From education to employment

How Much Will Your Degree Earn You? Graduates more likely to be in employment and earn more than non-graduates

As final year students prepare to enter the workforce, Fresh Student Living compares the difference in salaries across various industries in the UK to reveal the most valuable degrees.

New research by CV-Library analysed more than 5,400 graduate job postings, revealing that the average salary for a university graduate is £24,804.

Average Annual Earning Potential for Graduates

Depending on your degree, graduates can enjoy a wealth of career paths and salaries once you leave university and further into your career. According to Save the Student, this is the earning potential of students with the following degrees:

Art (creative, visual and performance)

For those wanting to get into Creative Arts like design, music, visual arts and performing, the opportunities are endless, however, salaries will vary. Typically, the starting salary for a Museum Curator is around £18,000 while those interested in digital art like graphic and digital design can expect a higher salary starting at £15,000–£19,000 with the potential to rise up to £27,00 after some years of experience.

Banking and Accounting

Salaries for accountancy can vary depending on location, specialisation and size of the company, although graduates can still enjoy a decent starting package of £23,180. If you are really looking to start off with a highly desirable salary, investment bankers have been known to earn up to £45,000 right off the bat.

Business, Marketing and Management

These degrees can open plenty of doors for graduates and some well-paid careers in accountancy or investment banking as well as marketing, HR, retail management and media. A career in retail management could earn you a salary of between £17,000–£23,000, while a career in HR can start you off with a cool £19,000. Digital marketing degree holders can expect a starting salary of between £18,000–£22,000.

Computer Science

Your salary will depend on what career path you follow. IT jobs like programming, systems analysis, web design, UX design and more are in high demand and promise good salaries, which can range from £17,000 all the way up to £70,000.


Teaching positions are always in high demand in England and Wales. Starting salaries for qualified teachers range from £22,917 to £28,660 for London-based positions.


Depending on your specialty, engineering graduates can enjoy salaries that start at £25,000 for civil engineers to £27,696 for chemical engineering.


These degrees are quite flexible in terms of job hunting, with possible options being media, teaching and marketing, to name a few. Starting salaries for those in publishing and journalism are around £19,000–£23,000, although unpaid internships are also a reality in this industry.


Despite what many think, a law degree is not a quick ticket to a high salary. Law graduates will have to start from the bottom, while the most competitive firms can offer salaries between £22,000 and £45,000.

Life Sciences

The starting salary for a clinical scientist ranges between £26,250–£35,250, while biomedical scientists can expect anything from £22,000 to £28,500.


Of course, a degree in medicine is as prestigious as it can get, although, like law, graduates, you must be prepared to start from the bottom. Unlike law, graduates are able to earn more faster and have access to better benefits. Graduate salaries for those going into adult nursing is around £22,000–£28,500, while junior doctors can earn £26,614 and specialists between £36,461 and £46,208. For animal lovers, veterinary medicine offers an average starting salary of around £27,721.

Most In-Demand Jobs for Graduates

More students are graduating from college and university than ever before, which means students can expect to enter one of the toughest job markets yet. Therefore, students should equip themselves with the right tools to enter one of these in-demand careers:

  • IT security architects
  • Data analysts
  • Risk analysts
  • Part-qualified accountants
  • Civil engineers
  • Payroll team leaders
  • Java developers
  • Safety case engineers
  • Building surveyors
  • Project managers

When to Apply for Graduate Jobs

Graduates should consider applying for a job as soon as possible, although most graduate jobs begin the September following graduation. Some top employers begin their application process up to a year before the start date, so it is advised to start applying the moment you know what you want to do.

The summer before your final year is the best time to start thinking about your career, researching your skills and qualifications, and considering variables like job location and salary. The September – January period is the key time for submitting your applications, but you should also start preparing for the long process of interviews and assessments, which usually begin after February.

Keep in mind that many graduate schemes are seasonal, so if you miss the application deadline, you may have to wait another year before reapplying. That said, some schemes do follow a rolling recruitment process, with various roles available throughout the year. 

Graduate Jobs and Schemes – A Timeline

It is recommended to make use of a timeline when applying for any graduate jobs or schemes to avoid things falling through the cracks or missing an important deadline.

  • July before your final year: Start researching what roles and companies would suit you, what you want to do and what you envision your future career to be.
  • August: During this time, you should be thinking about your application – how to apply, what the requirements are, and updating your CV.
  • September: Applications open. Before you apply, chat with a career advisor and get them to thoroughly review your application.
  • October – January: Send your application. Send as many applications to various jobs as possible for the best chance at success.
  • February: Most deadlines have now passed. Graduate schemes will begin their recruitment process by filtering through the applicants.
  • March – April: If you have passed the first round, you will be sent assessments, which could be followed by interviews and even an offer.
  • May – June: There is a chance that certain schemes could be re-opened if more jobs become available, giving you a second chance if you have not been accepted in the first round.
  • July: Your application will be reviewed, and you will either be offered the job or not.
  • August – September: If successful, you will begin your graduate scheme. If not, the application process will start again.

The new Graduate Labour Market Statistics showed that, in 2017, English-domiciled graduates and postgraduates had higher employment rates than non-graduates and the average, working age graduate earned £10,000 per year more than the average non-graduate. Universities UK responded to the latest official statistics on graduate employment and earnings. 

Sam Gyimah100x100Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

We want everyone who chooses to study at one of our world class universities to know they are getting good value for money for their investment, so I’m delighted these figures confirm that a degree can lead to higher earnings, with graduates earning on average £10,000 more than non-graduates in 2017. This is in addition to graduate salaries increasing when compared to 2016 – up by £1,000 on average.

But we want the benefits of higher education to extend beyond just earnings, setting graduates on the path to good jobs, and today’s figures show that a degree helps graduates into highly skilled roles – 77.8% postgraduates and 65.5% of graduates were in these positions in 2017, compared to 22.2% of non-graduates.

However, we know there is more to do which is why we are undertaking a major review of post-18 education and funding to ensure more people can access higher education and students and taxpayers can get greater value for money.

Alistair Jarvis100x100Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:

These latest figures show that, on average, university graduates continue to earn substantially more than non-graduates and are more likely to be in employment. A university degree remains an excellent investment.

University graduates are also in increasing demand from employers. The latest annual survey from the Institute of Student Employers revealed that the graduate jobs market is expected to grow this year, with an estimated 11 per cent rise in vacancies.

While graduate salaries are an important factor, we must be careful to avoid using it as the single measure of success in higher education. Many universities specialise in fields such as the arts, the creative industries, nursing and public sector professions that, despite making an essential contribution to society and the economy, pay less on average.

About Fresh Student Living: Fresh Student Living is a leading provider of student accommodation offering homes to over 16,000 students in more than 50 towns and cities across the UK. Their philosophy revolves around creating quality student homes as unique as the people who live in them and has resulted in 90% of students rating their time with Fresh Student Living as very satisfied or satisfied.

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