What’s the expected salary for your degree?
When it comes to choosing your degree, should you follow your heart or the dollar signs? Our guide to graduate starting salaries can help you make the call.
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The question on every soon-to-be graduate’s lips: What will I be earning when I land my first job? No need to start trudging through job sites to find the answer – we’ve got everything you need to know right here!
The current average starting salary for UK graduates is a fairly robust £25,000, but we’ve also heard folk reporting anything between £16,000 and £70,000!
As you can tell from these figures, there are so many factors that affect how fat your wage packet will be – the company that hires you, the industry you end up in, even the city you’re based in, just to name a few. However, it’s always good to be aware of the possibilities your degree might bring before you enter the big bad world of employment.
If you’re a recent graduate currently on a job hunt, note that employers often want to know how much you think you’re worth. This article will ensure you don’t sell yourself short: arm yourself with these ballpark figures and don’t be afraid to ask for more if you think, in the words of L’Oreal, you’re worth it!
Read on to find out the going rate for graduate careers below, or if you’d like to know what students went on to earn by the university degree subjects they studied, skip to our table of salaries by degree subjects.
What’s the going rate?
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How much could your degree earn you?
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As you probably already know if art is your thing, the graduate job market for Art students isn’t flush with cash. For those wanting to get into Creative Arts (design, music, and performing or visual arts) salaries vary vastly but will generally always be less than £19,000, though which industry you work in could make a considerable difference.
A typical starting salary for a Museum Curator is around £16,000, but with potential to earn top dollar later in your career.
Going for a more digital art approach has the potential to offer you a higher salary. Graphic and digital designers and are much in demand these days due to everything shifting online, meaning a graduate salary could be anything between £17,000 – £23,000.
A first salary in Retail Management will likely be in the range of £12,000-£22,000, but some graduate training schemes pay handsomely for impressive candidates. Budget supermaket chain Aldi is a go-to for its grad scheme, which pays £42,000 in the first year. If that doesn’t quite do it for you, they’ll throw in a car, too!
A career in HR will see you start on more like £25,000, while Marketers can expect anything between £18,000 and £32,000.
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Your career path will depend on what you specialise in, but IT industries are on the up and offer heaps of choice: programming, front and backend development, systems analysis, web design, UX design, online security, games and apps – the list really is endless.
Starting salaries vary so much for this type of work as the roles are so varied, but typically they’ll be within the £18,000-£28,000 range. It’s worth mentioning that despite this average, graduates have reported receiving anything from £16,000 to £70,000 in IT roles!
There are tonnes of ways of getting into teaching right now, many of which are generously funded.
Starting salaries for qualified Teachers in England and Wales are around £22,244 (£27,819 in inner London). In Scotland you’ll start on probationary pay of £21,438.
While Graduate Recruitment Bureau peg first salaries for Engineers between £16,000-£21,000, subject specialism can double your bundle.
Graduates of Chemical Engineering report earning between £25,000 and £30,000 in their first job, while Civil Engineers say they nabbed between £21,000 and an eye-watering £38,000.
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Humanities degrees are fairly flexible when it comes to job hunting. On the one hand, you may not be sure quite what you’re going to do when you graduate – but on the other, a bank of transferable skills means Media, Marketing, Teaching and other industries are all yours for the picking.
Starting salaries in Publishing & Journalism are around £12,000-£18,000, and you’re typically expected to start at the bottom and work your way through the ranks. Unpaid internships are rife, but postgrad or in-house training could help you net a better starting position. There’s scope for freelancing, too, especially in writing and editing – see the National Union of Journalists to get an idea of rates.
The bottom rung in Film and Television work is as a Runner: average starting pay (if you get any, that is) is around £7-£8 per hour, with no reason for it to increase since competition is fierce. Training towards a specific career – in radio, theatre, production, cinematography, or broadcast journalism – can get you a better deal. Have a look at BECTU (the UK’s media union), or big players such as the BBC, for training and apprenticeship opps.
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It’s easy to think of Law as a quick win for your pay packet, but the reality is that starting salaries vary massively. At the most competitive firms, you could get between £22,000 and £42,000 as a Trainee Solicitor. Elsewhere, £16,000 to £30,000 is the going average.
Pupil Barristers in England and Wales earn at least £12,000 a year, which can rise to £40,000 and above, depending on who you work for. In Scotland, advocates are unpaid for most of the first year – so you might want to start saving before you graduate!
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The starting salary for a Clinical Scientist in the NHS is around £26,000 at Band 6 on the NHS pay scale, while Biomedical Scientists start at Band 5 and earn from £21,692.
Remember, in the NHS it’s always possible to go up Band levels as your skills and experience increase.
Salaries for Accountancy vary considerably depending on location, size of company and specialisation, with starting salaries averaging £20,000-£25,000 (some graduates have reported earning anything between £17,000 and £50,000 in their first job).
Graduates who enter Banking may not get kudos, but they certainly get the bucks, starting off between £18,000-£29,000, or £30,000 and up in investment banking.
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If you think Medicine is always the fast track to a fat wallet, you may be in for a shock: starting salaries are often no greater than for Humanities careers. However, you’re likely to be able to earn more faster, plus have access to better leave, sick pay and other job benefits. The big money is in specialising, but either way, the further training required can be hard-going and for the long haul.
Graduates going into Adult Nursing start at Band 5 on the NHS pay scale, giving them a starting salary of £21,692.
Junior doctors in their first year of postgrad foundation training earn a minimum of £22,636 (boosted to £28,076 by Foundation Year 2). Doctors training for a speciality earn a basic salary of between £30,002 and £47,175.
Newly qualified dentists who want to work in the NHS undertake Dental Foundation Training for a year, for which they get paid £30,132.
In Veterinary Medicine, starting salaries are around £26,000 and up.
Starting salary by degree
To flesh out the typical salaries above, we’ve collated a list of how much graduates actually went on to earn on average, regardless of which industry they ended up in.
Don’t forget that your earnings will increase with experience. It also depends a lot on what career path you take – so make the most of your degree and scope out further training requirements and grad schemes early on.
|Degree Subject||Average Graduate Salary (£)|
|Accounting & Finance||£27,149|
|Art (creative, visual, performance)||£19,000|
|Classics & Ancient History||£21,667|
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It’s true that some degree disciplines lead to big money faster than others – but don’t get too hung up on it.
There’s no point earning £40,000 a year if it involves you savouring loo breaks as an escape from the mindless monotony. Choose something you’re passionate about (or at least vaguely enjoy) instead and you’ll be more likely to stick at it, work harder, and be open to new opportunities – all routes to a healthy salary!
Don’t judge your future career (or any of your choices, for that matter!) on money alone. Success could be owning your own business, travelling the world or anything in between. Keep your eyes on the prize and not the price tag, and you’ll find your jam. Good luck!