The Economic Impact of Virginia Tech Graduates

By Preston Huennekens | September 28
The Economic Impact of Virginia Tech Graduates

What is the economic impact of Virginia Tech graduates in cities across the country, and what does that say about Virginia Tech as a university? It is a question often overlooked by high school students and families when beginning their college search. It is, after all, far easier to just look at the college rankings by groups like US News and World Report (#74) or the Wall Street Journal (#109). Even major-specific rankings, such as Industrial Systems Engineering (#6) do not present an accurate picture of Virginia Tech’s economic impact once the degree is in hand.

The university commissions surveys of each class six months after graduation in an effort to ascertain what they are doing after leaving Blacksburg. That report, titled “First Destination After Undergraduate Degree,” highlights in great detail the first jobs that Hokies take after commencement.

Starting Salaries

Monwy
Source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/8556b101-040b-44fd-973f-5c9a829f8060

Broadly, Virginia Tech graduates do pretty well for themselves following graduation. The 2018-2019 report indicates 63 percent are working full-time while 17 percent are continuing their education. Six months out, only 16 percent of graduates were still actively searching for a job. The median reported salary across the university was $61,800 - well above the national median of $35,977 and on par with reports from similar universities. In the same year, the University of Virginia’s outcome report listed a median reported salary of $64,000, despite their US News and World Report’s overall ranking of UVa as the 26th best university in America (VT was 74th).

As we’ll see later, many Hokie graduates end up working for employers based in Virginia. The Census Bureau reported that the median household income in Virginia in 2018 was $71,564. Keep in mind that this is household income - including households and families with two or more people working. That the median starting salary for a single Virginia Tech graduate only six months removed from college is $61,800 is a testament to the strength of the degree.

Where do Hokies work?

Rosslyn
Source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/f0172202-d64e-4a3b-9312-814c5c1c4679

Virginia Tech’s report lists where the respondents live, work, and contribute to their city and state GDP, but does not provide total statewide tallies of that information. In the tables below, I’ve compiled the lists of the top 10 states that Hokie graduates worked in following commencement. Please note that this is a sample of the graduating class and does not reflect the total population of those who graduated. That said, Virginia Tech reports that 55 percent of the class responded to the survey, so it is highly representative. The figures for median household income come from the U.S. Census Bureau.

State

Number

Share

Med. Household Income

Virginia

1,126

50.7%

$71,564

D.C.

152

6.8%

$82,604

North Carolina

121

5.4%

$52,413

Maryland

115

5.2%

$81,868

New York

77

3.5%

$65,323

California

66

3.0%

$71,228

Texas

65

2.5%

$59,570

Florida

55

2.5%

$53,267

Georgia

46

2.1%

$55,679

Washington

41

1.8%

$70,116

Right off the bat, we see that Hokie graduates congregate mainly in the I-95 corridor and particularly in the states between North Carolina and Maryland, where over 68 percent work. An outright majority work in Virginia. Hokies work in states with some of the highest household incomes in the country. Importantly, Hokie graduates - at entry-level salaries - earn close to parity with household incomes in the rest of the state and, in some cases (North Carolina, Texas, Florida, and Georgia), eclipse them.

The Economic Impact of Virginia Tech Graduates

Vt nova
Source: https://vt.edu/innovationcampus/News/2019/June/innovation-campus-location.html

The economic impact of Virginia Tech as an entity is enormous, with the university itself generating millions of dollars in the region and hiring thousands of employees across the state. The university recently announced plans to build new facilities in the Northern Virginia region, including the construction of a new Innovation Campus in National Landing adjacent to the Amazon HQ2.

The economic impact of Virginia Tech’s graduates is harder to measure, and hardly possible to capture in a simple blog post. But a few facts are clear. Virginia Tech graduates continue earning high median salaries in their entry-level jobs, and that median salary continues to grow. The 2014-2015 class median was $58,000 before growing to the most recent figure of $61,800 in the 2018-2019 class. As median salaries continue rising for Virginia Tech graduates, Hokie alumni will continue positively affecting the communities that they live and work in.

Preston Huennekens

Preston Huennekens

Following in the footsteps of my dad and uncle, my dream growing up was to attend Virginia Tech for college. When it came time to choose what school to attend, the choice was clear. I enrolled in Blacksburg in the fall of 2012 and graduated in 2016 with a degree in Political Science. While at Virginia Tech, I was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and a fundraiser at the Student Calling Center, which I still maintain is the best on-campus job because you do not work weekends.


I now live and work in Washington, DC doing swamp-creature things, but I'm always planning my next trip to Blacksburg.

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