Gen Z College Students Say They Won’t Work For Less Than $72,000 At Their First Job

via Wealth Gang

Alright, let’s get this out of the way: Gen Z, you might be wildly optimistic, but we love your confidence. Truly, nothing screams ambition like expecting a casual $84,855 paycheck right out of college. Yes, you read that right. And if you’re doing the math at home, that’s a whopping 52% more than the average starting salary of $55,911.

While older generations might have choked on their coffee reading that figure, there’s something commendable about setting the bar high. It’s a blend of audacity and aspiration, a cocktail Gen Z seems to sip on regularly.

In an era where everyone’s trying to stand out and leave their mark, this generation isn’t just stepping up to the plate; they’re aiming to own the entire ballpark.

According to a study by the real estate data firm Clever, Gen Z college graduates have some big time expectations when it comes to their starting salaries at their first jobs out of college. 

A Bit of History and Perspective

According to the study, last year college students believed they’d pocket an ambitious $103,880 in their first job. Maybe that was the result of watching too many HBO Silicon Valley episodes or perhaps some overly enthusiastic career advisors? Either way, fears about the economy have them pulling back those figures slightly in 2023. Yet, they’re still hoping for paychecks fatter than reality suggests.

Flexibility with a Dash of Confidence

One might be tempted to say, “Gen Z students haven’t done their homework,” but here’s where it gets interesting. They’re flexible. In fact, a staggering 97% would accept lower pay if the job served up a plate of perks like good work-life balance and flexible hours. Still, don’t expect them to settle for pennies.

The magic number? A tidy sum of $72,580.

The Resume? Who Needs It?

While students prioritize landing jobs within their major, good benefits, and competitive salaries, a hefty 61% believe their degrees alone will dazzle employers. There’s no need to build a resume or put in the grunt work at an entry-level position. No, no, employers will surely see their innate genius and thrust them into senior-level roles from the get-go. Surreeeeeeee, Jan. 

Business Majors Taking the Lead

Business students, in particular, deserve a spotlight. If confidence were currency, they’d be billionaires. They expect to make a dazzling $98,113 one year after graduation, according to the Clever survey. To put that in perspective, that’s almost double the average starting salary for their field. Fast forward a decade, and they’re expecting to be rolling in $223,679.

The Passion vs. Paycheck Dilemma

An intriguing 64% of students in the study chose their major based on future earnings rather than genuine passion. Yet, they might be singing the blues as over half regret their choice. Those tough engineering courses might rake in the cash, but they’re also dishing out heaps of regret.

Decade-Long Aspirations: From Zero to Hero

The most eye-popping statistic? The expectation that a mere ten years post-graduation will see salaries of $204,560. It’s delightful, really, to think that in a decade one might nearly double the current mid-career average of $98,647.

Final Thoughts: A Generational Statement

Let’s circle back to that $72,580 figure from the study. It’s more than just a number. It’s a statement. After watching older generations hustle and still grapple with financial stability, Gen Z doesn’t just want more; they believe they deserve it. They’re negotiating for a better future, a more comfortable life. Whether these expectations meet reality remains to be seen.

But for now, let’s toast to Gen Z’s unfettered optimism. Here’s hoping the universe (and future employers) conspire to meet them somewhere close to their dreams. 

B. Carlisle

Contributing editor at Wealth Gang. An entrepreneur at heart, he's passionate about meaningful ways to leverage technology and social media for business opportunities and side hustles.