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Hokies earn more than Wahoos

David Larter July 23, 2009 35

titansalaryThe survey is done and the results are in: If you want to make bank as a recent grad, Virginia Tech is the place to go.

A recent survey posted on payscale.com found that the median income for recent graduates of Virginia Tech is $52,900 per year.  That is $700 more than its closest competitor, the University of Virginia. That’s right, Cavaliers: The Hokies got you beat.

Dartmouth College was No. 1 on the list.

Tech was No. 72.

Tech also inched out UVA with the median salary mid-career as well, with $97,400to UVA’s $97,200. But nobody in the region seems to make as much mid-career as the grads of Washington & Lee, whose mid-career salaries land a median of $104,000 annually.

The number of people surveyed is unclear, but it has a heavy margin of error for the Ivy League and small liberal arts schools such as the University of Richmond. For those institutions, the margin of error is 10 percent. The whole survey has a margin of 5 percent.

University of Richmond grads fare a little better than their rival William & Mary after graduation: UR grads are making $48,900 to W&M grads’ $46,900, although W&M grads seem to make more mid-career.

Both schools just manage to edge out VCU grads, who make a median of $42,000 annually after graduating.

See the rest of the schools in the region in order of highest to lowest starting salary.

Virginia Tech
Starting: $52,900
Mid-Career: $97,400

University of Virginia
Starting: $52,200
Mid-Career: $97,200

Washington and Lee
Starting: $51,800
Mid-Career: $104,000

George Mason University
Starting: $49,300
Mid-Career: $85,700

University of Richmond
Starting: $48,900
Mid-Career: $88,700

The College of William and Mary
Starting: $46,900
Mid-Career: $89,300

Hampton University
Starting: $45,300
Mid Career: $75,800

James Madison University
Starting: $47,300
Mid-Career: $77,100

Old Dominion University
Starting: $42,700
Mid-Career: $76,700

Virginia Commonwealth University
Starting: $42,300
Mid-Career: $70,100

Randolph-Macon College
Starting: $42,100
Mid-Career: $82,600

Liberty University
Starting: $39,700
Mid-Career: $76,900

Norfolk State University
Starting: $38,100
Mid-Career: $63,800

David Larter covers higher education for BizSense. Please send news tips to [email protected]

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  1. Mike Mullins July 23, 2009 at 6:55 am - Reply

    Looks like the margin of error is in place here or this article was written by a hokie

  2. john m July 23, 2009 at 7:21 am - Reply

    “See the rest of the schools in the region in order of highest to lowest starting salary.”

    The rest of the schools in the study in the region, anyway. None of the local HBCUs seem to have been included, leaving out VUU, Norfolk State, Virginia State…

  3. Richmond BizSense
    admin July 23, 2009 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the comment. I apologize for not making that clear. I did look up Virginia State and Virginia Union but they were not on the survey we are quoting here. Honestly, Norfolk State just slipped my mind. I did see that it was on the list now that you mention it, so I’ll add it to the article now. Thanks for reading!

    David Larter

    PS. And to Mike’s point, I’m a Spider, not a Hokie.

  4. Rich O. July 23, 2009 at 9:34 am - Reply

    A little hometown favoritism still. ODU is higher than VCU but shown lower on the list.

  5. Pirate pride July 23, 2009 at 9:44 am - Reply

    I love Hampton University. I was blessed to graduate may 11 and start on the job june 2 making $52, 700 starting out. Im so proud of all the in-state schools. Oh yeah, GO HOKIES!!!

  6. R.T. July 23, 2009 at 9:55 am - Reply

    You also left off George Mason and James Madison. GMU was $49,300 & $85,700. JMU was $47,300 and $77,100.

  7. Sampling Error July 23, 2009 at 10:02 am - Reply

    I find two major flaws with this list. One; it doesn’t take post-graduate degrees into account. Thus students who become doctors, lawyers, etc.. are excluded. HUGE problem. Secondly, it doesn’t take cost of living in account either. Large proportions of graduates from schools near New York are going to work in New York and by default, have higher salaries than graduates from Iowa who work in Iowa. That wasn’t factored into the list either. I don’t put much stock in it at all.

    • Nostromo February 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm - Reply


    • jared November 20, 2012 at 10:16 am - Reply

      Out of curiosity, which Virginia schools are close to New York?

  8. Matt July 23, 2009 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Don’t mind Mike, he’s just being a typical Cav

  9. Ben July 23, 2009 at 11:59 am - Reply

    More UVA students will make a LOT more than hokies 10 years down the road, with our Law, Business, Medical, etc, degrees. This is a marathon, not a sprint. VPI is higher right now b/c they have some many engineers, who get paid very well out of college. But the maximum earning potential for an engineer levels off in the lower 6-figures, whereas the degrees mentioned above are what gets one into the upper 6-figures and into the millions.

