Average Salaries: How do Massachusetts College Grads compare?

Median Salary for Alumni

A new tool released by the federal government, College Scorecard, details the average earnings (and more) for attendees of nearly every college and university in the United States. The site uses students’ federal financial aid records and federal tax returns to determine their salaries ten years after they first enrolled. Data from 70 Massachusetts schools—ranging from small, private universities to larger, state-funded institutions—shows an average salary of around $49,000.

computer-laptop-coolege-blackboardNational Trends and Surprises

Although the tool reveals some trends that are already well-known to many (e.g., the salary of someone who attended a medical school will likely be higher than that of someone who attended an art school), it also sheds light on some new information. Some of this information is darker than we’d like. For example, less than 50% of those who attended college ten years ago currently make more than $25,000 a year. This figure falls right around the average salary of those with only a high school diploma. We will add, however, that the site includes data for those who attended college; whether or not a person graduated (and what type of college they attended) are not considered.


Median Income for MA Alumni Above National Average

Massachusetts’ average of $49,000 is significantly higher than the national average of $34,343. MCPHS University, of Boston, is at the top of the list, with an average post-attendance salary of $116,400; MIT trails with an average of $91,600. Even those who attended Pine Manor College, which sits near the bottom of our list, make an average of $34,700 a year.

Are the Costs Actually Outweighing Benefits?

At first, the statistics in the previous section read like phenomenal news . . . and to some degree, that’s exactly what they are. Still, it may be best to take the data with a grain of salt. We should consider not only the average alumni salary, but also the average cost of attendance—a school that costs too much may not be worth its payout. College Scorecard shows that attending The Boston Conservatory, for example, can cost about $43,952 a year (after federal aid), yet after ten years, its alumni make an average of $27,500. The illustrious Harvard University, even, boasting an average alumni salary of $87,200, can cost nearly $70,000 per year to attend. Some students in MA and nationwide simply aren’t seeing the return on investment they had originally expected.

costs-of-college-worth-itUnequal Benefits of College Education

As mentioned earlier, the type of degree a person pursues has a huge effect on their salary. Engineering, medical studies, and computer sciences have long been the most lucrative majors; education, human services, and the arts carry the stigma of providing lower salaries. However, these days, students enrolled in lower-paying programs are paying as much (or more than) students on the track to those higher-paying positions.

The Department of Education continues to investigate the severity of student loan debt, as it seems to spike higher and higher each year. That being said, there are tools out there to help students cope with their debt. Resources like College Scorecard will also help determine what school—if any—will be the best match for each student.

Did you attend higher education ten or more years ago? Does the data for your college or university line up? What other information would you like to see included on College Scorecard? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

Massachusetts Contract Manufacturer Helps Urban Garden Get Off the Ground

At the heart of every great business, from two-man start-ups in the garage to Fortune 500 giants, is one common factor: a great idea. But for many start-ups, that great idea may be all they have. While small businesses provide the opportunity and flexibility for innovation, many of these organizations lack the resources to move beyond the prototype stages. Too many brilliant ideas have been waylaid by simple logistical errors that could be avoided through partnership with an established contract manufacturer—especially one that is well versed in the needs of small businesses.

It was at this crucial juncture, moving from prototype and proposal to market-ready production, that the environmentally-focused Massachusetts start-up Freight Farms stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. By partnering with an established manufacturer like Columbia Tech they were granted access to world class facilities and years of experience—something most small businesses only gain over years of trial and error.

Freight FarmsThe Freight Farms model is simple: a repurposed 40-ft freight container is converted into a self-contained, modular environment for growing fresh vegetables in any locale, regardless of climate or available resources. On paper this idea might even look easy, but the challenge the project developers faced was daunting. How would they build containers at a rate that satisfied demand and remained profitable? How would the ‘farm-in-a-box’ be transported to its final destination?

While the project founders knew these concerns existed, they were focused on the big picture of creating a sustainable food source that could eventually reduce or eliminate world hunger. An ambitious task, but with these intimidating goals in mind, they turned to Columbia Tech’s expert teams, who helped them standardize production at maximum efficiency. Utilizing a contract manufacturer helped Freight Farms sidestep the delays that accompany building a new production facility, allowing them to move rapidly from concept, to prototype, to market.  By selecting a partner that had a strong background in container-based manufacturing, the Freight Farms team could keep their focus on the product and rely on the experience of Columbia Tech to guide them through the sometimes arduous process of turning their great idea into reality.

