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Show Me the Money: Salary Expectations for Undergraduate Degrees

Tags:  College degree, Life after college

One of the biggest misconceptions about a college degree is that anyone earning one will walk out of college and automatically land a high paying job. While your chances of earning more than someone with only a high school diploma is greatly enhanced, there are several other factors that have to be taken into consideration when it comes to your earning power.

Geographic Location

Location, location, location. They tell you about the importance of location all the time when you're dealing with the real estate market. However, location can be equally important when it comes to your salary demands.

If you've graduated from college with a degree in marketing and you're looking for your first full-time position, understand that the salary you might earn in San Francisco is going to be significantly higher that what you might expect to earn in Albuquerque. The same is true for your salary in Boston versus Wichita.

Truth is that wherever you start your career and whatever field you choose, how much you earn will vary greatly depending on the geographic location. Employers in larger cities where the cost of living is higher will naturally have to pay more to attract and retain employees.

So as you set your sights on different opportunities, understand the important role that location has in the matter.

Supply and Demand

If you haven't taken a course in economics, now is the perfect time to learn about the basic principle of supply and demand. This merely says that when there is more supply and lower demand for something, the price will go lower in order to stimulate interest and sales. On the other hand when there is less supply and more demand, the higher the price will go as everyone scrambles to get it.

So the same could be true for new employees. And this is where location may not always result in a lower salary. For instance, if nurses decide to move away from smaller cities to take advantage of higher salaries at larger hospitals, smaller cities may have to increase starting salaries to attract more nurses to their healthcare facilities.

Area of Expertise

Another factor that may impact what your starting salary will be has to do with your area of expertise. Obviously there are just certain job categories or specialties that pay more because many employers are competing for the same group of candidates. This list of areas can change and fluctuate depending on many factors.

According to The Wall Street Journal, some of the hottest areas of expertise right now are Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX); civil, mechanical and project engineering; risk management; and health specialties such as radiology and geriatrics. Other career experts indicate a growing need for graduates with environment, international and information technology expertise.

What You Bring to the Table

The final contributing factor to what a new graduate may earn has a lot to do with them personally. If you have the right degree and experience along with great personal qualities like relationship building, communication, and organization skills, you are more likely to garner more interest from well-paying employers than someone who doesn't have the same level of motivation and abilities.

It's really all about having the right combination of background and experience and knowing how to market yourself. So before you go expecting the moon, be sure you have the goods that employers are seeking.










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