    Thanks for playing.

  10. VT4Life July 23, 2009 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    Dear Ben,

    If you read, you will know that these rankings are for undergraduates. Basically a VT undergraduate degree on average is worth more than a UVA degree. Now be advised, you might say “well the Engineers at VT will bring the average up.” But it’s obvious that we have an equally large Agriculture College that brings that average out.

    Also, it is unfair to compare law and med schools as VT doesn’t have the former, and the latter isn’t fully constructed yet.

    Just admit that VT is as good as school as UVA and has equal opportunities. Salary means much more than USNWR rankings. This is proof.

  11. Patrick July 23, 2009 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Where did you get your information from Ben? Engineering salaries can go up above the lower 100k range. You say it doesn’t include doctors or lawyers, well it also doesn’t include graduate students from the college of engineering either who will have starting salaries in the 70 to 90k range. So equally the graduate students were left out, so that argument is mute.

    And anyways, a majority of students wanted to go to VT. While UVA has a good portion who went there as a backup because daddy couldn’t buy them a spot at Harvard.

  12. TarHokie July 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    As someone who attended undergrad at VT and business school at UNC-Chapel Hill, I can confidently say that VT is a top-tier education. While there may not be the schmoozing opportunities available as at an Ivy League or other Top 25 institution, the education is as good or better.

    The reason graduate degrees aren’t factored in is that it complicates the analysis to the point of being meaningless. How do you seperate out the value of the graduate degrees and the associated institutions? Most professional students do not stay at their undergraduate institution, so you end up combining brands.

    For example, a VT grad with an MBA from Harvard (yes there are some) would clearly make more than a UVA grad with a law degree from Campbell University. The analysis above is the only “pure” way to measure the value of an undergraduate degree.

    Overall, glad to see that VT fared so well. Now if UVA can resurrect a quasi-decent football and basketball program, there might be some actual competition. For now, VT is THE premier institution in the state!

  13. DC Spider July 23, 2009 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    What is mid-career? An age, a number of years in the workforce, a level? Not sure what that is.

  14. hoocares July 23, 2009 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Wow….what a joke of an article. Anyone who took elementary math could see the flaws in this reporting. The figures show a median salary, not a mean salary. So yes, tech spits out a larger population of students with engineering degrees that will go out and make 60-70 k a year while UVa most likely has a lot of liberal arts degrees that start out earning less. Surely if you calculated the mean salary UVa would be higher, cause I know there are some very high salaries being offered to a portion of UVa grads.

    Either way, who cares. Both are good schools. But Tech has nothing to compare with the Darden school, UVa Law School, or the Medical School. The D.O. program at Tech is a comical. Stick to animals.

  15. Scott July 23, 2009 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    Wait, so are we supposed to be surprised that an engineering based school has a stronger undergrad median salary than a social science undergrad program? Social Sciences are pretty much useless in the working world until you get to the post-graduate programs (Masters, PhDs, etc). Outside of McIntyre school of Business, there are only a few UVA programs that are specifically aimed at going right into the work force (for reference, McIntyre average salary right out of school is 58k a year*). By looking strictly at those with only an undergrad degree, this list isn’t really comparing similar schools.

    And Ivy League schools are heavily laden with business programs, hence why we see such a density of them at the top of this list.


  16. Scott July 23, 2009 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    To sum up what I just said:
    UVA == Liberal Arts school, ideal for graduate schools
    VaTech == Engineering school, ideal for career

    Take a survey of the median and average salary of all graduates of each school fifteen to twenty years out and that would be a much less bias statistical population to use.

  17. Mary July 24, 2009 at 7:23 am - Reply

    What about University of Mary Washington? I think the survey needs serious correcting.

  18. VT Geography July 24, 2009 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    close to $200000 this year

  19. @laptopmnky July 25, 2009 at 2:39 am - Reply

    I’d sure like to be making 42k… VCU Dec. 2008 Grad. 🙂 School of the Arts though.

    Also, UVA vs. VT talk makes me want to throw up.

  20. Guy July 25, 2009 at 3:08 am - Reply

    Anyone who really believes that all the rich children who go to UR are entering fields that pay dramatically less, especially at mid-career, than the grads from Va. Tech are entering, raise your hands. This is a flawed study.

  21. Justin July 27, 2009 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    I will be graduating from VT in May and was really happy to read this article and rub it in the faces of my UVA friends from high school who seem to think VT sucks in relation. I know numbers and the median is a better way to show average salaries then the mean. The median will take out outliers like the guy who got a job making 200k or the other guy making 20k. Both great schools though and plenty of good ones elsewhere in Va. GO HOKIES!!