Massachusetts Lighting Company Doubles LED Sales

Everyone knows that Massachusetts is a hotbed for companies in fields like biotech, research and development, medical device manufacturing, and… lighting…. uh, wait… whut?

That’s right, there is a rapidly expanding market for cost-effective, energy-efficient, commercial lighting products, and companies like Worcester’s Access Fixtures are positioning themselves accordingly. In fact, as evidence of what can only be described as explosive growth, Access Fixtures recently announced they have already experienced more than a two-fold increase in their year-over-year sales of LED-based lighting.

While the vast majority of Access Fixtures LED product sales are new luminaires, CEO Steven Rothschild says the company has also seen a noticeable increase in sales of LED retrofit kits for commercial wall packs and bollards, indicating an increase in the number of property managers who are updating their existing luminaires from other sources to LED. “As prices fall and efficacy increases, property managers realize the value achieved by a lower energy cost and reduced or eliminated maintenance,” said Rothschild. He continued, “The high volume we’ve been experiencing also allows us to reduce our overall cost of materials, which is one of the reasons we can sell an LED-equipped bollard for $239.99 and LED wallpacks from $99.00.

Access Fixtures’ extensive lineup of interior and exterior lighting fixtures includes products for sports, commercial, industrial, residential and hospitality applications. Luminaire types include wall packs, area lights, bollards, garage lighters, vandal resistant, exit and emergency, high bay, low bay, linear fluorescent, track lighting and grow light fixtures.

With companies like Access Fixtures leading the way, Massachusetts is rapidly becoming known for something other than Cape Cod, cranberries, and biotech. Our lighting industry is also starting to cast a long shadow.


Massachusetts a Leader in LEED-certified Construction

For the third consecutive year, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ranks among the U.S. Green Building Council‘s Top 10 in the US.

The rankings consider sustainable building design, construction, restoration and rehabilitation and, in terms of square feet per capita, Massachusetts is fifth-best in the country for projects that adhere to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, adding 99 LEED-certified projects last year.

The top four states, from bottom to top, are: Virginia, Maryland, Colorado, and Illinois.

Matthew Beaton, the state’s Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary, said that the ranking was an endorsement of Massachusetts’s requirement that all new construction and major renovations meet the state’s LEED Plus green building standard. “Clean energy is yielding significant economic benefits with 10.5 percent job growth in the last year and 47 percent growth since 2010,” said Beaton.

The standard demands that energy performance for the new or renovated building be at least 20 percent better than the state’s building energy code, that the outdoor water consumption must be reduced by at least 50 percent, and that the indoor water consumption be reduced by at least 20 percent. In addition, principles of smart growth and smart energy must be promoted.

Presently, there are 37 LEED-certified buildings in the state, with 70 percent of them certified either gold or platinum.

Beaton said in a statement, “This recognition is another example of Massachusetts’ commitment to strengthening our economy, shaping our energy future and protecting our environment through clean jobs and technology.”

The numbers bear those comments out, with almost 6,000 clean energy-related businesses in Massachusetts, employing a total of over 88,000 workers.

Beaton also pointed out that Massachusetts was again – for the fourth consecutive year – named by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy as the top state in the country in energy efficiency.

Eight Tips About Holiday Networking

As the holiday season approaches, professional holiday parties will also begin sprouting up. This is the perfect time to begin perfect your networking skill set.

Here are a few ways in which you can master holiday networking and take new connections with you into the new year!


17737-business-man-hand-pv1. Go empty-handed. Your hands need to be free for handing out business cards, taking down notes and phone numbers, and shaking hands. Leave your cell phone, coat, and brief case somewhere else.

Office+Mate+Wall+Clock2. Arrive early. The earlier you can communicate with people, the better. Keep in mind that people don’t want to talk business when that’s all they’ve been doing for the past few hours.

free_corporate_business_card_3_by_pixeden-d45d0ua3. Remember your business cards. There’s no reason not to have a stack of business cards on hand at a networking event. Don’t forget them.

2722635443_177dae870b_b4. Keep the name badge to your right side. Because you will likely shake hands with your right hand at all times, you want your badge to stay on that side. It will be more noticeable when you extend your hand!

