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2015 Graduates could earn £500,000 more over working life

According to analysis conducted by job search engine, jobseekers without a degree should expect to earn up to £12,000 p.a. less than their undergraduate or postgraduate peers entering the job market, a potential deficit of over £500,000 over an average working life.

high flying degrees

The study analysed Adzuna’s comprehensive search index of over 1,000,000 live jobs to reveal the difference in salaries between jobs for university graduates and jobs that don’t require a degree. The research also highlighted a huge divide in salaries between the best and worst paying degree subjects. Further analysis detailed the distribution of graduate jobs to determine which jobs are in hottest demand in each region.

The data shows that there were 62,750 entry level jobs available to graduates in June 2015 across the UK, a 15.7% increase on 2014. As the end of the academic year approaches, over 350,000 graduates will be preparing to fight it out for these coveted positions. On average there are 3.98 applicants to every graduate position, a figure which rises to over 35 in the more competitive regions of London and the South East. Competition for graduate roles this year is set to be 9.2% lower than in 2014, a marked improvement in fortunes for university leavers,

Graduates looking for highest paying entry level roles should head to Cambridge, where advertised vacancies for the newly qualified can result in average pay close to £40,000 p.a.. The worst paying cities for graduate jobs include Sunderland and Cardiff where grads can expect to earn significantly less than the national average salaries.


Adzuna’s analysis of the highest-paying jobs for those without degrees found a large range of jobs paying upwards of £35,000 per annum, showing that university education isn’t the only route to a high-paying job. Equities trading roles topped the list of best-paying professions that don’t require a degree with an average yearly salary of £59,475. Mining Construction, Air Traffic Controllers, Offshore Oil Platform Work and Military Security also rank highly.

Where are all the graduate jobs?

London and the South East boast the most opportunities for newly qualified job seekers, with almost 50% of all entry level opportunities centred in these regions alone. Graduate salaries in Eastern England also rank amongst the highest in the country, buoyed by booming science and technology industries in hub cities like Cambridge. The worst paying cities for graduate jobs include Sunderland and Cardiff, where grads should expect to earn less than the national average pay rate.

Advertised vacancies soar, while salaries stagnate

Despite an annual 15.7% increase in the number of available advertised vacancies for the newly qualifies compared to 2014, this year’s data showed a dip in average graduate salaries, with many of the top-paying roles offering less for the Class of 2015. Mechanical engineers were faced with the steepest salary decline, as average starting pay dipped 3.8% year on year.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, commented: “Employers looking to recruit recent graduates need to act more decisively than a year ago, as the best talent is being hoovered up rapidly. Offering internships is one way to make a company stand out, without the bottom-line impact of the traditional route: offering more competitive salaries. Aside from helping develop the skills of our youth, internships provide a good pipeline of future talent for a firm. Being proactive with hiring pays dividends.”

Graduate of the Year


In conjunction with this real-time analysis of graduate job market data, Adzuna have launched their 2015 Graduate of the Year competition: an international search for top-performing graduates, offering some great prizes to the brightest and best in their field. In partnership with some of the sharpest business minds and best companies in the UK, Adzuna will award winning candidates with several amazing prizes, including £1,000 cash, an internship at a top UK company, and a CV clinic with a famous entrepreneur.

Graduation just a distant memory? Don’t worry, you can still land your dream job! We list every advertised vacancy in the UK, including graduate jobs and internships, on our website, so take a look to see if anything catches your eye!