Starting Salaries Are Going Up

HR & Safety

You may be surprised at how much

The 2016 Salary Guides from Robert Half reveal U.S. starting salaries for professional occupations are expected to increase an average of 4.1% next year. Among the five fields tracked, the technology sector is projected to see the greatest pay gains, with base salaries rising an average of 5.3%. Accounting and finance roles followed, with anticipated average compensation increases of 4.7%. The creative and administrative professions each registered projected starting salary gains of 3.8%, followed by the legal field, with average base pay expected to rise 3.1% in 2016.

“Organizations continue to compete fiercely for skilled talent, particularly in the areas of big data, compliance, and mobile applications development,” said Paul McDonald, Robert Half senior executive director. “Managers who keep current on the latest salary and hiring trends can create more attractive job offers and improve their retention efforts.”

When it comes to keeping the best and brightest, benchmarking compensation is essential, suggests research from Robert Half. Among more than 1,000 professionals polled, 83% said a bigger salary would be a top factor prompting them to move to another company. The research also revealed that it would take a 26% salary increase, on average, to compel employees to head for greener pastures.

Workers were asked, “Which of the following would most persuade you to move to another company?” Their responses (multiple responses allowed):

  • Bigger salary: 83%
  • More growth opportunities: 46%
  • Better work-life balance: 40%
  • Shorter commute: 33%
  • Better title: 20%
  • Other: 6%

The following is an overview of findings from the 2016 Salary Guides from Robert Half:

Accounting and Finance

Average starting salaries in accounting and finance are expected to rise 4.7% next year. Steady demand persists for professionals such as business systems analysts, staff accountants and financial analysts. Individuals with advanced technology skills, certifications, and specialized industry experience can command even higher salary increases.


Information technology professionals’ starting salaries are expected to increase 5.3% in 2016. Firms in a variety of industries seek big data engineers, mobile applications developers, and data security analysts to remain competitive, improve customer experience, and keep information secure. Wireless networking engineers will see the highest starting salary increase of all the positions included in the 2016 Salary Guides, with projected starting compensation levels rising 9.7% in the coming year.

Creative and Marketing

Creative and marketing staff can expect average starting salary gains of 3.8% next year. Content strategy and mobile development roles are in particularly high demand as organizations focus heavily on initiatives that enable them to connect with customers anytime and anywhere.

Administrative and Office Support

Overall starting salaries for administrative professionals are expected to rise 3.8% in the coming year. As business picks up, firms are bringing on administrative staff to keep things on track, and seek human resources workers to assist with hiring and retention. In addition, continued changes in the healthcare industry are resulting in greater demand for those in coding and customer-facing roles.


In the legal field, next year’s starting salaries are anticipated to rise 3.1%. Increased litigation is driving up demand for lawyers and paralegals with backgrounds in insurance defense, commercial litigation, and medical malpractice. Commercial law and compliance are particularly strong areas for legal hiring.

To access the complete 2016 Salary Guides: along with calculators that adjust salary ranges for local markets: click here.

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