Survey: Electrical Engineers Are Top Earners Among Recent College Graduates

The highest average starting salary for recent college graduates went to electrical engineers with an average starting salary of $78,151, roughly an $8,000 increase from the previous year, according to the Troy-based ASE’s 2024 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey.
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Engineer at junction
The highest average starting salary for recent college graduates is for electrical engineers, according to ASE. // Stock photo

The highest average starting salary for recent college graduates went to electrical engineers with an average starting salary of $78,151, roughly an $8,000 increase from the previous year, according to the Troy-based ASE’s 2024 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey.

The annual survey provides a comprehensive look at the current state of wages and benefits provided to co-op students and recent college graduates. It also presents employers with a snapshot of the recruitment and retention trends associated with these new entrants to the workforce.

Other highlights of the ASE 2024 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey include:

  • About half of those surveyed (51 percent) have increased rates for Co-op/Intern students within the last year. This is an increase from last year, where 46 percent had increased wages for this segment of their workforce.
  • Slightly more than seven of 10 respondents (72 percent) say their company has hired a recent college graduate in the past year, or plans to in 2024, similar to what was reported in 2022 (73 percent).
  • The top five in-state institutions the responding companies actively recruit from are: 1) Michigan State University in East Lansing; 2) University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; 3) Oakland University in Rochester; 4) Kettering University in Flint; and 5) Wayne State University in Detroit.
  • The top three knowledge/skill factors organizations consider when making hiring decisions, in order, are: computer skills; related coursework (i.e., to the work required in the job); and degree level.
  • About 82 percent of respondents reported that they do notprovide benefits to co-ops/interns. Of the 18 percent of respondents that provide benefits to co-ops/interns, 20 percent provide medical coverage, 20 percent provide paid holidays, 20 percent provide paid sick or personal days and 20 percent provide tuition assistance.

“In an era of persistent labor demands, the present landscape offers a promising window for graduates,” says Mary E. Corrado, president of ASE. “Employers, driven by an unyielding need for skilled professionals, are actively seeking talent, especially in technical fields where we are witnessing robust wage growth.

“This trend, as highlighted in the ASE 2024 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey, not only underscores the favorable conditions for graduates but also emphasizes the dynamic nature of the workforce.”

A total of 124 organizations from across Michigan participated. Organizations with 100 employees or less nationally made up approximately 39 percent of the survey sample, while organizations with 101-499 employees nationally represented roughly 38 percent of the sample. The remaining 23 percent of the sample came from organizations with more than 500 employees.

A variety of industries have been represented in the survey, with durable goods manufacturing (47.6 percent) leading the pack. Trades and Services (25.8 percent) were the second-largest industry representation.

This survey is available at no cost to ASE Members via the ASE Survey Library. It is available for $415 for non-member participants and for $825 for non-member non-participants.  Request to purchase here.