Talk Nerdy to Me: Accounting Grads in Demand

College grads with specialized degrees making more money in poor economy

By Tamer El-Ghobashy
|  Wednesday, Apr 8, 2009  |  Updated 10:15 PM CDT
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Talk Nerdy to Me: Accounting Grads in Demand

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College grads with specialized degrees in accounting and engineering stand to make more money in this anemic economy than their counterparts in previous years.

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As if the employment landscape isn't bleak enough for graduating college seniors, a new study shows that the traditionally nerdier professions are the only fields where they can expect to make more money than last year's class.

That's good news for engineering and accounting majors. Students who chose "cooler" specialties in liberal arts are out of luck -- they stand to make far less than graduates in previous years, if they can even find a job.

The study, conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, reports that the average salary offer for 2009 grads with undergraduate degrees is down $1,100 than in the same period last year, BusinessWeek.com reported.

Certain fields showed growth: Engineering majors can expect a 2.3 percent increase in starting salaries ($58,438). Accounting majors showed a 2 percent increase ($48,377). Business and management careers also posted gains.

"The projections for the future are that there will be continuing demand for the accounting majors," Richard White, undergraduate career services director at Rutgers University told BusinessWeek.com. "The engineering and technical sides seem to be doing fairly well."

Computer science jobs took the biggest hit with starting salaries dipping 11% from $65,379 to $58,837.

The anemic job market is also making internships harder to find, but better paid. Hoping to keep talent (on the cheap) until the economy improves, employers are paying interns 5 percent more on average.

"Employers are saying 'we don't have a lot of jobs but these [internship] programs are still really important to us and we still need to remain competitive,'" Camille Luckenbaugh, who conducted the NACE internship survey, told BusinessWeek.com. "'We can bump up the [internship] salaries a bit and maybe do something with benefits.'"

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