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Starting Salaries – Do Graduates Earn More?

Graduate salaries are constantly changing. This page shows how they have changed over time; which subjects earn you more as a graduate vs a non-graduate; and whether it is likely you'll be earning more when you graduate than if you were a graduate now.

Skip to:
• How have graduate salaries changed?
• Will a degree be worth it? The professional premium
• Notes about the data

You can click on subject names in the tables to see the best-performing universities for the subject area.

Colleagues

How have graduate salaries changed?

It's good to have a rough idea of what you could be earning when you graduate. Our data shows how starting salaries for graduates have changed in recent years. Use it to see whether you can expect to be earning more or less than the current wage.

The data is from graduates who completed their degree in the academic year 2016–17, compared with those who earned their degree in 2011–12. The percentage change column allows you to see exactly how the professional* starting salary has changed over five years.

Subject 2012 Inflated^ 2017 Original Change Original Change Adjusted^
Accounting & Finance £24,496 £23,818 9% -2%
Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering £28,133 £26,736 6% -4%
Agriculture & Forestry £21,196 £21,428 13% 1%
American Studies £20,591 £20,645 12% 0%
Anatomy & Physiology £22,601 £22,210 10% -1%
Anthropology £22,263 £21,471 8% -3%
Archaeology £20,240 £20,066 11% 0%
Architecture £19,978 £21,004 18% 5%
Art & Design £20,132 £19,746 10% -1%
Aural & Oral Sciences £23,976 £22,380 4% -6%
Biological Sciences £21,968 £21,669 10% -1%
Building £25,079 £26,304 17% 4%
Business & Management Studies £24,689 £24,437 11% -1%
Chemical Engineering £32,546 £27,734 -4% -14%
Chemistry £23,784 £23,427 10% -1%
Civil Engineering £26,882 £26,729 11% 0%
Classics & Ancient History £22,497 £21,863 9% -2%
Communication & Media Studies £19,835 £20,017 13% 0%
Complementary Medicine £24,053 £24,872 16% 3%
Computer Science £25,981 £25,828 11% 0%
Dentistry £34,442 £31,340 2% -9%
Drama, Dance & Cinematics £19,398 £20,238 17% 4%
East & South Asian Studies £22,226 £22,889 15% 2%
Economics £29,351 £28,287 8% -3%
Education £23,772 £22,002 3% -7%
Electrical & Electronic Engineering £27,380 £27,659 13% 1%
English £20,279 £20,186 11% 0%
Food Science £23,592 £22,153 5% -6%
French £22,344 £22,782 14% 1%
General Engineering £30,624 £28,649 5% -6%
Geography & Environmental Science £22,770 £22,144 9% -2%
Geology £26,679 £22,490 -5% -15%
German £22,747 £22,280 9% -2%
History £23,326 £22,404 7% -3%
History of Art, Architecture & Design £21,830 £20,329 4% -6%
Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism £21,376 £21,012 10% -1%
Iberian Languages £21,764 £23,057 18% 5%
Italian £21,028 £21,944 17% 4%
Land & Property Management £23,354 £25,065 20% 7%
Law £21,605 £21,135 9% -2%
Librarianship & Information Management £26,985 £24,973 3% -7%
Linguistics £20,281 £21,050 16% 3%
Marketing £22,201 £21,968 11% -1%
Materials Technology £27,919 £24,458 -1% -12%
Mathematics £27,432 £26,415 8% -3%
Mechanical Engineering £29,408 £26,937 2% -8%
Medical Technology £24,644 £23,080 5% -6%
Medicine £32,410 £30,636 6% -5%
Middle Eastern & African Studies £21,736 £24,195 24% 11%
Music £18,475 £19,788 20% 7%
Nursing £25,285 £23,057 2% -8%
Optometry, Ophthalmology & Orthoptics £15,920 £16,662 17% 4%
Pharmacology & Pharmacy £22,167 £20,370 3% -8%
Philosophy £23,369 £23,521 12% 0%
Physics & Astronomy £27,508 £26,731 9% -2%
Physiotherapy £24,178 £22,728 5% -5%
Politics £24,309 £23,959 10% -1%
Psychology £21,385 £20,360 6% -4%
Russian & East European Languages £25,685 £24,191 5% -5%
Social Policy £21,083 £21,137 12% 0%
Social Work £26,063 £25,111 8% -3%
Sociology £21,157 £21,869 16% 3%
Sports Science £20,839 £20,447 10% -1%
Theology & Religious Studies £22,143 £21,421 8% -3%
Town & Country Planning and Landscape Design £22,715 £23,269 14% 2%
Veterinary Medicine £29,238 £28,277 8% -3%
Average £23,868 £23,288 9% -1%

Will a degree be worth it? The professional premium†

Changes in graduate earnings over time may make you question whether a degree in your subject area is worthwhile. The professional premium† will show you the difference in salaries between graduates and non-graduates.

