The exact salary Gen Z expects to make right out of college will shock you

You’re not going to be making that much. And no, you’re not going to be making that much, either. The current crop of college grads – Generation Z class – wildly overestimates the salary they’ll be making in their first entry-level jobs, according to a survey from real estate data company Clever.

While the average Gen Z undergrad expects to make $57,964 one year out of college, the national median salary for recent grads with bachelor’s degrees who have between zero to five years of work experience is actually $47,000. Reality bites!

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Here’s a partial look at expectations vs. reality across majors.


The average undergraduate is also unrealistic about the salary they’ll be making mid-career (about ten years in), overestimating by about $15,000.

Women expect less

Women generally expect lower salaries than men, even when they hold the same major. On average, women with a bachelor’s or graduate degree estimate $4,338 less than men with similar degrees early in their career, and $10,836 less than their male counterparts by mid-career.

You can see the discrepancy below.

But what about bennies?

Generation Z, who said that the number one reason they’re going to college is “to make more money in my future,” is all about the cold, hard cash. They ranked employee benefits differently than Millennials, going for money-based incentives first – things like competitive salaries and good insurance plans. They aren’t as lured by soft benefits like flex time, “fun” work environments, and unlimited paid time off.

But is college worth it?

According to a 2015 Gallup poll, only 37% of undergrads believe that college is worth the cost, compared to 50% of college graduates.

Perhaps because 81% of respondents with student debt suggested they’d have to put off major life decisions because of it, such as buying a house or having kids.

Cheer up about that $47k salary, Gen Z. It’s a lot more than our starting salary for our first job, which we had to travel to uphill, both ways, in the snow.

While it might not be as much as you think, you should still learn how to answer the salary question in order to get the most that you possibly can.