What is the Average Salary for College Graduates? - SCHOOLCONTENTS.info

What is the Average Salary for College Graduates?

As college education becomes increasingly important in today's competitive job market, many students and parents are curious about the potential financial benefits that come with earning a degree.

One crucial factor that often influences the decision to pursue higher education is the average salary for college graduates.

In this post, we will explore various reports, statistics, surveys, and website links to provide a comprehensive analysis of the average salary for college graduates.

Overview of Average Salary Trends

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the average starting salary for college graduates has been on a positive trajectory in recent years. In their 2022 report, the average starting salary for bachelor's degree graduates stood at $54,785, reflecting a 4.9% increase compared to the previous year (NACE Salary Survey, 2022).

However, salary trends are subject to change over time due to various factors such as economic conditions, industry growth, and regional variations. Additionally, it's essential to consider that salary averages can differ significantly depending on factors such as occupation, level of experience, education, and location.

1. Salary by Degree Level

Earnings vary based on the level of education attained. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides valuable insights into the average salaries for different degree levels. In 2020, individuals with a bachelor's degree had median weekly earnings of $1,305, while those with an associate degree earned $938 (BLS, 2021).

In a similar report, individuals with a master's degree earned a median weekly salary of $1,545 in 2020, while those with a bachelor's degree earned $1,248. Similarly, those with a professional degree, such as a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Juris Doctor (J.D.), earned higher median salaries. 

2. Field of Study and Salary Variation

The choice of major or field of study significantly impacts earning potential. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, in particular, tend to offer higher average salaries. 

A report by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce found that computer science and engineering majors had the highest median earnings among college graduates, with salaries exceeding $100,000 annually (Georgetown CEW, 2019).

3. Industry-Specific Salaries

Salaries also vary across different industries. Websites like Payscale.com and Glassdoor.com provide detailed information on industry-specific salary ranges, allowing college graduates to make informed decisions about their career paths.

For example, the financial services and technology sectors often offer higher salaries compared to the nonprofit or education sectors.

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4. Regional Differences in Salaries

Salaries can vary significantly depending on the geographical location. A survey conducted by NACE found that graduates who secured employment in metropolitan areas tended to earn higher salaries compared to those in non-metropolitan areas (NACE Salary Survey, 2022).

Factors such as cost of living, demand for specific skills, and local economic conditions contribute to these regional differences.

5. Impact of Work Experience

The level of work experience also plays a role in determining salaries for college graduates. NACE's 2022 survey revealed that graduates with internship experience received higher average starting salaries compared to those without internships (NACE Salary Survey, 2022).

Practical experience gained through internships and co-op programs often enhances graduates' marketability and earning potential.

The Survey found that internships correlated with higher average starting salaries, with students who completed an internship earning about $7,000 more than those without internship experience.


The average salary for college graduates varies based on several factors, including degree level, field of study, industry, location, and work experience. While overall salary trends show a positive trajectory, it is essential for students and parents to consider individual circumstances and make informed decisions regarding higher education and career choices. 

Researching reliable reports, statistics, surveys, and websites can provide valuable insights into the potential financial benefits of earning a college degree, helping individuals plan for a successful and rewarding career.


  1. NACE Salary Survey (2022). Retrieved from https://www.naceweb.org/job-market/compensation/
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
  3. Georgetown CEW (2019). A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges. Retrieved from https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/collegeroi/
  4. Payscale.com (2023). Retrieved from https://www.payscale.com/
  5. Glassdoor.com (2023). Retrieved from https://www.glassdoor.com

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