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Job Prospects Good for New Grads

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RALEIGH — Graduating students have shed a lot of tears and sweat to get their diplomas. They can expect that hard work to pay off handsomely when they enter the job market.

The market is the best it's been in 25 years. Engineering, computer sciences and mathematics are among the hottest fields for new graduates -- so hot that the young candidates are being called "gold collar" workers. Many are worried about which offer to take instead of whether they'll find a job.

"Quite frankly, if you are a warm body, and especially if you have a good background, a college education -- you can write your own ticket right now," says Dr. Michael Walden, an NC State University economist.

Luke Meyer will graduate from N.C. State with a double major in computer science and math on Saturday. He hasn't started looking for a job yet, but he isn't worried about the future. "I haven't honestly been looking around much, but I'm not worried. I guess I'll just start asking for around $50,000 and see how it goes," he says with a grin.

That isn't just youthful optimism talking. The job market is hot, especially for technology majors.

"It's really a seller's market. In other words, if you're a person selling your labor, selling your skills, there are going to be a lot of buyers out there," Walden said.

Kirk Russell will be selling his skills soon. As a graduate student in electrical engineering, he could be in the enviable position of choosing between several job offers.

"There's a high demand for engineers that are trained and have a little bit of experience to do the work," Russell said. "And a lot of companies are offering large sums of money to pay for those people's skills."

A recent study shows the average starting salary for chemical engineers is more than $45,000 per year. Computer science graduates can expect to start at more than $40,000 per year.

Grads from other fields can take heart -- many companies are willing to train new employees.

And Walden says the economy will stay strong, so graduates can look forward to getting a job and keeping it.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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