The average starting salary for students graduating this year with a business major – including accounting – has declined slightly over the last year, according to the latest salary survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
Students graduating in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting can expect an average starting salary of $52,900, which is down 0.8 percent from $53,300 in 2013, Andrea Koncz, NACE employment information manager, told AccountingWEB. However, the latest salary figure is still substantially higher than the 2012 average of $49,700.
Business majors as a group this year will see an average starting salary of $53,901, which is 0.6 percent lower than the $54,234 reported in 2013, according to the April 2014 NACE Salary Survey, which details actual starting salaries for new college graduates as reported by employers.
Overall across all disciplines, the average starting salary for new college graduates earning bachelor’s degrees in 2014 is up 1.2 percent – from $44,928 last year to $45,473 this year.
Koncz said the slight decrease in accounting salaries is likely “due to the current market we are experiencing.” In the 10-plus years Koncz has worked at the NACE, she has rarely seen salaries drop significantly from year to year for that profession.
“[Accounting salaries] have steadily been on the rise; not with huge increases every year, but small-to-modest ones,” she added. “I believe even when the market was absolutely horrible, they rose slightly or stayed the same.”
But the decrease in starting salaries for business graduates as a whole does not surprise Koncz.
“Again, it seems typical of the market,” she noted. “And it’s most likely based on the positions that are reported for these graduates. They may be accepting lower-paying positions, which is driving the salary amount.”
According to the survey, average salaries for the class of 2014 dropped for nearly all business majors, except for business administration/management graduates, who saw their average salary rise less than 1 percent to $55,600, and marketing majors, who saw a large increase of 6.1 percent, bringing their average salary to $54,100.
The major with the highest average starting salary in 2014 is engineering at $62,719, up 0.3 percent from last year’s $62,535, followed by computer science at $61,741. Despite the decrease this year, business starting salaries ranked third-highest.
With a jump of 3.7 percent, health sciences garnered the highest average starting salary increase among the disciplines for the class of 2014 at $51,541, while humanities and social sciences ($38,365) and computer science trailed closely with gains of 3.5 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.
According to the 2014 Salary Guide: Accounting & Finance from staffing firm Robert Half, which was released in October 2013, starting salaries in the accounting and finance profession were projected to increase by 3.4 percent across the board this year, with financial and business analysts, internal auditors, and entry-level accountants among the positions that are most in demand.
About the survey:
The NACE Salary Survey reports starting salaries for new college graduates in more than 90 disciplines at the bachelor’s degree level. Data contained in the report are reported by employers, represent accepted starting salaries (not salary offers), and are produced through a compilation of data derived from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US Census Bureau, and a master set of data developed by Job Search Intelligence. Data for the April 2014 Salary Survey report were retrieved in February 2014. The Salary Survey is published in January, April, and September.