Cal Poly graduates reportedly make the highest starting salary out of all University of California and California State University schools.

According to , a company that compiles employee salary details, and,  a site that allows users to compare public universities, Cal Poly graduates and alumni make a starting median wage of $55,000 per year, more than schools like University of California, Berkeley (at $53,100), University of California, Los Angeles ($50,700) and University of California, Davis (at $49,000). Cal Poly graduates also make high mid-career salaries at $99,200 per year, though Berkeley and University of California, San Diego do make more at $109,000 and $99,700 respectively.

Joshua Clark, a 1997 Cal Poly agricultural engineering graduate and now an owner of Clark Vineyard Management in the Napa, Calif. area, said he did not feel he fell into the large salary statistic. However, he said his skills learned at Cal Poly helped him in his first job after graduating.

“I graduated in 1997 and went to work for a small family-run vineyard and management company,” Clark said. “My starting salary was $25,000 a year, but due to my skills and what I had learned from Cal Poly, I soon got a raise, and when I left the position in the end of the year in 1999, I was making $50,000 a year salary.”

Clark said he also thought Cal Poly graduates have the beneficial skills to be hired.

“I do absolutely think that Cal Poly grads are the most employable and readied people out there,” Clark said. “And the school’s practical training requirements make for more employable grads.”

Dr. Holly Hatton, a 2004 Cal Poly graduate in psychology and now a behavioral specialist at UC Davis, said she knew she was not going to make much money in general in her field when she got out of college.

“I knew that going into school it wouldn’t help me attain a higher level of income,” Hatton said. “I was making more money before undergraduate school than when I left.”

Even so, Hatton said the skills she attained from Cal Poly helped “spark (her) interest” in pursuing graduate school and a doctorate at UC Davis. Hatton also said the benefits she got from Cal Poly helped her get jobs after graduating, though her graduate schooling helped as well.

“I think what helped me from the internships I had,” Hatton said. “I got those internships because I was a student at Cal Poly. It gave me experiences to get the first position I had.”

Hatton said that because of the field she is in, she does not make as much money as other majors.

“It would be interesting for them to look based on the type of degree you’re graduating with and the field you’re going into,” she said. “I know some people who graduated from computer engineering, and this is talking five (or) six years ago, would leave and make quite a bit of money. Whereas, I got a full-time job making $35,000 a year starting out with a bachelor’s in what I was able to do with the compared to $65,000. I have a Ph.D. now, and I’m making $58,000.”

Hatton said also her experience at Cal Poly was a positive one.

“I’m really happy I went to (Cal Poly) and I had a really good experience with a lot of good teachers,” Hatton said.

Though the salary study does not address specific salaries for each job field, the top position Cal Poly has may bring students in looking for a worthwhile education that will benefit them in the long run.

Biological sciences freshman Alicia Brady said though she did not attend Cal Poly because of the salary statistic, but she thought it might encourage others to attend Cal Poly.

“I think it’s a good thing for Cal Poly,” Brady said.

Join the Conversation


  1. While the salary data is good news for Cal Poly and validates the Cal Poly educational approach, it should be mentioned that a bus driver in San Francisco, LA and other major cities has a starting salary of $65K. A fireman or prison guard starts at $76K and a cop at $80K. Added to this, many of these civil servants do not hold college degrees and will receive handsome pensions and benefits during and after working only 30 years.

    Students should think long and hard when it comes to election time because elected officials in the State have been aggressively backing public employee unions and their members. As such, they’ve created a very unfortunate circumstance whereby low level and low skilled civil servants are paid more than engineers, teachers and scientists.

    What does this mean? People are being encouraged “NOT” to get an education which does not bode well for the State’s economy due to its needs engineers and scientists to fuel primary industries such as high technology, agriculture, construction, finance and education.

  2. I’m sure if degree holders went for these jobs….

    Then again do individuals who choose to become teachers, policeman and prison guards want to forgo their desired jobs for “guaranteed” salaries, pensions etc. ?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.