“It’s a good time to major in business.”
That was a key finding in the Job Outlook 2015 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Released Nov. 12, the survey found that more than 75% of companies surveyed planned to hire business majors from the class of 2015. The study also revealed that graduates could expect starting salaries to increase over the previous year.
NACE, which has forecasted graduates’ employment prospects since 1956, surveyed members on their hiring plans from August to October 2014. It received 260 surveys back – a 25 percent response rate – from companies like Cargill, Kimberly-Clark, IBM, DuPont, and Procter & Gamble. The survey covered a wide swath of industries, though firms from the Midwest were more heavily represented, at 32%, than those from the West, at 18%.
MOVE OVER STEM, BUSINESS MAJORS COMING THROUGH
While academics and politicians stress the value of STEM majors, employers continue to hire business majors in bulk. According to the NACE survey, 180 of 240 employers intend to add graduates from all degree levels – associate to MBA – who majored in business. That 75% number matches engineering (74.4%), and tops computer and information sciences (57.4%), math and sciences (38.6%), and communications (26.9%). Among bachelor’s degree holders, business also beats engineering by 74.4% to 70.9%. At the master’s level, business remains the most coveted degree among employers by a 7.5% margin over engineering.
Broken down further, business education’s dominance is even more pronounced. Take employers looking to hire graduates with a bachelor’s degree. Here, business-related majors comprise six of the 10 most in-demand degrees, including finance (57.4%), accounting (56.1%), business administration and management (47.5%), marketing (41.7%), supply chain management (39%), and management information systems (39%). When you combine finance and accounting together, that number actually rises to 75%.
From a regional standpoint, finance and accounting are the clear winners. In the Northeast, 58.5% of respondents intended to hire both finance and business majors – and 50.9% were looking to add accounting graduates. In the southeast, accounting (50.8%) and finance (49.2%) graduates ranked high on hiring wish lists. Both majors were also coveted in the Midwest (61.4% for accounting and 48.6% in finance) and the West (64.1% for finance and 59.0% in accounting).
Among the biggest consumers of accounting and finance talent were food and beverage manufacturers, support services companies, government, and insurance and real estate companies. Companies were heavily attracted to business administration and management graduates in the retail, transportation, and finance, insurance, and real estate sectors.
GRADUATES CAN EXPECT HIGHER WAGES
The survey data wasn’t all rosy. For example, the number of employers who expected to increase hiring dropped from 8.6 percent to 8.3 percent over the previous year. However, that news is offset by a projected 3.6 percent increase in wages over 2014. In fact, 65.5 percent of employers intended to increase salaries for bachelor’s degree holders, with the engineering services, food and beverage manufacturing, and computer and electronics manufacturing sectors leading the way.