Computer Science Graduate Pay is Higher Than You Think

A new study shows computer science graduates have low expectations for what they should earn fresh out of school; meanwhile, most other degree holders feel they should be earning a lot more than they actually receive. That’s something to take into account if you’re hiring for junior roles within your organization.

Clever, a platform connecting home buyers and sellers, recently examined PayScale’s College Salary Report alongside a different study on salary expectations from LendEDU, then compared both to discern where graduates may be out of line when it comes to earnings expectations. When encompassing all majors, the average salary expectation out of school is $57,964. The average earnings in a first post-graduation job is $47,000.

Some degree holders are way off. “Physical or Life Sciences” degree holders exepct to earn nearly $65,000… but actually receive about $51,000. Communications/journalism majors want nearly $52,000 in their first job, and receive a full $10,000 less. Business Degree holders think they’re worth about $61,000, and earn roughly $46,500.

Yet most graduates expect to earn more than they do. Some are pretty grounded. Engineering degree holders expect about $64,615, and earn about $64,200. Those with Humanities/Liberal Arts/English/History degrees think their first job should pay $43,843, and those jobs pay about $43,860.

Only two disciplines earn more than many respondents expect: nursing and computer science. Those with nursing degrees are close (they expect to make $62,417 their first year, and get $66,600), while computer acience degree holders are way off. Graduates with CS degrees think they should make $59,303, but earn $68,800, on average.

There is another interesting takeaway: Computer Science degrees offer the highest paying initial salary on this list. Engineering is close, and Nursing is closer, but CS graduates earn the most money in their first job.

These graduates also have one of the largest gaps between expectation and reality. We’re not sure if this means computer science graduates are just unaware of what tech companies pay, or if they just haven’t really considered what they want to make in their first job. Interestingly, Clever’s data also shows that, as students work through their four-year degree programs, earnings expectations drop. By the time they’re in their senior year of college, students have lowered their annual earnings expectations by nearly $4,000.

For recruiters and hiring managers, this gap between expectations and actual pay, particularly in the case of CS majors, is something to consider. CS majors competing for junior roles might be pleasantly surprised by the initially salary offered, and less likely to negotiate for something higher. They may also prove more amenable to certain perks and benefits than older workers, even if their base pay is low.