Technical Degrees Still Draw Highest Salaries

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Though the technology sector has recently taken an economic downturn, the latest New York Times Job Market (NYTJM) survey reports that students graduating with technical degrees are typically offered the highest starting salaries compared to their peers holding other degrees. In order to identify current trends in on-campus recruiting, Beta Research Corp. on behalf of NYTJM interviewed more than 450 hiring managers and job seekers in the New York metropolitan region.

Students holding both undergraduate and graduate technical degrees are offered the highest starting salaries, $38,000-$52,000 and $55,000-$78,000, respectively.

Although graduates holding technical degrees command the highest starting salaries, hiring managers in the New York metropolitan region said they also are likely to recruit undergraduate students with degrees in business, liberal arts, technical disciplines, and communications. Among graduate students, hiring managers said they are likely to recruit those with M.B.A. degrees and M.A./M.S. degrees.

But simply having a specific degree does not guarantee a job, according to the hiring managers polled. There are certain key attributes that job seekers need to possess. Topping the list in importance when hiring undergraduate students is "demonstrating strong ethics," followed by "ability to multi-task" and "ability to work well in teams."

More than half of hiring managers also cited the importance of "being a strategic thinker" and "willingness to do 'grunt' work." When recruiting graduate students, hiring managers say they seek functional work experience or specific industry work experience and regard such experience as an extremely/very important attribute in the graduate students they hire.

According to the study, to become better job candidates in today's competitive employment market, hiring managers say students should take advantage of on-campus courses, activities or programs such as internships, leadership roles in extracurricular activities, work/study and research in fields of interest.

When asked what the most important behaviors job seekers should portray during interviews, hiring managers cited, in order of importance, having a positive attitude, dressing and appearing professional, making eye contact, displaying effective communication skills and displaying confidence in their abilities.

The study confirms that the goals of college students are in line with the needs and desires of the tech sector. According to the survey results, job seekers continue to believe that enrollment in a business program will help them secure good jobs. Nearly two in five job seekers interviewed think that recruiters are most likely to hire candidates with a business degree. A business program is a top choice among current students and among those who plan to enroll at a college/university during the next year.

Job seekers also remain optimistic about companies' demand for employees with technical backgrounds. Nearly one-fourth of job seekers surveyed think that hiring managers will be most likely to hire someone with a technical degree. A technical degree is a second choice, behind business, among those currently enrolled or who plan to enroll at a college/university during the next year.

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