The plan is simple.
Go to uni. Study hard. Get your degree. Start work. Get rich. Easy, right?
If only it were that simple...
There was a time when earning a degree, any degree, guaranteed an excellent salary. But times have changed. In the 1970s and 80s, only 10-20% of the UK population went to higher education. That figure is now closer to 50%.
For many graduates, this means higher competition for jobs, stagnant starting salaries against rising living costs, and ultimately, more student debt for longer.
But this isn't the case for every degree. Choose the right one, and you'll end up in a high paying job, doing something you love from the moment you start working.
Here we'll guide you through the 12 highest paying degrees in the UK.
Your graduate salary in context: Average & minimum UK salary
For reference, the National Minimum Wage for anyone in the UK is £8.91 per hour. For those aged 21 to 22, it's £8.36, and for those from 18 to 20, it's £6.56.
If you are 21 or 22 and working 35 hours a week, working full time would be an annual salary of £15,215. After-tax, compensation reduces to £14,008 a year.
The average UK income is £28,000 a year in 2021.
But what about the highest paying jobs in the UK for freshers? The data varies on this for various reasons, but the average starting salary is approximately £24,000 in the UK. Break it down, and that's £2,000 per month, just over £450 per week, or just over £90 per day. Not bad, Suppose for starters.
Earning this amount or above would be considered a good starting wage, allowing you to cover your living costs, have some fun in your free time, and if you've taken out a student loan, begin paying off that pesky debt.
The top 12 degrees with the highest starting salaries in the UK
We've taken a look at the most recent data compiled by The Complete University Guide and picked out the highest paying degrees in the UK.
Read on to discover our round-up of the top 12 best highest paying degrees in the UK.
Average starting salary: £39,467
If you're looking to get your teeth straight into work while taking a massive bite out of your student debt, study for a degree in dentistry. See what we did there? Yeah… we'll stop now.
Though dentistry is one of the highest paying degrees in the UK, it's not an overly competitive job market. Over 90% of dentistry graduates in the UK find employment within six months of graduation.
If you think this would be a great path for you, why not explore excellent UK universities for Dentistry?
Average starting salary: £34,012
Not all medicine graduates earn huge amounts upon graduation. For example, a junior doctor makes a basic salary of approximately £23,000, which increases yearly.
However, once you begin to specialise in a specific area of Medicine, say, cardiology or psychiatrist, your chances for earning a high pay scale increases significantly to over £30,000.
And it gets better in the future, too. According to the National Statistics, the average UK based medical professional earns £69,463. That's more than double the UK average salary, making medicine a top spot in the list of degrees with the highest-paid degrees in the UK.
Explore Medicine Courses in the UK
If this is your calling, find out more about top UK universities to study medicine!
3. Veterinary Medicine
Average starting salary: £34,890
It takes a certain kind of person to study Veterinary Medicine -- someone who is deeply passionate about animals and doesn't mind getting a little messy from time to time.
The financial rewards are speedy to arrive, as this field has high-paying jobs. Newly qualified vets tend to earn around £35,000, while time and experience in the position could see you earning as much as £70,000.
Explore Veterinary Medicine Courses in the UK
Average starting salary: £34,135
Who would have thought that studying the production and distribution of wealth would result in, well, wealth? Just north of £29,700 per year is a fantastic starting salary.
Unsurprisingly, Economics graduates' prospects get better with time. After ten years of employment, an average salary is approximately £40,000, while around 10% of graduates earn over a huge £100,000 after the same time. This fact makes Economics one of the highest paying degrees in the UK.
The sky's the limit for Economics graduates, so why note explore 10 of the best economics courses in the UK?
5. General Engineering
Average starting salary: £30,809
It's pretty simple; people with engineering degrees earn good money. A degree in General Engineering yields an average starting salary of £29,900. The overall average salary for this career is approximately £47,000, but some jobs offer as much as £75,000.
It's also a hugely popular course internationally, so why not explore great engineering courses in Canada while you're looking?
While we're here, let's look at the other fields of study in engineering: The average starting salary for Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering is £28,000. Chemical Engineering graduates earn £30,000. Electrical & Electronic Engineering degrees fetch average starting salaries of £29,000, while Civil Engineering starting salaries are £27,700 on average.
Need more good news? With an ever-increasing need for innovative technology and infrastructure, engineering will be one of the highest paying UK degrees, and it will continue to be in high demand.
Average starting salary: £28,498
Mathematics should be a part of our list, which, let's face it, is all about numbers. A degree in Maths opens up a world of career choices in accounts, finance, investments, data science & analytics, and plenty more. Though this subject area has many high paying degrees and specialisations in the UK, the starting salaries for Mathematics graduates can vary a great deal depending on their profession. The average annual starting salary is a tidy £28,000.
Explore Mathematics Courses in the UK
7. Physics & Astronomy
Average starting salary: £28,125
They are gaining insight into how the universe works is a challenging but rewarding field of study with some of the highest-paying jobs in the UK. In the first ten years on the job, physicists' and astrophysicists' salaries tend to increase to £35,000 and £45,000. Naturally, they'll take another hike after 20 years in the job, by which time you'll likely be earning over £50,000.
If you head down the academic path, get a PhD, and continue post-doctoral research, your starting salary can be anywhere between £28,000 and £39,000. Meanwhile, senior researchers and university lecturers can earn up to £60,000 per year.
There are a lot of potential paths you could take with a degree in Physics - why not explore the highest paying jobs to find out more?
8. Computer Science
Average starting salary: £27,500
How can a list of high paying degrees be complete without computer science in this technological world?
We use computers to do so many essential tasks every day, everywhere. So, we need computer scientists to manage, innovate and improve this computer-driven world. Since the demand is so high, the salary is also high.
9. Business and Administration
Average starting salary: £26,496
Managers always make more money. By getting an MBA or a postgraduate degree in Business and Administration, you can more or less guarantee a high paying job after graduation.
You might have a little competition as many students choose business degrees these days, but since business grads are needed in every industry out there, you will easily find your ideal high paying job in the UK.
Don't worry if this is where you think your future lies, we've written a great article on top UK universities to study MSc Business Analytics, so why not explore your options?
Average starting salary: £25,500
Architecture is a field with a never-ending scope and high paying jobs. We always needed building and over structures built in the past, and we will always need them in the far future too!
After becoming a specialised architect, you can expect a hefty salary irrespective of where you are on the construction site supervising the building process or in your 33rd-floor corner office planning the next skyscraper.
Average starting salary: £22,231
For trainees and freshers who start to work in diverse law firms, the country’s law profession promises a minimum wage of approximately £20K in and around the country. If you start your professional career in London, then hola! You’ll be paid a maximum of £22K in approximation.
By pursuing this degree and being a part of the profession that upholds the law and order of the nation, you will be making the list of people who sought the highest paying degrees in the UK.
Average starting salary: 24,945
From coming around the office at Downing Street as a politician’s assistant to being the public affair’s consultant, your career presence in the field of politics will get you a massive sum of money.
All you need is the mind to strategise and execute the drafted ideologies with brief leadership skills to sustain and grow as a politician.
But what about the law? What about accounting??
You might be shocked not to see any of these famous subjects on the 'highest-paying degrees' list. This isn't a mistake, don't worry.
The average starting salary for a trainee solicitor or entry-level accountants can be as low as £21,000.
"So should I rule out studying Accounting or Law?"
Absolutely not. While the starting salaries aren't always great, they're enough to live quite comfortably off. And after a few years in these careers, your earnings begin to soar.
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