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All degrees are not created equal

According to our latest analysis of job postings on Adzuna, graduates with a 2:2 or Third class degree may earn nearly £8,000 p.a. less than their peers who go into the job market with a First or 2:1, a gap of £300,000 over their working lives.  While a good day on a final exam paper may be the only difference in degree performance, employers use degree result to filter CVs, which means a lifetime of earnings implications.

high flying degrees

Our research also shows a wide gulf in salaries between the best and worst paying degree subjects to study.  Civil Engineering grads can expect to earn an average of £46,940, while employers looking for Hospitality & Tourism degrees pay just £18,996 on average.  Economics, Engineering and Law degrees top the list of top earners, closely followed by Computer Science and Maths, whereas Art & Design, Anthropology, Sociology and Media Studies sit towards the bottom of the list.

For school leavers who are put off university education completely by rising debts and expected tuition fees of more than £8,000 a year, there are still well paid professions out there that are open to you.  Offshore Oil Platform jobs topped our analysis of the highest-paying jobs that don’t need a degree with an average of £76,155, followed by Nuclear Energy Workers at £42,945 and Police Sergeants at £39,033.

We analysed every single job ad posted in the last month on over 100 different UK job boards, a total of over 1M unique records, using the advanced search technology that powers our job search engine.  Our study is particularly interesting because it’s the first to look at a complete index of actual employer demand for degree subjects and grades in the marketplace – most government stats are based on surveys which can be unreliable.

Parents and school-leavers beware.  The choices you make when applying to uni – and studying for exams – can make a huge difference to your financial future.

Here are the full findings:

Salary by Degree Result

Degree Result Slang Term Average Salary
First class honours (1st) Damien (Hirst) £38,753
Upper Second class honours (2:1) Trevor (Nunn) £38,123
Lower Second class honours (2:2) Desmond (Tutu) £30,437
Third class honours (3rd) Douglas (Hurd) £26,535

Top 5 Degree Subjects By Pay

Degree Type Average Salary
Civil Engineering £46,940
Economics £41,796
Law £41,296
Maths £40,833
Computer Science £40,107

Bottom 5 Degree Subjects By Pay

Degree Type Average Salary
Hospitality & Tourism £18,996
Art & Design £19,209
Anthropology £21,321
Sociology £22,102
Media Studies £28,019

Best Paid Jobs Not Requiring A Degree

Profession Average Salary
Offshore Oil Platform Worker £76,155
Nuclear Energy Worker £42,945
Police Sergeant £39,033
Military Security Worker £38,860
Hazardous Waste Manager £38,181