8220357873_2f0af0ce6d_z5. Don’t stay with the same people. No matter how intense or interesting the conversation is, move on to new people every so often.

6970660314_f9a835f9f0_b6. Stay interested. Rather than spending your time answering questions, try asking them. Maintain eye contact and don’t let your eyes wander around the room during a conversation.

326205483_138ba5f747_z7. Lay off the alcohol consumption. It might seem obvious, but keep the drinking to a minimum. Even though alcohol might be present at the party, you must still remember you’re making a lasting impression on many of the people there. Avoid drinking altogether, but if you must do so, alternate water or other non-alcoholic beverages between drinks.

Cisco_phone8. Follow up! What’s the sense in going to a holiday business party if you don’t follow up? Catch up with your new connections on LinkedIn or shoot them an email within two days after the party.

Above all, remember to have fun at your holiday event! If you’re having fun, the chances are high that other people are too.

Massachusetts Receives $327,000 in AT&T Settlement

Class Action Case No. CV-09-1529 SI never went to court. The two sides – the Federal Trade Commission and AT&T – settled in October, 2014. AT&T, the largest mobile phone service provider in the nation, agreed to pay $105 million for unauthorized cell phone charges in a practice known as “mobile cramming.”

Cramming is when a phone company charges fees for services neither ordered nor requested by the customer. In AT&T’s case, mobile phone customers were charged up to $9.99 per month for third-party wallpapers, ringtones, horoscope text messages, celebrity gossip, and other crumbs of seemingly free information. In the industry, these are called “Premium SMS content.”

Monthly AT&T bills allegedly hid the charges as part of the total balance. They were listed under the nebulous category, “AT&T Monthly Subscriptions,” giving no hint of their third-party status. The Federal Trade Commission alleged that AT&T pocketed 35 percent of the third-party monthly charges.

“Mobile cramming is a major problem that continues to harm consumers in Massachusetts,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. In 2011 alone, AT&T received approximately $1.3 million customer complaints about the extra fees. The company ended the practice in 2013.

Massachusetts received $327,000 as part of the case settlement. Under terms of the agreement, AT&T must open an $80 million fund, administered by the Federal Trade Commission, to refund customers who were targets of cramming. Customers can request free billing summaries from January 2005 to January 2013 to check for third-party charges, and they are eligible for 100 percent repayment.

“This case underscores the important fact that basic consumer protections – including that consumers should not be billed for charges they did not authorize — are fully applicable in the mobile environment,” said Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

AT&T is the first major phone service carrier to enter a national settlement involving mobile cramming practices. Negotiations with T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint for alleged similar practices are ongoing.

Worcester, MA Ranked Among Nation’s Worst for Small Business

Popular Science writer George Iles once said that hope is like faith holding out its hand in the dark. That is pretty much how the small business community of Worcester feels after two recent surveys. One of the surveys, which was conducted by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in partnership with professional services directory thumbtack.com, indicates that small business owners in Worcester feel that their city is not very friendly when it comes to enterprise and industry.

The gloomy sentiment of the Worcester small business community adds fuel to the fire portrayed in early July by NerdWallet.com, a website dedicated to the technical study of personal finance. NerdWallet.com analyzed Census data to grade 62 cities in Massachusetts in terms of median income growth, demographics and employment figures, and the findings for Worcester do not paint a pretty picture. Whereas Bay State cities such as Westfield and Newton seem to be doing pretty well, Worcester is near the bottom of the list.

How These Surveys May Affect the Business Outlook

Although it may be safe to assume that business owners in Worcester are still hopeful that things will improve in the future, seeing the publication of surveys such as the two mentioned above certainly does not help the cause. Two main reactions can be expected from these surveys, and the most sensible would be for city officials and business leaders to take a good look at the data and work on turning things around. The other reaction would be more capitalistic and devastating for Worcester: Business owners migrate to Newton or other cities where the grass is greener.

Unfortunately, negative economic surveys tend to impact a city’s future in a negative way by discouraging small business growth. A living example of this situation is Detroit, a city that seems to go deeper into recession as a stream of negative reports are published. A more pragmatic and business-minded way to handle negative reports would be to exit the city, particularly if the data offers little to be hopeful about.

Are Employee-Owned Companies the Future of Business in MA?