The professional premium† is the pay gap between the mean salary for those entering employment in a professional* job, and the mean salary for those starting non-professional employment**.

Scroll through to see which subject areas have the highest and lowest professional premium†. You can also see which subject groups have seen the greatest increase and decrease in professional premium over the last five years.

Skip to:
• Top 10 subjects with the highest professional premium

• Top 10 subjects with the lowest professional premium
• Top 10 subjects with the greatest increase in professional premium
• Top 10 subjects with the greatest reduction in professional premium
• Full table for professional premium

Top 10 subjects with the highest professional premium†– 2017 graduates

Subject Professional Starting Salary* Non-Professional Starting Salary** Professional Premium†
General Engineering £27,280 £18,344 £10,305
Economics £26,146 £18,466 £9,821
Chemical Engineering £28,992 £17,950 £9,784
Electrical & Electronic Engineering £24,390 £17,995 £9,664
Civil Engineering £23,947 £17,882 £8,847
Social Work £23,217 £16,371 £8,740
Physics & Astronomy £24,504 £18,030 £8,701
Mathematics £24,437 £17,772 £8,643
Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering £25,061 £18,121 £8,615
Computer Science £23,144 £17,262 £8,566

Top 10 subjects with the lowest professional premium†– 2017 graduates

Subject Professional Starting Salary* Non-Professional Starting Salary** Professional Premium†
Physiotherapy £21,538 £23,045 -£317
Pharmacology & Pharmacy £19,747 £17,359 £3,011
Communication & Media Studies £17,669 £17,005 £3,012
Music £16,458 £16,720 £3,068
German £20,263 £19,048 £3,232
Architecture £17,797 £17,714 £3,290
Law £19,246 £17,842 £3,293
Agriculture & Forestry £18,882 £18,121 £3,307
American Studies £18,343 £17,307 £3,338
Art & Design £17,934 £16,374 £3,372

Top 10 subjects with the greatest increase in professional premium† 2012–17

Subject Professional Premium 2012† Professional Premium 2017† £ Change 2012-17 % Change 2012-17^
Land & Property Management £6,280 £25,065 £18,785 299%
Veterinary Medicine £8,507 £28,277 £19,770 232%
Complementary Medicine £9,793 £24,872 £15,079 153%
East & South Asian Studies £3,908 £6,024 £2,116 54%
Iberian Languages £4,470 £5,834 £1,364 30%
Italian £3,639 £4,515 £876 24%
Civil Engineering £7,253 £8,847 £1,594 21%
French £4,268 £4,837 £569 13%
Archaeology £3,793 £4,137 £344 9%
Middle Eastern & African Studies £5,661 £6,183 £522 9%

