What’s the expected salary for your degree?

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By in Jobs & Careers. Updated April 2015.

A guide to current salaries for entry-level graduate jobs dependent on degree discipline. Arm yourself with this knowledge to avoid undervaluing yourself!
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Plenty of graduates have a tough time getting a job in their chosen field, but the opportunities are out there! The question is, what should you expect to be paid in your first year of work?

Cue our guide to graduate starting salaries, first separated into the main degree areas followed by a full table of degree subjects.


A Humanities degree is generally considered to be one of the most difficult disciplines to get a job with.  If you don’t want to be a teacher, you probably want to get into media and those lucky enough to get a job in this industry can expect to earn anywhere from £7 an hour, to £22,000 a year as a starting salary.

In Publishing, graduates usually begin as Editorial Assistants and can expect to earn in the range of £14,000 to £20,000. In house Copy Editors start on a similar salary of £18,000.

In Film and Television, most graduates will be forced to start at the very bottom of the media food chain as a Runner.  The average starting salary (if you are actually getting paid) is approximately £7-£8 per hour with no reason for it to increase since competition for these positions is fierce.

Once you get past the position of a Runner, the entry-level position of a Researcher offers a salary of around £22,000 in London, or £18,500 anywhere else. If you want to become a  Journalist, expect to earn anywhere between £15,000 and £22,000 in your first year.


Like Humanities, the graduate job market for Art graduates isn’t great at the moment. For those wanting to get into Creative arts (eg. crafts, cultural heritage, design, music, performing and visual arts) expect a salary of less than £20,000 for your time.

However, many artists choose to start their own businesses or work freelance, presenting a variable income which often needs additional support from a part-time job. This can drop salaries to around £10,000.

For becoming an Art Teacher, see below.


Primary school teachers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland start on the main salary scale of £21,588, rising each year to £31,552

In Secondary schools, teachers start on £21,588. If you want to earn more, Distant Learning Allowances of £1,782 and Remote Schools Allowances of £1,074 to £2,010 are granted to those teaching in the Highlands and Islands.

Those who stick it out in education to become Lecturers will be rewarded for their hard work with an impressive salary of between £30,500 and £40,000+.


If you get the right grades at school, an engineering degree often leads to a well-paid job at the end of university.

A Chemical Engineer can earn £25,136 in their first job, while Civil Engineers generally earn around £22,000.

Life Sciences

If you want to be a Research Scientist, expect a starting salary between £16,500 and £22,000 at a Technician level which rises to up to £27,500 for Research Assistants.

Similarly, the starting salary for a Clinical Scientist in the NHS is around £25,000 at a Band 6 level, while Biomedical Scientists start at Band 5 and earn from £20,710 – £26,839. Remember, in the NHS it is always possible to go up Band levels as your skills and experience increase.

Maths (Accountancy)

Salaries for Accountancy vary considerably depending on location, size of company and specialisation. The national average starting salaries range from £26,000 – £29,000.

Graduates who enter Banking can earn an average starting salary of £27,500, with students entering investment banks expected to earn an average salary of £38,000.


Graduates with a degree in Adult Nursing start their career as a Band 5 on the NHS pay scale, granting them a starting salary of £21,176.

Junior doctors who go into General Practice (GP) are paid a supplement based on the intensity of work and the hours worked, which may amount to an average salary of £33,000 in the first year.

The wage of Hospital Doctors is worked out in the same way. Junior doctors in their first year of the postgraduate foundation training earn a minimum of £22,190.


Law is generally considered to be a degree which offers a high income job after university. However, starting salaries are generally the same as other professions.

Trainee solicitors in England and Wales earn a minimum salary of £18,590 in central London and £16,650 elsewhere. In Scotland, The Law Society recommends that trainee solicitors earn £15,500 in the first year, rising to £18,550 in the second. In Northern Ireland, apprentices earn between £10,600 and £18,000, depending on the stage of their training.

Pupil barristers in England and Wales earn at least £10,000 a year, which can rise to £40,000, depending on who you work for. In Scotland, intending advocates are unpaid during their 10-month training period, so you might want to start saving before graduation.

Starting salary for each degree

Search for your subject in the table below. If it’s not included, give us a shout in the comments below and we’ll do the research and add it.

Just be aware that these are only average starting salaries and they will change over time. It also depends a lot on what career path you take so make the most of your degree.

Degree SubjectExpected Graduate Salary (£)
Accounting & Finance21,551
Art & Design17,300
Business Studies21,007
Chemical Engineering27,151
Civil Engineering23,720
Classics & Ancient History20,869
Computer Science21,712
Mechanical Engineering24,337
Media Studies17,358
Pharmacology 20,059
Religious Studies21,794
Social Work24,630

*This data represents average figures based on statistics from the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, correct as of March 2013.

Important take-aways…

Although these incomes vary between degree disciplines, it’s important to remember that there is no point earning £40,000 a year as a barrister if you don’t enjoy doing it. Pick your job according to your passion and if you work hard enough at it, you will end up with a healthy salary!

Also, remember that anything is possible. You choose your job and you can choose to learn other disciplines. If you strive to be the best within any sector that you choose to work in then you could earn well above these averages.

A good place to start on looking for a graduate job is our graduate scheme deadlines list. Also, if you are worried about not reaching the grades or don’t know what a graduate scheme involves then see our graduate schemes guide for the low-down.

UK Graduate Careers Survey, High Fliers Research.
Creative and Cultural Skills, Impact and Footprint.

Leave a comment

8 Responses to “What’s the expected salary for your degree?”

  1. sue

    29. Jul, 2015

    What are the basic salaries for the following jobs please,
    Level 3 qualified Hairstylist.
    Hairdressing teacher. With a PGCE certificate.
    BA Hons degree student in Housing.
    Finally in Public services,

    • Jake Butler

      30. Jul, 2015

      Can’t be sure on those ones I’m afraid.

  2. sandeep

    18. Dec, 2014

    this is per month or annum computer science?

    • Jake Butler

      18. Dec, 2014

      All the values are per annum.

  3. Lucy

    27. Feb, 2014

    It’s Veterinary not Vetinary … although interesting to read :)

    • Jake Butler

      27. Feb, 2014

      Thanks Lucy, we’ve updated it now 😉

  4. Andrew

    14. Dec, 2013

    Scotland has been on the same salary scale as England for more than a decade.

    • Jake Butler

      17. Dec, 2013

      Thanks Andrew, after further research we can see that you are indeed correct. Article is now updates :)

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