When deciding on what to study at university, one question many people have is how much they can expect to earn once they graduate, then a few years after that. For some fields, this question is much easier to answer. Further, the answer often differs from country to country.
There is much to cover on this topic. So much, in fact, that we are going to dedicate two posts to this discussion. In this post, we are going to examine UK salaries for four popular degrees: business, engineering, computer science, and medicine.
Business graduates in the UK have excellent prospects across a variety of fields. According to Reed (a popular career database), graduates who enter accounting, banking, and finance fields can expect to earn a mid-career salary of between 45,000 and 52,000 GBP per year as of 2016. For management jobs in human resources and graduate recruitment, the average mid-career salary sits between 39,000 and 43,000 GBP.
According to June 2017 data from glassdoor.com, starting salaries for most business fields are similar for UK graduates. Most management and consulting jobs start between 20,000 and 28,000 GBP per year. However for analysts, this figure is quite a bit higher: 34,366 to be exact. Analysts are people who conduct market and sales research and interpret economic data.
Structural, mechanical, and civil engineers start out at a similar level to business graduates: between 25,000 and 27,000 GBP per year. According to Reed, the average lifetime salary for the broader field of engineering is around 36,000. Interestingly, the highest earners in UK engineering jobs hold general engineering degrees. General engineers, who study several subjects during university, are often scouted by innovative technology companies that require their employees to have knowledge in several fields.1
For example, aerospace engineering companies, such as Boeing and SpaceX, design technology that marries complex computer electronics with cutting-edge materials science. Design and architecture firms often require people who understand both electrical systems and human-technology interaction to decide how to best design a high-tech office building. This continuing trend may explain why generalists are now starting to out-earn many others in the UK.
General, mechanical, and civil engineers currently have some of the highest mid-career salaries, with seasoned professionals earning between 43,000 and 45,000 GBP per year on average.2
Computer science and information technology
glassdoor.com reports that the national average starting salary for software engineers in the UK is around 28,370 GBP. Those who live and work in the London area make slightly more, but the prospects for greater earnings a little later into their careers are quite good. Similarly, IT professionals in the UK start between 21,000 and 30,000 GBP.
Mid-career, computer science and software development professionals tend to almost double their salaries. Search engine Adzuna placed the average at nearly 42,000 GBP in 2015. The year before, it was reported that computer science graduates from Oxford were the highest-earning graduates. At six months into their careers, they were earning nearly 44,000 GBP per year. From this data, we can see that salaries in these fields vary a bit.
Currently, junior doctors in the UK are fighting for better wages, and they are having a lot of success. According to the Department of Health, contracts for junior doctors changed in 2016 after a series of strikes. These strikes were partly due to the fact that wages had remained fairly stagnant for over a decade.
Thanks to their efforts, the salary for UK junior doctors now begins at 26,350 GBP, and is increased based on the number of hours worked per week, and the number of nights and weekends worked per month.3 Under this system, junior doctors can end up making nearly 40,000 GBP at the end of their foundation training.
Junior doctors in the UK did not make the top ten new graduate salaries list from glassdoor.com, but average mid-career salaries are competitive. Depending on a physician’s specialization, they can make between 38,000 and 76,500 GBP, according to payscale.com. Radiologists are currently the top earners, followed closely by cardiologists, neurologists, and plastic surgeons.
- Job search website indeed.com breaks down salaries for general engineers by company. ↩
- Imperial College London, which currently has the top-ranked engineering program in the UK, explains more about the career prospects of engineering graduates. ↩
- The British Medical Association (BMA) breaks down the pay scales for junior doctors based on different specialties, amount of time worked per week, and how long into their career they are. ↩