Polytechnic advantage: Graduates see average starting salary rise to $58,000

New First Destination report finds three career areas with $60,000-plus averages along with 99% overall employment rate
​Jerry Poling | March 27, 2024

In pure dollars and cents, the value of a degree from UW-Stout has never been greater.

A new report found that graduates from fall 2022 through summer 2023 not only were employed at a near historic high of 99% soon after receiving their degree but also had a record average starting salary of $58,000, the best among higher education institutions in west-central Wisconsin.

“This year’s report points again to the clear and distinct impact that Stout graduates are making and the value that companies, locally and regionally, place on the polytechnic education that Stout provides,” Career Services Director Bryan Barts said.

The average starting salary has risen $8,500 in the last three years, with a $4,500 increase over last year.

A UW-Stout student meets with a recruiter from Boston Scientific at the Spring Career Conference on campus. Recent graduates reported a $58,000 average starting salary and 99% employment rate.
A student meets with a recruiter from Boston Scientific at the Spring Career Conference. Recent graduates reported a $58,000 average salary and 99% employment rate. / UW-Stout

Leading the way were graduates in science, engineering and math with salaries averaging $67,000, information technology $65,000, and business and management $60,000. UW-Stout has more than 45 undergraduate and 24 graduate programs.

Graduates were hired by many leading national companies, including 56 that rank in the Fortune 500. They include 3M, Mayo Clinic, Boston Scientific, Proctor & Gamble, Milwaukee Tool, Target, Andersen, Cisco, Ecolab, H&M, Kohl’s, Kohler, Menards, Marriott International, Rockwell Automation, Gap, Sentry Insurance, Xcel Energy, Best Buy, Fastenal, Hewlett-Packard, Reuters, Ashley, Del Monte, General Mills, Honda, Hormel and Toro.

The 99% employment rate continues to entrench UW-Stout in the upper echelon of universities across the country for graduate outcomes. Since at least 2000, the rate for graduates has been above 97% and has averaged above 98% for the past seven years. 

UW-Stout students navigate the Spring Career Conference, which had more than 300 employers hiring for full-time positions and internships.
UW-Stout students navigate the Spring Career Conference, which had more than 300 employers hiring for full-time positions and internships. / UW-Stout

The high average starting salary gives UW-Stout graduates a boost to start their careers, and they can expect the positive returns on their investment in higher education to continue. Nationally, a four-year degree earner already makes $24,000 a year more between ages 22 and 27 than someone with a high school diploma and $1.4 million more over a career. Nearly 70% of jobs now require a postsecondary education.

The annual First Destination Report is compiled by Career Services, which oversees biannual Career Conferences on campus, some of the largest in the Midwest with 300-plus employers, and other programs that support career development.

Career success is a hallmark of an education at Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, along with applied learning and industry collaboration. 

Phillips-Medisize honored by UW and UW-Stout with Regents Business Partnership Award

Phillips-Medisize was recognized by the Universities of Wisconsin and UW-Stout with the Regents Business Partnership Award.
Continue Reading

Graduate success stories

One of the business and management graduates was Ben Larson, of Menomonie, who earned a degree in supply chain management and was hired prior to graduating in December 2022. He is a supply chain analyst at Andersen in Menomonie.

Larson had internships, a mandatory aspect of his program, at Menards and Andersen and was glad he did. “They helped me harness soft skills I would not have likely learned in the classroom, all while supervising workers and learning analytic applications for production facilities,” he said.

More than 1,000 UW-Stout students took part in the Cooperative Education and Internship Program at UW-Stout in 2022-23. Along with gaining on-the-job experience, earning academic credit and making potential future job connections, like Larson, they earned an average of $19.74 an hour.

Willa Rodencal at commencement.
Willa Rodencal, who turned an internship at Gap into a full-time job. / UW-Stout

“Not only did we see strong rises in overall salaries for first destination employment outcomes but also a fifth straight year of increased co-op/internship wages,” Barts said.

Willa Rodencal, of Waukesha, graduated in December 2022 from the retail merchandising and development program — now called fashion design and development — and was hired before graduation at Gap in San Francisco.

An internship at Gap convinced her that she was getting the education she needed to succeed in her career and led to her full-time job offer.

“I remember starting my internship at Gap … and worried I would not succeed. I was more prepared than I ever expected to be,” Rodencal said, citing knowledge from classes such as Trend Tracking and Forecasting, and Finite and Financial Mathematics and Applications.
 

Matthew Ryan, third from left, interned at aerospace company United Launch Alliance in Colorado and then was hired full-time as a software engineer after graduating in May 2023 from UW-Stout. He majored in computer and electrical engineering.
Matthew Ryan, third from left, interned at aerospace company United Launch Alliance in Colorado and then was hired full-time as a software engineer after graduating in May 2023. / Contributed photo

Matthew Ryan, of Oconomowoc, graduated in May 2023 in computer and electrical engineering and was hired as a software engineer at an aerospace company, United Launch Alliance, in Colorado. He also interned at the company prior to graduating. 

Devin Dumke, of Florence, earned the same degree and also is a software engineer, for Rice Lake Weighing Systems. He began work before he graduated in December 2022. “Both inside and beyond the classroom, my experiences at UW-Stout improved my leadership skills and taught me how to accomplish my goals,” Dumke said.

Along with the overall 99% employment rate, 100% of veterans who graduated were employed.

Wisconsin employers hired 56% of the nearly 1,400 UW-Stout graduates from 2022-23 while another 28% were hired in Minnesota.

The employment rate includes 6.7% of students who are continuing their education, serving full time in the military or working in a service field.

Student success is the leading goal of UW-Stout’s FOCUS2030 strategic plan.  

###


Students from across country address water quality issues in Red Cedar watershed with UW-Stout mentors Featured Image

Students from across country address water quality issues in Red Cedar watershed with UW-Stout mentors

LAKES researchers to present on dynamics of water quality, community efforts to protect it on Aug. 8 at Raw Deal in Menomonie
Dialed in: Engineering projects hum as students present prototypes to industry sponsors Featured Image

Dialed in: Engineering projects hum as students present prototypes to industry sponsors

It was the moment of truth for a team of UW-Stout engineering majors, as peers, professors and industry representatives gathered around.
STEAM camps offer nearly 275 area middle, high school students hands-on preview of education at UW-Stout Featured Image

STEAM camps offer nearly 275 area middle, high school students hands-on preview of education at UW-Stout

They discover career paths in microbiology and genetics; develop innovative patterns in fashion design