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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.

average graduate salaries each degree

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 that, in the words of L'Oreal, you're worth it!

And remember, just because you studied a particular subject, it doesn't mean you have to pursue a related career. Check out this list of the top skills employers want to find out what you should be whacking on your CV.

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 the 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?

student loan late

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Art (creative, visual & performance)

art design graduate salary

Credit: University of the Fraser Valley - 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, 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 that although a graduate salary could start between £15,000–£19,000, it can rise to £27,000 once you've got a bit of experience.

Banking and Accountancy

finance banking graduate salary

Salaries 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!

Business, Marketing & Management

average salary business marketing graduate

Business 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–£23,000, but some graduate training schemes pay handsomely for impressive candidates. Budget supermarket chain Aldi is a go-to for its grad scheme, which pays £44,000 in the first year. If that doesn't quite do it for you, they'll throw in a car, too (an Audi, funnily enough)!

A career in HR will see you start on something like £19,000 (rising rapidly with more experience and qualifications), while Digital Marketers can expect an starting salary between £18,000–£22,000, again increasing substantially with experience.

Computer Science

average salary computer science graduate

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 back-end 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!

Education

education degree teaching starting salary

Credit: Warner Bros

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 £22,917 (£28,660 in inner London). In Scotland you'll start on probationary pay of £22,416.

Engineering

engineer graduate salary

While Graduate Recruitment Bureau puts the average salary for an Engineering graduate at £25,000, subject specialism can make a difference to your salary. 

Graduates of Chemical Engineering earn an average of £27,696 in their first job, while Civil Engineers nab an average starting salary of £25,847.

Humanities

humanities average starting salary

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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, 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 bag 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, where the recommended pay (if you get any, that is) is £7.50–£13.38 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.

Law

Internship law

Credit: AMC

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 £45,000 as a Trainee Solicitor.

Pupil Barristers in England and Wales earn at least £12,000 a year, which can rise to £50,000 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

life sciences graduate average salary

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The starting salary for a Clinical Scientist in the NHS is anywhere between £26,250–£35,250, while Biomedical Scientists start on £22,000–£28,500.

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

Medicine

Freshers flu cures

Credit: ABC

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 comes when you start specialising, but either way, the further training required can be hard-going and only worth it if you're prepared to stick with it for the long haul.

Graduates going into Adult Nursing start at Band 5 on the NHS pay scale, giving them a starting salary of £22,000–£28,500.

Junior doctors in their first year of postgrad foundation training earn a minimum of £26,614 (boosted to £30,805 by Foundation Year 2). Doctors training for a speciality earn a basic salary of between £36,461 and £46,208.

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 average at £27,721.

It's worth joining (free) sites like the Graduate Recruitment Bureau & CV Library – they'll help you get the job you want with 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.

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£22,828
Aerospace engineering£27,820
Agriculture£20,800
American Studies£20,228
Anatomy, Pathology & Physiology£23,036
Anthropology£20,124
Archaeology£19,448
Architecture£20,956
Creative Arts & Design£15,184
Aural & Oral Sciences£24,076
Biological Sciences£19,760
Building£25,740
Business & Management Studies£24,336
Celtic Studies£21,788
Chemical Engineering£31,824
Chemistry£23,088
Civil Engineering£27,716
Classics & Ancient History£21,892
Media Studies£18,928
Complementary Medicine£25,792
Computer Science£25,480
Creative Writing£16,796
Dentistry£34,840
Drama, Dance & Cinematics£17,940
East & South Asian Studies£17,472
Economics£29,068
Education£23,660
Electrical & Electronic Engineering£26,416
English£19,708
Food Science£22,100
Forensic Science£19,500
French£21,100
General Engineering£29,068
Geography & Environmental Science£23,348
Geology£22,284
German£23,348
History£20,800
History of Art, Architecture & Design£20,956
Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism£19,240
Iberian Languages£21,060
Italian£21,684
Land & Property Management£24,336
Law£24,492
Librarianship & Information Management£23,920
Linguistics£19,552
Marketing£21,788
Materials Technology£26,000
Mathematics£25,896
Mechanical Engineering£28,236
Medical Technology£25,272
Medicine£25,792
Middle Eastern & African Studies£21,736
Music£18,044
Nursing£24,700
Occupational Therapy£22,204
Optometry, Ophthalmology & Orthoptics£18,304
Pharmacology & Pharmacy£22,724
Philosophy£21,892
Physics & Astronomy£26,312
Physiotherapy£23,036
Politics£22,568
Psychology£19,032
Russian & East European Languages£26,052
Social Policy£20,384
Social Work£22,776
Sociology£19,812
Sports Science£19,334
Theology & Religious Studies£20,332
Town & Country Planning and Landscape Design£23,608
Veterinary Medicine£29,224

This data represents average figures collated from multiple sources, including HESA, Office for National StatisticsBestcourse4meGraduate Recruitment Bureau, CV Library and our own surveys.

These are the subjects with the highest earning potential, but what about where you study? Check out the best universities for graduate salary.

Important take-aways...

graduate salaries
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 in earning £40,000 a year if it means you end up savouring loo breaks as an escape from the mindless monotony. Choose something that you're passionate about (or at least vaguely enjoy) 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, 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!

Sources: HESA, Graduate Recruitment Bureau, Prospects, NHS careers, All About Law, Bar Standards Board, Bestcourse4me, National Careers Service

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