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Front Page » January 10, 2006 » Local News » Independent research report compares salaries of Utah's c...
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Independent research report compares salaries of Utah's college, university graduates

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A survey of 2004 graduates from Utah colleges and universities indicates that students earning bachelor's degrees earn less than $30,000 per year after obtaining employment at locations statewide.

Compiled last year by independent public policy organization Utah Foundation, the report shows a significant difference in salaries of students graduating with advanced degrees.

In addition, the majority of University of Utah and Brigham Young University graduates are earning $50,000 or more annually. The U of U leads the state in the proportion of advanced graduates earning $80,000 or more per year.

"These salary comparisons can end up with different rankings, depending on the salary ranges examined. While UVSC clearly leads in the proportion of bachelor's degree graduates earning $40,000 or more, if we look at the higher income ranges, BYU and the University of Utah are basically tied with UVSC," noted foundation research analyst Richard Pak. "UVSC graduates are much more likely to have studied business, computer science or other higher paying, career oriented subjects, which gives them a statistical edge in salary rankings."

Graduates who completed internships as part of the college experience are more likely to be employed full-time and receive significantly higher salaries.

Westminster College outperformed Utah schools in internship placement, with 70 percent of the school's graduates reporting that they completed an internship.

"It is probably no coincidence that Westminster students had the most internship opportunities and also held a much higher opinion of Utah's job opportunities than students from other schools," pointed out the research analyst.

Nevertheless, graduates from Utah's major colleges and universities rated the state's job market as below par.

The ranking appears to be a result of Utah jobs providing lower salaries, indicated the independent public policy organization's report.

Graduates from Weber State, UVSC, the U of U and Westminster College are the most likely to remain in Utah after graduation.

In percentage terms, BYU graduates are most likely to leave the state after graduation.

However, BYU attracts a studentbody with a majority of non-natives and 42 percent remain in the state after earning bachelor degrees, adding a significant number of graduates to Utah's workforce.

Southern Utah University led the state in the proportion of 2004 graduates who became homemakers at 13 percent and BYU followed at 10 percent. At the opposite end of the scale, less than 2 percent of the U of U and none of the Westminster graduates opted to become full-time homemakers.

Graduates most likely to be employed full-time after obtaining a bachelor's degree are graduates of UVSC, Utah State University and Westminster. BYU graduates with bachelor's degrees are least likely to be working full-time at 57 percent. BYU graduates are the mos likely pursue an advanced degree at 29 percen.

Overall, the report showed that graduates felt that Utah offered a high quality of life with good communities, affordable housing, and excellent recreation, but they did not have a favorable perception of job opportunities in Utah.

When asked to compare Utah's job opportunities to other places they have lived, graduates from all schools felt that the state did not compare favorably. Among the surveyed schools, Westminster graduates rated Utah the highest for job opportunities. It is probably no coincidence that Westminster had the lowest proportion of graduates receiving salaries less than $30,000.

According to the survey, the state retained 60 percent of the students who graduated from Utah colleges and universities in 2004. The overall retention of students graduating with bachelor's degrees ranged from 47 percent at Brigham Young University to 82 percent at Weber State University. Southern Utah University and Utah State had significantly lower retention rates at 57 precent and 54 percent respectively. Retention of Utahns graduating from all schools was significantly higher than the retention of non-natives.

Of all 2004 graduates, 22 percent decided to further educations and 71 percent entered or remained in the labor force. UVSC graduates lead the way interms of employment with 83.9 percent of the school's graduates in the workforce and 78.4 percent employed full-time. The next highest was USU with 74.7 percent in the labor force. UVSC recently received accreditation to offer four year degrees. The college currenty offers only a select number of bachelor's degrees, most of which focus on fields of study with direct employment applications. Example include business, marketing, education and vocational degrees such as aviation science, technology management and applied technology.

Overall, the foundation eport showed that 64 percent of 2004 graduates were employed full-time one year after receiving degrees. USU and UVSC bachelor's graduates were employed at a significantly higher rate than the other schools, while BYU bachelor's graduates were employed full-time at the lowest rate in terms of salaries. UVSC graduates seem to have found higher paying jobs.

According to 2004 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Utah ranked 36th nationally in average annual pay at $32,171, significantly lower than the national average of $39,354. Among all the advanced degree graduates surveyed, the median salary was in the $50,000 to $59,999 range, and only 1.4% are currently earning salaries lower than $30,000 a year. In contrast, depending on the school, 40% to 69% of bachelor's graduates were earning salaries below $30,000.

While internships are not a part of a student's official education, an internship can play a vital role in providing a college student with an education that extends beyond the classroom. Internships help make the connection between a field of study and its "real world" applications. Internships often translate into full-time employment after graduation as well as provide networking opportunities for other job opportunities.

Students who complete internships not only have more employment opportunities, but may command higher salaries because of the experience.

On the other hand, graduates who did not complete internships chose to further educations at significantly higher rates.

Ironically, graduates who had internship opportunities rated Utah's overall job opportunities lower than graduates who did not have an internship. This translated into a lower retention rate in Utah of graduates who interned during school. The implication is that many of the interning graduates left the state for better job opportunities. Perhaps their internship experiences made these students more competitive for out-of-state jobs, but it is not clear why more of them left the state than other graduates.

Overall, 39% of the 2004 graduates said they had completed internships. Looking at each of the colleges separately, 34% to 70% of students completed an internship during their schooling while the range for paid internships varied from 21% to 41% with Westminster leading the way in both categories.

While the majority of graduates either choose to seek employment or pursue further education opportunities, a small but significant portion of those surveyed stated that they chose to become homemakers after graduation. Overall, 6% of graduates identified themselves as full-time homemakers (Figure 9), nearly all of them female bachelor's graduates. Among the schools, the percentage ranged from 0% at Westminster to 7.5% at SUU. Overall, nearly a tenth of female graduates identified themselves as homemakers. Utah and Westminster female graduates were the least likely to be homemakers, while BYU and SUU female grads were the mostly likely.

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