New tech grads earn a lot more in industry than in government

Study shows the job market for computer science and engineering remains strong.

College students majoring in computer science and engineering face a better job market upon graduation than their peers in other fields, particularly when it comes to starting salaries, according to a new report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The January 2013 Salary Survey report found that computer science and computer engineering fields were among the 10 highest-paid at the bachelor’s degree level. Computer engineering was the highest paid major in 2012, with an average starting salary of $70,400. Computer science graduates earned average starting salaries of $64,400, placing third among bachelor’s degree graduates in 2012, NACE found.

Engineering careers dominated the top 10 list, capturing six of the top 10 spots for average salaries for bachelor’s degree holders. Other majors in the top 10 were chemical engineering ($66,400), aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering ($64,000), mechanical engineering ($62,900), electrical/electronics and communications engineering ($62,300) and civil engineering ($57,600).

Other top-paying fields were finance ($57,300), construction science/management ($56,600) and information sciences and systems ($56,100), NACE found.

“This is not surprising since the supply of these graduates is low, but the demand for them is so high,” said Marilyn Mackes, executive director for NACE.

While some studies have concluded that federal IT workers earn more than their private sector counterparts, it does not appear to be the case when it comes to young college graduates. For example, the starting base salary for a GS-7 Step 1 is $33,979. Keep in mind that this figure does not include locality pay or other incentives.

Can federal salaries effectively compete with the private sector for IT grads? How did/does the starting salary for your federal IT job stack up?