A spring graduation brings an end to academic study and the seeking of a professional career for many of our readers.

A recent Career Builder survey, "Life at Work 2004," was conducted from February 17 to February 29, 2004 in which more than 230 hiring managers were surveyed.If you are among the 1.2 million students expected to graduate in 2004, the news is good. Nearly 24 percent of of those surveyed indicated they plan to hire 11.2 percent more new college graduates from the Class of 2004, at increased salaries, than hired from the Class of 2003.

Finding a job requires the right qualifications, the right search tools and often the right timing. For job seekers, the right time is the upcoming fiscal quarter in which 41 percent of hiring managers plan to do the majority of their hiring for the year. Twenty-eight percent said they plan to recruit the greatest number of employees in the third quarter.

Sixty percent of college graduates finding a job can expect to make less than $30,000 a year. Starting salary breakdowns are: 17 percent, $20,000 or less, 43 percent starting at $20,000 to $29,999; 26 percent starting at $30,000 to $39,999; 8 percent starting at $40,000 to $49,999; and 7 percent starting at $50,000 and above.

The study found that more than two-thirds of disciplines studied saw a rise in the average offer. Computer science majors saw the greatest increase of 8.9 percent to $48,656. Information science grads and management information system had conservative increases.

Here are some average starting salaries for the Class of 2004:

  • Project Engineering $46,241
  • Consulting $44,071
  • Design/Construction Engineering $44,015
  • Financial/Treasury Analysis $42,476
  • Accounting (Public) $40,701
  • Nursing $38,987
  • Sales $35,118
  • Management Trainee/Entry-Level Mgmt. $34,709
  • Teaching $29,266

Jobs in the media design and development were not listed in this survey, but according to the US Department of Labor the median annual earnings of salaried of multi-media artists and animators were $43,980 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $33,970 and $61,120. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,830, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $85,160. Median annual earnings were $58,840 in motion picture and video industries.

The US Department of Labor also notes, "Earnings for self-employed artists vary widely. Some artists charge only a nominal fee while they gain experience and build a reputation for their work. Others, such as well-established freelance fine artists and illustrators, can earn more than salaried artists. Many, however, find it difficult to rely solely on income earned from selling paintings or other works of art. Like other self-employed workers, freelance artists must provide their own benefits"

Here are some additional online references that provide salary information for jobs such as web designer, graphic artist, programmers, production manager and others. Most of these positions are within corporate or business settings and do not necessarily reflect independent contractors.

Computer Jobs Salary Search. This site facilitates looking up the surveyed salary for persons working in multimedia, computer graphics, programming, and other related disciplines.

Design Salaries. This survey was conducted on behalf of AIGA, its partner Aquent and with the cooperation of Communication Arts magazine. It looks at the types of design work surveyed, type of organization, salary and benefits.

Graphic-Design-Firm Managers and Professionals Median annual salary. This is a summary of an American Institute of Graphic Arts/Aquent Survey of Design Salaries 2003. It covers a wide-range of professional positions from web designer to art director.

Production cost surveys for producing multimedia. Provides an overview of fees charged by actors, composers, musicians, writers, programmers, voice over talent and others involved with multimedia production. Compiled by students at Lane Community College.

Salary.com This site provides a free basic report showing national average salaries adjusted by location.

Working the Web: Is your salary fare? By Kim Wimpsett. This January, 2000, article reports on a survey by the Association of Internet Professionals (AIP). The survey divided the industry into 12 categories of jobs, encompassing dozens of job titles. A total of 2,918 respondents completed the Web-based survey over a three-week period, and the findings of 2,163 full-time Internet professionals are included in the report. (The findings for the remaining 765 independent contractors were released in a separate report.) Although this is a few years old, it still provides a point of reference for salary within various career areas.