  22. Really Patrick?? July 30, 2009 at 10:06 am - Reply

    The point would be moot, not mute. I learned that in High School and used it correctly in my admissions essays hence the reason I got into UVA and VT only thing is that the VT application took me 15 minutes and I was accepted immediately.

    I would like to concur that this is clearly reporting median salaries and with VT graduating significantly more engineers who have much higher starting salaries then their liberal arts counterparts I am not surprised that they edged UVA by a few hundred dollars. I would love to see the data pool for this study, they would be very enlightening and place these statistics in context.

    No one is arguing that VT is better in Football nor are we arguing that VT is not a great school, because it is; just not the best school in Virginia that’s in Charlottesville.

  23. Haywood Jablome January 12, 2010 at 1:33 am - Reply

    The next time you are sitting in traffic around the beltway, compare the vehicles you see with VT bumper stickers with those sporting the UVA window decals. You might find an occasional Lexus with the VT logo, but pretty much all of the Audis, BWMs, et al, will fall into the UVA column. You can play with the salary numbers if it gives you a sense of self-worth with your Tech degree, meanwhile I and my peers have all made a ton of cash since we graduated the University.

  24. Shelley Woodroof February 23, 2010 at 9:39 am - Reply

    This UVA/VT stuff is so stupid…the bottom line is:
    U.S. News & World Report Rankings: America’s Best Colleges
    The University of Virginia continues to excel in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings. In March 2009, many of U.Va.’s graduate programs earned top recognitions (see below). In August 2009, U.S. News & World Report’s latest (undergraduate) college rankings placed the University of Virginia as the nation’s No. 2 public university and 24th (tied with UCLA) among 248 national universities. Since U.S. News began a separate listing of the top 50 public universities, U.Va. has never been ranked lower than No. 2. In the 20-year history of the rankings, U.Va. has never dropped out of the top 25 listing of all public and private universities. The University of Virginia has the highest graduation rate among public universities Go HOOS!!

  25. Pamplin Graduate March 12, 2010 at 10:59 am - Reply

    25% of the US News rankings are a 4-year graduation metric. This destroys Virginia Tech and isn’t fair because our majors, in general, are much harder than UVA majors. For example, chemical engineering: You try doing a 132 hour engineering curriculum in just 4 years with 2 internship summers. It isn’t possible for the even the average engineer (Sat ~1350; GPA 4.3) to do.

  26. Charlie February 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Of course UVa people are going to get on their high-horses. So what if VT has higher numbers because of engineering? Its still an education and a job that that person earned. And Haywood…seriously? Pointing out cars? I see Harvard, Yale, and Stanford bumper stickers on cars that are not “high-value” cars that people like to flaunt.
    And I am confused as to how you can’t include lawyers and doctors? its a job, and a very hard one if you aren’t aware.
    I also know MANY Virginia Tech grads who make far more than UVa grads. If you can graduate from a college after doing well, then that is great.
    Everyone has their opinions on what school they think is the best. How about we all go back to valuing an education and earning money instead of fighting and being so pretentious?

  27. SydneyVT February 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm - Reply

    We’re talking a $700 difference here. Don’t get your panties in a wad about it.

  28. realVT February 28, 2012 at 11:00 pm - Reply


  29. whatnexthighschools February 29, 2012 at 9:37 am - Reply

    I didn’t go to college, glad I didn’t since everyone here has the time to argue over $700 / year. College wasn’t for me, so I started a business and have quite a few VT and UVA grads working for me (oh, I’m 35 btw).

  30. Nostromo February 29, 2012 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    The USA desperately needs scientist and engineers as we enter the 21st century. The value of Land Grant engineering-based schools are overtaking their formerly more prestigious liberal arts peers: VT vs. UVA, Auburn vs. Alabama, Georgia Tech vs. Georgia, Purdue vs. Indianna, etc. Its a hard fact, the future values engineers more than poets.

  31. Transit March 1, 2012 at 6:48 am - Reply

    I really wish VSU would have been on here.

  32. Dex January 11, 2013 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Did anyone miss that this was a survey? I’m a statistics major, and this post is close to useless. Did no one realize the reason they used median salaries? Yeah… Compare the UVA outliers and the Tech outliers and see what you get.

    “This destroys Virginia Tech and isn’t fair because our majors, in general, are much harder than UVA majors. For example, chemical engineering: You try doing a 132 hour engineering curriculum in just 4 years with 2 internship summers. “…. Really? because UVA doesn’t have a chemical engineering major…

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