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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA grads recieve bigger salaries

According to a recent study by, you get what you pay for.

The study found that UA graduates, who pay the highest tuition out of the three state universities, had a higher starting salary.

Graduates made about $47,000 on average in 2009 and would make about $87,000 on average later in their careers.

According to Al Lee, Director of Quantitative Analysis for,”” is the leading online provider of employee compensation data in the world.”” He added that the site is “”the world’s largest database of individual compensation profiles (with) over 18.5 million unique user profiles.””

Susan Miller, senior coordinator for marketing and special events in career services at the UA said it is hard to get a good estimate of starting salaries for students.

“”We have always been challenged to get the starting salary data from students once they graduate. Grads are under no obligation to give us the data, and, though we do ask for it, a small percentage responds,”” Miller said.

Kitty McGrath, executive director of ASU Career Services mirrored that sentiment.

“”I have no reason to doubt that the salary data that was reported in PayScale’s survey reflected the information that they received … for the sake of argument, let’s assume that they didn’t fudge the numbers. The real question is whether PayScale’s response rate was high enough to be considered truly representative,”” she said.

McGarth says ASU has been able to collect information from about 35 to 40 percent of their graduates.

“”Would that be high enough to do cross-institutional comparison with a degree of confidence? Probably not. Trying to obtain data ‘later in their career’ is even more difficult. Response rates plummet even several months after graduation,”” she said.

To determine students’ starting salaries, McGarth says ASU surveys its graduates prior to graduation and asks them if they have accepted a position and what their salary will be.

Lee said that, for PayScale’s survey, there were thousands of respondents for large schools like the UA and Arizona State University.

Graduates from ASU had a starting salary of $46,000 on average and were making $83,000 on average later in their career, according to the study.

Northern Arizona University graduates had an average starting salary of $42,000 and were making an average of $72,000 later in their careers.

Sonia Gonzales, senior career and academic advisor for NAU, had no comment for the Arizona Daily Wildcat about starting salaries for graduates.

Lee cited the disparity in average starting incomes as a result of several factors.

“”Generally, the largest influences on pay is the mix of majors and the selectivity of the school,”” Lee said. “”For example, schools with large education programs tend to have lower earning alumni than universities with large engineering programs.””

An average offer for a UA grad is $41,000, according to a 2008 figure from UA Career Services.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers Salary Survey for fall 2008 showed that the national average salary offer for college grads was $43,334.

McGarth said the mix of academic majors at an institution dramatically affects the starting salaries and makes a comparison “”completely unreliable.””

There is no average that can be set in stone, but attending college is better than not.

“”Generally, the rate of investment in terms of future salary for in-state students at public universities is good; e.g., much better than investing the same amount of money (including forgone income during school) in the stock market,”” Lee said.’s 2010 study comes out in July.


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