hospitals, clinics, doctor offices and other medical facilities.

Chemistry - $52,125

Chemists can find work in laboratories, pharmaceuticals, chemical manufacturing or research and development -- to name a few.

Political science/government - $43,594

Political science and government graduates have the option of working in the state, local or federal governments, as well as private sectors or non-profit organizations.

Human resources - $40,250

Human resources majors work as HR assistants, payroll or benefits coordinators, and in diversity training.

History - $35, 956

A degree in history (aka liberal arts) means you can be an educator, researcher, communicator or editor, information manager, advocate or even a businessperson.

Communications - $35,196

Communications has much of the same focus as public relations, advertising, journalism, marketing and business management. The skills you learn in this major are transferable to many areas.

English language and literature - $34,757

English majors typically work in education, but other traditional fields of work include writing and editing for newspapers and publishing firms, public relations and broadcasting, or technical writing for advanced industries.

Journalism - $32,250

Journalism majors will find successful careers in print, broadcast or radio journalism, as well as opportunities in media relations.

Psychology - $30,877

Psychology graduates can put their degree to use in the mental or social services sectors, as well as in business or education.

Public relations/organizational communications - $30, 667

Careers in public relations vary from orchestrating the PR for large, small or non-profit organizations; writing the communications for companies or even working in advertising. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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