What You Need to Know About Graduate Salaries


One of the most exhilarating aspects of finally finishing your degree and throwing yourself into working life is the prospect of finally earning some good money. No more cereal for dinner and £1 jagerbombs at the student union – you will be able to eat and drink like a king!

That’s the idea at least. While the median graduate salary is rising more or less every year, salaries can vary wildly between different industries and employers, and can even hinge on what city you are working in.

High Fliers report that the median graduate starting salary in the UK 2016 is £30,000 per annum (The Graduate Market in 2016). However, the range of reported graduate starting salaries on offer was £16,000-£56,000. 45% of leading UK employers offer graduate starting salaries between £25,001-£30,000.

The industries or business sectors with the highest graduate salaries in 2016 are investment banking at £47,000, law at £41,000, and banking and finance at £36,000. These sectors are also notoriously difficult to break into and become successful in, perhaps reflected in the unusually high starting salaries.

What many new graduates underestimate is the power of benefits over salary. If you come across a ‘perfect’ graduate job that offers benefits like free or subsidised gym membership, a great cycle-to-work scheme, more than usual annual leave, or annual travel card loans you may want to consider the value of these as opposed to another £150 per month.

Try not to have the salary as your benchmark for success as success looks differently for everyone. Of course you need to be comfortable and able to support yourself, however it is also important to be proud of what you accomplish.

Some degrees, industries, or employers will offer higher salaries than others but don’t let that become your main focus. Earning £56,000 but hating your job and counting down the minutes until you can go home will most likely not leave you feeling satisfied anyway – make sure that whatever graduate job you end up in leaves you feeling good about yourself and what you’re spending your time on.

What to think about

  • Before you begin your graduate job hunt, decide how important salary is to you.
  • Calculate what the lowest salary you can accept and live comfortably on is.
  • Know that the employer or industry that is most suitable to your career progression might not be the one offering the highest starting salary.
  • Salaries in large cities, for example London, may be higher but the cost of living in said cities is usually higher as well.
  • Keep an eye out for fantastic benefits that may hold more value than a slightly higher salary.
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