Laura Morsch, CareerBuilder.com writer
Thanks to an improving economy and healthy nationwide job creation, things are looking promising for the class of 2006.
“It’s a great time to be a senior at a good college,” said Lauren Shapiro, director of recruiting at Archstone Consulting, a Stamford, Conn.-based strategic and operations consulting firm. “They feel very recruited these days.”
Seventy percent of hiring managers say they plan to recruit recent college graduates in 2006, and one-in-four expect to hire more new grads than last year, according to CareerBuilder.com’s annual survey on college hiring.
While the job market is generally favorable, certain occupations are particularly new grad-friendly. In its 2006 spring salary survey, the National Association of Colleges and Employers ranked the top jobs for 2005-06 bachelor’s degree graduates by the number of job offers reported. The following, listed with their average starting salaries, topped the heap:
Accounting (private) — $45,817
Businesses are scrambling to expand their accounting departments to deal with new pressures from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and global expansion, said Blane Ruschak, national director of university relations at Big Four accounting firm KPMG. Young accountants are cashing in on these new jobs.
Although most companies prefer to hire candidates with accounting degrees, recruiters also look at business, finance, economics and even liberal arts grads to fill their staffs, Ruschak said.
Management Trainee — $38,482
Management trainee programs are intensive “boot camps” through which new graduates can learn about all facets of the organization, said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.com. This gives new hires from all educational backgrounds the benefit of shadowing others and getting more personalized training.
Employers use management trainee programs because they “…usually include tests throughout the experience … which disciplines the trainee to learn the ropes and not just punch the clock, and allows the organization quicker insight into whether they can mold the trainee into a successful employee,” Haefner said.
Financial/Treasury Analysis — $46,335
Financial analysts help banks, insurance companies, mutual and pension funds, securities firms and other businesses make investment decisions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To get hired, candidates need stellar math skills — therefore, business, economics, finance and mathematics majors will find themselves especially in-demand. Once hired, financial analysts should expect long hours, but many earn large bonuses that substantially increase their earnings.
Sales — $38,830
New graduates make excellent salespeople because they’re high energy, driven to success and undaunted by rejection. They also save their employers training time, Haefner said.
Whereas new graduates are eager to learn, “Experienced salespeople tend to bring their own sales methodologies to a new position, and companies are faced with the added step of working with the salesperson to ‘unlearn’ their previous techniques so they can adopt their new employer’s approach.”
Students hoping to start a career in sales should get involved on campus and use their résumés to demonstrate how they’ve used the traits of a successful salesperson in their everyday lives — for example balancing school and work or playing competitive sports, Haefner explained.
Project Engineering — $50,365
Globalization is translating into more job opportunities for engineering graduates, said Karen Clark, who leads the engineering recruitment effort for Washington Group International, a leading integrated engineering, construction and management solutions company.
“The engineering fields are in-demand now because of the multitude of projects to help improve living conditions throughout the world,” she said.
Project engineering — a job that hires across all engineering disciplines — is no exception. These workers are responsible for planning, scheduling, estimating the cost, labor and performance of engineering activities and other duties at their particular projects.
Consulting — $50,120
The consulting market is bouncing back to levels not seen since 1999 or 2000, and that’s translating into more opportunities for new graduates at both the bachelor’s and MBA levels, Archstone Consulting’s Lauren Shapiro said. New graduates are raw talent, she said. “We know we can mold them.”
Consulting isn’t just for those with an economics or business degree, Shapiro said. Her firm also recruits liberal arts majors, because “that wide-ranging education gives a very good skills set.” To get hired in consulting, research is key, she says. Candidates should be well-versed on the company, their job function and the industry.
Design/Construction Engineering — $48,109
“Construction engineers are responsible for ensuring that all engineering construction plans and specifications are adhered to,” said Washington International’s Karen Clark. They spend their days at the project site reviewing design drawings and equipment specifications, preparing reports and other duties.
Employers look at qualified students across all engineering disciplines and construction management grads to fill their entry-level positions.
Accounting (Public) — $44,668
Public accounting firms provide audit, tax and advisory services for client companies or the marketplace — and they look to university campuses for the bulk of their personnel, said KPMG’s Blane Ruschak. Many public accounting firms hire large amounts of young accountants, who eventually either move into management roles or leave for private accounting and other professions.
A CPA is a must in the public accounting world, so at KPMG, 70 to 80 percent of new hires are accounting majors who have the requirements to take the CPA exams, Ruschak said. Most have a five-year degree or have taken at least 30 post-graduate classroom hours to qualify themselves for the CPA exams.
Teaching — $30,377
Job growth, retiring teachers and high turnover are creating good opportunities for new graduates looking for teaching positions — especially in special education, math, science, some foreign languages and computer sciences, said Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association.
A good teacher should have a strong command of the content they teach and have high expectations of kids, a good sense of humor and a good dose of common sense, he said. “If you don’t believe every child can learn, don’t come into the profession. If you don’t care for kids, don’t come into the profession. If you recognize that you have something really to offer the kids, come on in.”
Field Engineering — $50,812
Field engineers — who are located at the site of the project and typically report to project engineers — are also in high demand, said Washington International’s Karen Clark. An engineering or construction management degree and solid internship experience will give candidates a competitive edge.
Laura Morsch is a writer for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.