Accounting Grads Face Best Job Prospects in Years

College graduates with accounting degrees are entering the working world at a good time - recruiters are eager, jobs are plentiful and offers are attractive.

Four in five employers called the job market for new grads good, very good or excellent, according to a new survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Last year, fewer than two in five described the job market that way, the Associated Press reported.

Observers say graduates are facing the best prospects since the dot.com boom. The survey predicted college hiring will increase 13 percent over last year. Salaries are increasing as well, with seven out of 10 employers saying they will increase offers by 3.7 percent.

Accounting majors are expected to fare well. Demand for their services is way up because of new regulations spawned by corporate scandals such as Enron and WorldCom.

Recruiters from PriceWaterhouseCoopers plan to hire about 3,100 people off U.S. college campuses this year, up almost 19 percent from last year. Ernst & Young plans to hire 4,000 new graduates, increasing hiring about 30 percent this year, the AP reported. Jim Case, director of the career center at Cal State-Fullerton, says regional and local accounting firms are hiring, too.

Competition is such that recruiters are even demanding on-the-spot decisions on their offers.

Don Brezinski, executive director of corporate relations at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., said "We're seeing companies that, instead of looking to hire one or two, have openings of a dozen. It's when you have the big companies going really deep, then you know you're hitting stride with employment recovery."

Nursing and computer science jobs are also in demand. Experts say companies are hiring to handle new work but are also making up for years of holding back - and anticipating a wave of retirements.

Lee Svete, Notre Dame's director of career services, said, "We've seen employers that have cut back the last few years looking around the office saying, 'We've got this new work. Who's going to do the job?' "

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