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Computer science salaries rise with demand for new graduates

Ann Bednarz | July 1, 2016
Competition for tech talent puts a high price on graduates with computer science degrees.


As scores of college graduates hit the job market this spring, their employment prospects are more promising than those of last year's graduating class. In particular, computer science graduates are a hot commodity.

"Not only does computer science provide every student foundational knowledge, it also leads to the highest-paying, fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. economy.

There are currently over 500,000 open computing jobs, in every sector, from manufacturing to banking, from agriculture to healthcare, but only 50,000 computer science graduates a year," reads an open letter released by the nonprofit Computer Science Education Coalition in partnership with The letter urges Congress to boost federal funding to broaden access to computer science in K-12 classrooms. 

"It is a fierce competition for new graduates. The huge monoliths out there, like Facebook or Google or LinkedIn, are scooping up, in particular, the developers, programmers and engineers. They're scooping them up left and right," says Jason Hayman, market research manager at IT staffing and service provider TEKsystems.

The situation is indicative of more widespread demand for talent at all levels, not just at the entry level. "IT unemployment is around 2.5%, and 80% of IT professionals are willing to listen to [offers for] new job opportunities, even when they're happily employed. So there's this huge talent gap, this huge supply-and-demand chasm out there, where you just can't get enough of the IT talent you're looking for," Hayman says.

With supply/demand conditions in their favor, many of today's computer science graduates are entering the workforce with high starting salaries and multiple offers of employment.

The overall average salary for bachelor's degree graduates earning computer science degrees is projected to be $61,321 this year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). That's the second-highest starting salary, behind only engineering graduates, who are projected to earn $64,891. Additionally, NACE reports that among the 2015 crop of new graduates, those majoring in computer science enjoyed thehighest full-time employment rate (76%) within six months of their graduation.

Similar findings are reported by PayScale, which ranked 319 college majors based on earning potential. Engineering, math, science and technology fields dominated the rankings in the College Salary Report, which provides the median starting pay and median mid-career pay for the alumni of more than 1,000 schools.

Specific to tech, six computer-related majors appear among the top 20 majors by salary potential. Among the six, the highest paying major is computer science and engineering, which yields a median starting salary of $69,100 and a mid-career median salary of $115,000. The other five compsci-related majors in PayScale's top 20 are: electrical and computer engineering ($67,000 starting salary and $114,000 mid-career salary); systems engineering ($67,000 starting salary and $114,000 mid-career salary); computer engineering ($68,400 starting salary and $109,000 mid-career salary); computer science and mathematics ($62,900 starting salary and $107,000 mid-career salary); and computer science ($63,100 starting salary and $105,000 mid-career salary).


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