Jobs & Careers

What’s the average graduate 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.
Get the highest graduate salaryCredit: William Warby – Flickr

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 graduate salary in the UK is just shy of £23,000, but we've also heard folk reporting everything 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 the 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.

Once you've worked out what your starting salary could be, use our student loans repayment calculator to find out your monthly repayments (and whether you'll even have to pay everything back before it's wiped!).

What's the going rate?

Newspaper job searchCredit: kate hiscock – Flickr

Art (creative, visual & performance)

community_artCredit: UFV – Flickr
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 the average figure is £19,600 – though which industry you work in could make a considerable difference.

A typical starting salary for a Museum Curator is around £18,000, 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.

Business, Marketing & Management

Businessman crossing finish lineBusiness and Management degrees can open up doors to some seriously well-paid careers in Accountancy or Investment Banking. You've also got options in Marketing, Media, HR and Retail Management.

A first salary in Retail Management will likely be in the range of £17,000-£22,000, but some graduate training schemes pay handsomely for impressive candidates. Budget supermarket 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 £24,000, while Marketers can expect an starting salary of £21,565.

Computer Science

computer geekCredit: Vishpool – Flickr
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 £25,000 range. It's worth mentioning that despite this average, graduates have reported receiving anything from £17,000 to £70,000 in IT roles!


educateThere 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 £22,467 (£28,098 in inner London). In Scotland you'll start on probationary pay of £22,194.


Multimedia journalist
While Graduate Recruitment Bureau peg first salaries for General Engineers is £27,157, subject specialism can make a difference to your salary. 

Graduates of Chemical Engineering earn an average of £28,600 in their first job, while Civil Engineers nab an average starting salary of £25,500.


humanitiesCredit: Rob Walsh – Flickr
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, MarketingTeaching and other industries are all yours for the picking.

Starting salaries in Publishing & Journalism are around £19,000-£23,000 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.


lawyerCredit: Sarah Deer – Flickr
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, £17,000 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!

Life Sciences

Crazy doctorCredit: Murray Barnes – Flickr
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 £20,624.

Remember, in the NHS it's always possible to go up Band levels as your skills and experience increase.

 Banking and Accountancy

Haha BankingSalaries for Accountancy vary considerably depending on location, size of company and specialisation, with starting salaries averaging £23,180 (although graduates have reported earning anything between £17,000 and £50,000 in their first job).

Graduates who enter Banking may have to put up with a lot of jip, but they certainly get the bucks, as a report this year revealed investment bankers starting off with an average salary of £45,000!


doctorCredit: Jeff Eaton – flickr
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 £22,840.

Junior doctors in their first year of postgrad foundation training earn a minimum of £26,350 (boosted to £30,500 by Foundation Year 2). Doctors training for a speciality earn a basic salary of between £36,100 and £45,750.

Newly qualified dentists who want to work in the NHS undertake Dental Foundation Training for a year, for which they get paid £30,432.

In Veterinary Medicine, starting salaries average at £26,872.

It's worth joining (free) the Graduate Recruitment Bureau – they'll help you get the job you want for the salary you deserve.

Graduate 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.

Don't forget!

Once you've found your starting salary, try using our student loan repayment calculator to find out how much of your loan you'll pay back before it gets wiped!

Degree SubjectAverage Graduate Salary
Accounting & Finance£23,180
Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering£25,588
Agriculture & Forestry£20,696
American Studies£20,618
Anatomy & Physiology£21,988
Art & Design£19,669
Aural & Oral Sciences£23,658
Biological Sciences£20,624
Business & Management Studies£23,952
Celtic Studies£19,793
Chemical Engineering£28,603
Civil Engineering£25,550
Classics & Ancient History£22,460
Communication & Media Studies£19,258
Complementary Medicine£28,259
Computer Science£25,203
Creative Writing£18,133
Drama, Dance & Cinematics£19,659
East & South Asian Studies£23,723
Electrical & Electronic Engineering£26,146
Food Science£22,249
Forensic Science£18,825
General Engineering£27,157
Geography & Environmental Science£22,001
History of Art, Architecture & Design£20,349
Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism£20,130
Iberian Languages£22,161
Land & Property Management£24,505
Librarianship & Information Management£24,576
Materials Technology£22,468
Mechanical Engineering£26,361
Medical Technology£22,652
Middle Eastern & African Studies£22,412
Occupational Therapy£22,407
Pharmacology & Pharmacy£19,746
Physics & Astronomy£25,047
Russian & East European Languages£23,973
Social Policy£20,555
Social Work£24,761
Sports Science£19,888
Theology & Religious Studies£21,824
Town & Country Planning and Landscape Design£22,775
Veterinary Medicine£26,872

*This data represents average figures based on statistics from The Complete University Guide and HESA, correct as of October 2016.

Important take-aways…

finger face and thought bubbleCredit: Tsahi Levent-Levi – Flickr
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!

Can't wait to start earning the big bucks? Check out the best paid part time jobs for students and make some serious cash!


Leave a comment

Leave a Facebook comment