Boston-based Harpoon Brewery announced last week that 48% of the company will be sold back to its employees by August 1st, forming an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) that will act as a trust for all of Harpoon Brewery’s employees. Harpoon is one of the larger craft breweries and, with a steady annual growth of 12%, is expanding market share across the country.

Co-founder Dan Kenary said that the option to sell back to the employees is a “great fit for our industry” and “will build camaraderie among the employees.” He went on to say that Harpoon has “[…] always been about inclusion and community,” which seems to be an attitude shared by many ESOP’s in Massachusetts.

William DiBenedetto, President & CEO of Lampin Corporation, a precision machine shop and manufacturer of high-performance gearboxes located in Uxbridge, MA, is leading a very successful 100% ESOP. He says, “Lampin’s employee-owners are motivated and empowered to help both the company and our customers succeed.” He went on to say that this “[…] includes not only the daily activity out there on the production floor, but out in the community as well. As employee-owners, we have the truly good fortune to be able to direct community support in directions that make an impact on our local economy and the industry in which we work. We take full advantage of our ESOP culture of INCLUSION and allow it to extend beyond our factory to our supply chain partners, customers and our community.”

Harpoon’s Kenary said that, as part of the process of deciding whether or not to sell shares of the company to the employees, he consulted with other companies in New England that had undergone a similar process. It didn’t take too long before it became clear that inclusion of employees in the ownership of a company can significantly impact efficiency and productivity. It seems that, from an employee’s perspective, being included in a company’s financial reward for success can be an amazing motivator! (Who knew?!)

So, the question remains… will employee-owned companies account for a significant portion of the marketplace anytime soon? That remains to be seen, but it doesn’t sound unlikely.

Has the Massachusetts Economy Turned the Corner?

With one of the worst hit economies in the United States during the banking crisis of 2008, Massachusetts has had a long slog of it during recent years. However, certain statistics seem to indicate that the economy of the state is turning around.

Currently under 6%, Massachusetts has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States.

Venture capital investment in the state of Massachusetts was also higher in the second quarter 2014 compared year-over-year with 2013. The total amount invested around the state topped $1 billion.

The business real estate market in Boston is also becoming quite scarce, with the retail sector leading the charge.

In most cases, this would seem to signal a turnaround. However, because of the performance of the state in past years, one might state that this is simply back to normal for Massachusetts. Many economic experts also argue that the improvement in the economy is focused on those in the top 1% of the community of Massachusetts, with middle and lower class people seeing very little improvement in their lives.

Before the 2008 crisis hit, Massachusetts was one of the most productive states in the United States. The statistics that are being shown now do not necessarily reflect a healthy Massachusetts, but instead of Massachusetts that is still recovering. As home to some of the most successful industries in the world, the economy of the state of Massachusetts still seems to have a long way to go in order to achieve its true potential.

Massachusetts Tax Holiday – Setting Up for Boom or Bust?

A two day tax holiday is being promoted in Massachusetts in an attempt to increase sales and drive the economy. It is the belief of many, both in government and in the business community, that this small break in taxes will increase sales and be beneficial to the economy. However, not all business owners are sure if they are in favor of this type of tax holiday. Many believe that this will encourage consumers to delay purchases and will skew inventory tracking.

Benefits Of A Tax Holiday

The main benefit of this type of tax holiday is the psychological impact it will have on consumers. Consumers feel they are being given a break by not having to pay taxes and will increase their purchases on those days. Some proponents here in Massachusetts point to Florida businesses having been so successful that the state has increased their back-to-school tax holiday to 10 days and now have a tax holiday for hurricane supplies at the end of May each year. Businesses have been able to easily adjust their inventory levels and have benefited from the increased sales.

Drawbacks Of A Tax Holiday

In some cases, consumers delay making larger purchases until there is a tax holiday. This delay can disrupt regular inventory and alter sales cycles. Many businesses can counteract this issue by either running promotions prior to the holiday to make purchases more enticing, or run large promotions coinciding with the tax holidays to boost sales. And, of course, any reduction in tax revenues – however temporary – can cause problems with the budget further on down the road.
Overall, the changes that take place in inventory and sales figures during the implementation of a tax holiday can quickly be overcome during future tax holidays. Businesses are encouraged to take advantage of the data they generate during this type of event and plan for the future.