Average Starting Salary for New College Graduates is Just Over $50K

The bad news: You’ve incurred a big debt from your college loans. The good news: If you graduated from college this year, the job market is as healthy as it’s been in years.

A new study from global consulting firm, Korn Ferry, 2018 college grads in the United States will make on average $50,390 annually. That is 2.8 percent more than the 2017 average ($49,000). In the study, researchers analyzed salaries of 310,000 entry-level positions from nearly 1,000 organizations across the United States.



“With the 2018 U.S. inflation rate hovering just over 2 percent, real wages for this year’s grads are virtually flat,” said Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner Maryam Morse. “However, with competition for top graduate talent so fierce, it’s critical that companies pay competitively, create an engaging culture and provide clear paths for advancement.”

There are definitely salary differences depending in whic major U.S. city you’ll be focusing your job search.

The study includes an analysis of average college graduate salaries in 10 major cities across the United States. The average salaries by city (in alphabetical order) are:

  • Atlanta $49,584
  • Boston $59,460
  • Chicago $55,177
  • Dallas $50,743
  • Denver $53,010
  • Los Angeles $56,386
  • Minneapolis $53,766
  • New York $60,972
  • Philadelphia $54,169
  • San Francisco $63,995

“Graduates should keep in mind that averages can mask variations. For example, within STEM-related careers there are some specialized areas that pay significantly more than average,” said Morse. “Job seekers must still do their homework to understand fair pay for their location and area of expertise.”

Snapshot of College Entry Roles

Here is a sample of 10 careers and corresponding average wages from the Korn Ferry analysis (in alphabetical order):

  • Accountant $48,000
  • Call Center Specialist $42,224
  • Claims Examiner $39,978
  • Customer Service Rep. $35,360
  • Engineer $64,066
  • Graphic Designer $47,480
  • Insurance Underwriter $51,578
  • Registered Nurse $54,454
  • Scientist/Researcher $60,177
  • Software Developer $67,236

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