graduate in a gown and cap with yellow tassel smiling and looking at the camera with other grads visible around them
Barry Austin Photography/Getty Images

The American work climate is changing rapidly—as I write this, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics announced that employment rose by 528,000 jobs in July, defying expectations after some high-profile companies enacted hiring freezes in anticipation of a possible recession. At The Muse, we’ve been wondering: How are new grads doing right now? You OK?

In May, we surveyed nearly 900 new grads (defined as someone graduating with an academic degree in 2022) and the results offer a timely look into their mindset. 

First, a brief look at who these people are:

  • 57% of respondents have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 36% cite high school as their highest degree.
chart showing education level of survey respondents
The Muse

Now, some key takeaways:

Graduates are clear-eyed about entry-level wages.

  • 41% of respondents say they expect to earn between $10,000 and $40,000 a year in their first job after graduation.
  • 27% of respondents say they aim to earn between $40,001 and $90,000 with their newly minted degree.
  • An ambitious 11% of respondents, likely highly educated and/or in high-demand fields, expect to earn more than $200,000 a year.
chart showing pay expectations of survey respondents
The Muse

With more education, new graduates expect more pay.

  • Among those with a high school degree or less, more than half of respondents expect to earn $40,000 or less annually.
  • Of those with a bachelor’s degree, most expect $120,000 or less.
  • Among those with a master’s degree, most expect $150,000 or less.
  • And of those with a doctorate, 56% expect to earn $200,000 or more.

Young workers may want to be in the office with their peers.

  • When asked what percentage above market rate would you need to work from the office five days a week, 23% of new graduates say they would do so with no increase in salary, indicating that they see it as a chance to build relationships and find community.
  • About half say they would need to be paid 20% or more above market rate to come into the office five days a week.
  • Those expecting a lower salary are more willing to work on-site.
  • As salary expectations increase, people need more compensation to work on-site. This may also indicate that as people advance in their education and/or career, their life stage can create a desire for more flexibility—including where they do their work. 
chart showing what percentage above market rate respondents would need to work from the office five days a week
The Muse

Learning and growth opportunities are top priority when choosing a post-grad job.

  • 25% of respondents cite learning and growth opportunities as their number one priority.
  • Work-life balance comes in a close second, at 24%.
  • Interestingly, compensation is top priority for only 9% of respondents.
chart showing what respondents said was their number one priority when choosing a job
The Muse

Data and analytics is the top field for new grads who took our survey.

  • 18.2% of respondents say they’re going into data and analytics, the most popular field out of nearly 40 options.
  • Education comes in second, with 17% followed by project management at 16.2%.
  • 18% of respondents chose not to respond to this question—perhaps because 40 options is a tad too many.

Regardless of whether you're a new graduate or not, be sure to check out all open roles on The Muse by clicking here

Updated 8/5/2022