The Average Starting Salary of a College Graduate

Starting salaries for college graduates were down slightly in 2010 from the previous year.

Average starting salaries for college graduates were slightly down overall for 2010 graduates compared to those who finished their undergraduate degrees in 2009. Seven of the 10 highest-earning majors were engineering disciplines.

1 Average Starting Salary

College graduates with bachelor's degrees had an average starting salary of $48,288 in 2010, according to the fall 2010 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. This compared with an average starting salary of $48,633 for the class of 2009.

2 Top-Earning Majors

Petroleum engineering was the college major with the highest starting salary, according to the PayScale 2010-11 College Salary Report. Graduates with this bachelor's degree earned a median starting salary of $93,000. The other 10 highest-earning majors were aerospace engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, nuclear engineering, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, physics, computer engineering and economics, which all had starting salaries of more than $48,000.

3 Lowest-Earning Majors

Child and family studies was the lowest-earning college major, the PayScale College Salary Report showed, with a median starting salary of $29,500. The other majors in the bottom 10 were special education, recreation and leisure studies, theology, paralegal studies/law, horticulture, culinary arts, athletic training, social work and elementary education. These majors had median starting salaries of $36,000 or less per year.

A professional writer since 1997, Ian Graham has created educational guidebooks, English as a second language learning tools and interesting facts for the Web. He graduated from the University of Victoria's Department of Writing and currently works as a reporter and photographer for a twice-weekly newspaper north of the 55th parallel.