Although the technology sector of the economy rises and falls on a series of booms and busts, computer programmers and computer science majors can expect to earn respectable salaries as soon as they graduate. More than acceptable salaries, actually: Computer science majors earn some of the highest entry-level salaries of any college major.
Average Starting Salary
Computer science majors fielded entry-level job offers with the fifth-highest starting salaries in the nation in 2009, according to CNN. The average starting salary for a graduate in any branch of computer science – programming, network administration, analytics – was $61,407. The average salary for all university graduates that year was $49,307, according to University Language. Industry and education analysts chalk up the gap in salaries to supply and demand: With only 4 percent of students graduating with a degree in computer science each year, about a quarter of the number with history degrees, employers must pay more for their services.
Starting Salaries for Top Programs
Students who graduate from elite computer science programs can expect even higher salaries for their skills. With Facebook’s growth helping the social networking site to rival Google’s online dominance, the two companies – and several smaller web firms – presented graduates from high-ranking programs such as Stanford University receive entry-level job offers that ranged from $92,000 to $95,000 as of 2008, according to Tech Crunch. A master’s degree from a top-tier program may translate into an entry-level salary of $130,000.
Average Career Salary
Despite the high initial salaries in the field, computer programmers typically enjoy salary growth as their career progresses. Computer programmers earn a median annual salary of $70,940 as of May 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while computer software engineers receive an average annual salary of $87,480. The highest-compensated 10 percent of workers in programming and software engineering earned more than $113,380 and $132,080, respectively. Graduates from highly rated programs may reasonably expect to earn salaries in the upper reaches of their industry by the end of their careers.
Comparison to Other Professional Salaries
Although no major comes close to the $83,121 starting salary CNN reported for petroleum engineering majors, computer science graduates’ salaries are typically much better than those many of their peers earn. Programmers typically earn more than biomedical engineers and construction managers, two other high-paying occupations, who receive $54,158 and $53,199 their first year out of college as of 2009, according to CNN. Computer science graduates earn nearly twice as much as graduates from a social work or elementary education program, both of which earn salaries in the $33,000 range as of 2009, according to CBS Moneywatch.