The Complete University Guide

Starting salaries: What the future holds

Will these years of study lead to a job? Lula Boardman and Alix O'Neill look at pay and job prospects

With so many decisions facing prospective university students it is no wonder the thought of a job slips under their radar. Fresher's week is imminent and funding their degree is more pressing than future career concerns.

But three years go by in a flash. Before you can say "graduation ceremony", you will be thinking "job". Today's tables can help you. Gathered from students six months after leaving university, the figures show that your job prospects vary greatly depending on the degree you choose.

It should come as no surprise that vocational degrees give graduates the greatest employment opportunities. Medicine and dentistry have the highest rates of employment – 87 and 83 per cent of students respectively go straight into work and earn more than other graduates. Medics start on a salary of £30,492 while dentistry students can expect up to £28,030 a year.

It certainly pays to be a scientist. The statistics show that eight out of the highest 10 starting salaries go to graduates with science-related degrees. The other categories that do all right are graduates of economics and social work. The average starting salary for economics graduates is £24,466 and for social workers £22,560. Salaries for mathematics graduates are also firmly in the top 20.

It really does make sense to go into engineering, if you have the right A-levels because most engineering degrees lead to well-paid jobs. The aspiring chemical engineer can earn £25,136, and the civil engineer £22,392 in their first job. Engineering is better paid than computer science, widely regarded as a sensible option for those who are interested in technology.

In some subjects you will need to do a further degree before seeking employment, for example law, where further legal training is required, and chemistry, where many students go on to postgraduate study.

Brian Heap, author of Good Degree Courses, attributes the higher employment rates of science graduates to the fact that their courses are more likely to offer a sandwich structure, where they spend a year away from university on a work placement.

"There is an 80 to 90 per cent employment rate among students in sandwich courses," he says. "A lot of help is given to students on business studies and sciences degrees: such as how to write a good CV and how to give a good interview, and this accounts for their rates among these students."

Bottom of the employment table come sociology graduates, showing that this subject is not seen as preparing people for work. Only 30 per cent are employed in a graduate job six months after graduation on an average salary of £17,685.

But not all humanities students should be concerned. The statistics show that many courses are useful for employment, specifically languages. Those who leave university with a language fare significantly better than those without.

Many prospective students, uncertain of what to study opt for what they know, for example, history, geography or English. However, these subjects are often difficult to get in to and, when compared with more unusual courses such as Middle Eastern and African Studies, fare worse in terms of graduate employment and earnings.

Starting salaries for graduates in subjects such as East and South Asian Studies or town and country planning and landscape, are on average about £2,000 higher than graduates of more traditional arts and humanities degrees. Nearly 20 per cent more graduates in East and South Asian Studies are employed in graduate positions than those with a history degree.

And a less conventional degree will help you stand out from the crowd. Angela Phillips, convenor of the MA journalism course at Goldsmiths, says that a lot of students think that English is the right degree for journalism. "I don't think there is a correct degree. If you've spent three months researching a fascinating dissertation in anthropology you'll have a lot to talk about at interview. I am interested in people who are overflowing with enthusiasm."

While science and business degrees are best for graduate prospects, it's really how you use your time at university that matters. So, relax, enjoy the university experience and don't lose sight of the next step.

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Software Developer - Norfolk - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Software Developer - Norf...

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?