Full table for professional premium

Subject Professional Premium 2012† Professional Premium 2017† £ Change 2012-17 % Change 2012-17^
Accounting & Finance £5,977 £4,923 -£1,054 -17%
Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering £10,304 £8,615 -£1,689 -16%
Agriculture & Forestry £4,852 £3,307 -£1,545 -31%
American Studies £4,857 £3,338 -£1,519 -31%
Anatomy & Physiology £5,935 £5,789 -£146 -2%
Anthropology £4,696 £4,102 -£594 -12%
Archaeology £3,793 £4,137 £344 9%
Architecture £4,177 £3,290 -£887 -21%
Art & Design £4,549 £3,372 -£1,177 -25%
Aural & Oral Sciences £7,845 £5,717 -£2,128 -27%
Biological Sciences £5,785 £4,942 -£843 -14%
Building £8,053 £6,939 -£1,114 -13%
Business & Management Studies £6,607 £5,484 -£1,123 -16%
Chemical Engineering £14,044 £9,784 -£4,260 -30%
Chemistry £7,538 £6,314 -£1,224 -16%
Civil Engineering £7,253 £8,847 £1,594 21%
Classics & Ancient History £6,248 £5,447 -£801 -12%
Communication & Media Studies £3,767 £3,012 -£755 -20%
Complementary Medicine £9,793 £24,872 £15,079 153%
Computer Science £8,413 £8,566 £153 1%
Dentistry £34,442 £31,340 -£3,102 -9%
Drama, Dance & Cinematics £3,581 £3,448 -£133 -3%
East & South Asian Studies £3,908 £6,024 £2,116 54%
Economics £9,882 £9,821 -£61 0%
Education £7,949 £5,821 -£2,128 -26%
Electrical & Electronic Engineering £10,877 £9,664 -£1,213 -11%
English £4,082 £3,456 -£626 -15%
Food Science £6,333 £4,556 -£1,777 -28%
French £4,268 £4,837 £569 13%
General Engineering £10,822 £10,305 -£517 -4%
Geography & Environmental Science £6,542 £5,014 -£1,528 -23%
Geology £10,604 £5,155 -£5,449 -51%
German £5,584 £3,232 -£2,352 -42%
History £6,914 £5,560 -£1,354 -19%
History of Art, Architecture & Design £5,033 £3,417 -£1,616 -32%
Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism £4,182 £3,547 -£635 -15%
Iberian Languages £4,470 £5,834 £1,364 30%
Italian £3,639 £4,515 £876 24%
Land & Property Management £6,280 £25,065 £18,785 299%
Law £4,333 £3,293 -£1,040 -24%
Librarianship & Information Management £9,135 £7,367 -£1,768 -19%
Linguistics £4,210 £4,134 -£76 -1%
Marketing £4,397 £4,120 -£277 -6%
Materials Technology £9,014 £7,090 -£1,924 -21%
Mathematics £9,493 £8,643 -£850 -8%
Mechanical Engineering £11,700 £8,151 -£3,549 -30%
Medical Technology £8,096 £4,627 -£3,469 -42%
Medicine £32,410 £30,636 -£1,774 -5%
Middle Eastern & African Studies £5,661 £6,183 £522 9%
Music £2,821 £3,068 £247 8%
Nursing £7,978 £4,824 -£3,154 -39%
Optometry, Ophthalmology & Orthoptics £15,920 £16,662 £742 4%
Pharmacology & Pharmacy £6,178 £3,011 -£3,167 -51%
Philosophy £6,825 £5,918 -£907 -13%
Physics & Astronomy £10,680 £8,701 -£1,979 -18%
Physiotherapy £8,227 -£317 -£8,544 -103%
Politics £7,129 £6,162 -£967 -13%
Psychology £5,352 £3,554 -£1,798 -33%
Russian & East European Languages £6,219 £5,194 -£1,025 -16%
Social Policy £4,886 £3,960 -£926 -18%
Social Work £9,695 £8,740 -£955 -9%
Sociology £4,641 £4,741 £100 2%
Sports Science £5,130 £3,484 -£1,646 -32%
Theology & Religious Studies £5,606 £5,121 -£485 -8%
Town & Country Planning and Landscape Design £5,166 £5,612 £446 8%
Veterinary Medicine £8,507 £28,277 £19,770 232%
All Subjects £7,625 £7,308 -£317 -3%

A degree in a handful of subject areas is becoming a less economical way to begin your career – but basing a decision about going to university solely on salary will not give the best-informed decision!

If you're interested in a graduate job, check out our list of the top graduate employers.

Notes

Source: HESA 2016–17
Published September 2018.

  • This data is based on the latest Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey 2016–17 and looks at graduate/professional level jobs only.
  • The annual survey is conducted approximately six months after students leave. Approximately two-thirds of survey respondents in full-time paid employment provide information about their salary.
  • Graduates from the academic year 2014-15 were the first to be hit by the rise to £9,000 in university tuition fees.
  • There is insufficient data for the following subjects: Creative Writing; Forensic Science; and Occupational Therapy.

*Professional employment refers to a job or occupation which normally requires a degree.
**Non-professional employment refers to a job or occupation which doesn't normally require a degree.
Professional premium refers to the average difference in salary between those starting professional employment, and those starting non-professional employment.
^Data adjusted for 15% compound inflation over five years (using the Bank of England inflation calculator, based on composite price index published by the Office for National Statistics).