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STEM graduates can earn starting salaries nearly 20 percent higher than peers – study

Graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) are paid almost 20 percent more in their first jobs compared to those in other fields, said the Korn Ferry Hay Group. 

Based on an analysis of the salaries offered for 42,500 entry-level positions at more than 770 organisations across the UK, university graduates can expect to earn £26,023 (US$34,133) in their first full-time job, but those starting a career in STEM fields are likely to see better offers – those looking at roles in software development or engineering saw an increase in starting salaries by 19 percent to £30,973 (US$40,640) and 17 percent to £30,370 (US$39,842) respectively, making them the highest paid entry roles in the country. 

Trevor Warden, the head of rewards and benefits solutions for the Korn Ferry Hay Group in Australia, told Australian Financial Review: “For example, an entry-level engineer in the United Kingdom can expect to make 13 percent above the UK national average, and an entry-level engineer in France can make 14 percent above that country’s national average.”

Other top-dollar jobs are those in environment, health and safety (which earn 13 percent above the average); followed by engineering (11 percent above).

Graduates earning less than the average are usually those working in customer service (23 percent below the average salary), and at call centers (20 percent below).

Meanwhile, graduates in computer sciences can also expect to get higher salaries, thanks to increased demand from the industry.

In an open letter published by the Computer Science Education Coalition, “there are currently over 500,000 open computing jobs, in every sector, from manufacturing to banking, from agriculture to healthcare, but only 50,000 computer science graduates a year” in the U.S., causing a major talent gap.

Speaking to MIS Asia, an IT management magazine, market research manager Jason Hayman said there is “fierce competition” for new graduates.

“The huge monoliths out there, like Facebook or Google or LinkedIn, are scooping up, in particular, the developers, programmers and engineers. They’re scooping them up left and right,” he said.

But it’s not only fresh grads who are benefiting: due to high-scale demand at all employment levels, some “80 percent of IT professionals are willing to listen to [offers for] new job opportunities, even when they’re happily employed,” added Hayman.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the average salary for graduates holding Bachelor’s degrees in computer science is projected to be US$61,321 this year, making it the second-highest starting salary.

NACE also reported that among those who graduated in 2015, computer science majors had the highest full-time employment rate within six months of graduation, at 76 percent.

However, this doesn’t mean that tech graduates should sit around expecting the best offers to fall into their laps, as they still need to prove their skill and mettle to employers, advised technical recruiting manager Stephen Zafarino.

“There are few positions that are true entry-level positions,” he said, as many entry-level jobs still ask for some level of experience.

But coming from a program with a proven track-record for producing top-grade graduates does help: “If you come from a good program, people are more willing to take a chance, expecting that you’re going to be able to perform,” added Zafarino.

Besides that, having practical experience gained from internships or freelancing is an advantage. For example, students can tangibly showcase their abilities to potential employers through GitHub, an online Git repository hosting service.

“Though you may not have the work experience, you have created something that people can see, and it’s proof of what you can do and what you have done,” said Zafarino.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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