Positive Career Outlook for Tech and Business Grads, According to NACE

Posted By Donna Fuscaldo on February 3, 2016 at 9:25 am
Positive Career Outlook for Tech and Business Grads, According to NACE

Thank the improving economy or booming job market, but either way, college graduates will be sought after this spring. While no one is predicting that every person graduating college will get a job right out of the gate, those with technology and business skills will be in high demand.

“When the economy is doing better everyone does better,” says Mimi Collins, Director of Content Strategy at the National Association of Colleges and Employers. “Individual skills and qualifications play a very significant role” in getting hired.

Late last year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers came out with its 2016 job outlook for college graduates. The organization found that among its surveyed members, employers are looking to hire business, engineering and information sciences graduates. In fact, of the respondents, 70 percent said they plan to hire business college graduates, while 66.7 percent are focusing on engineering students and 57.8 percent are looking to hire computer and information sciences graduates.

STEM graduates should see higher starting salaries

That’s not the only data point that signals strong demand for certain college graduates this upcoming spring. According to Robert Half International, the Menlo Park, Calif. staffing company, not only are companies looking for new technology, finance and creative hires – they also are willing to pay more for them.  Robert Half is forecasting salaries for technology professionals to increase by 5.3 percent in 2016, with finance and accounting a close second with 4.7 percent growth. Creative and marketing and administrative and office support jobs are expected to see a 3.8 percent increase in salaries.

Meanwhile, the National Association of College and Employers expects 2016 STEM graduates to command the highest starting salaries of all graduates with a bachelor’s degree. According to its winter 2016 Salary Survey report, graduates with a bachelor’s degree in engineering can expect to earn an average starting salary of  $64,891, up 3 percent from a year ago. Computer science graduates can expect a starting salary of $61,321, while information science and systems graduates should expect an average starting salary of $59,810.   Math and science degree holders should earn around $55,000 starting out, while business majors can expect a starting average salary of $52,236, up from $51,508 last year. One of the reasons technology professionals are enjoying the biggest uptick in salary is because demand for skilled talent outweighs supply in several areas, including mobile, big data, compliance and security, according to Robert Half.

“During the recession, companies could get more qualified people to do more entry level jobs,” says Kathy Downs, a vice president at Robert Half Finance & Accounting. “As soon as the economy turned around,  those qualified people got jobs paying what their market worth was.” According to Downs, in the current environment, where job unemployment is hovering at 5.5 percent and talent wars are breaking out for sought-after skills, employers are especially attracted to college graduates. While they have to make a little investment in terms of training, in return they get enthusiasm, high energy and someone with the most current skills.

Opportunities abound in all types of business and tech jobs

So – where can 2016 business and finance majors land a job upon graduation? According to Robert Half, companies are looking for managers, business analysts, business system analysts, financial analysts, information technology and internal auditors and payroll professionals.  Some of the skills employers areas require in those areas include advanced Excel skills, ERP experience, expertise in data analytics, knowledge of business intelligence software and project management skills, to name a few. In technology, graduates can expect to work as application or database developers, business analysts,  quality assurance analysts, systems engineers, system administrators, data administrators, help desk support and network engineers. Some necessary skills include ASP, C#, Java, .NET, PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails, virtualization and Windows 7 proficiency.

While all boats rise in a good economy, who companies will hire is still a very individual decision. That’s why good grades, leadership and soft skills like the ability to communicate matter a lot. It’s also important for graduates to keep an open mind about their job prospects and consider getting in at a good company – even if it’s at the bottom ring. Take Kathy Downs’ son as an example.  When he graduated from Auburn University with an accounting degree, he still didn’t possess the required skills to land a job. Instead of applying for jobs he wasn’t qualified, for he took a temporary position as an accounts payable clerk. Sixty days later, he was hired for a financial reporting role because the company was able to see his Excel skills, his worth ethic and understanding of accounting. “Graduates aren’t always going to walk into the perfect job,” says Downs. “But they may walk into the perfect company.”

Donna Fuscaldo
Donna Fuscaldo is a freelance journalist hailing out of Long Island, New York. She has also written for Bankrate.com, Glassdoor.com, SigFig.com, FoxBusiness.com, Business Insider, Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal.

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