How Much Could You Earn With Your Degree? | EduOpinions

How Much Could You Earn With Your Degree?


We have heard it from our parents – the more you learn, the more you earn. But, how much of that is true? That’s why we here at EDUopinions are here to break it down to you. For most university graduates, having a degree sets them apart and pays them more too. Estimates suggest women can expect to earn about £250,000 more if they have a degree, while the figure is roughly £170,000 for men.

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However, there are many factors that affect your pay scale – the company that hires you, the industry you end up in, even the city you’re based in, just to name a few. However, it’s always good to do some research and see how much your degree is worth before you enter the job force.

Of course, pursuing an undergraduate or a graduate degree means shelling out five-figure and when the student loans pile up – you being to wonder if your degree is worth the risk. We have rounded off some high-paying jobs that require a degree along with what to study exactly at universities to get these jobs. Here are the pay scales as well as all the career options related to each educational stream.




Read on to know how much your college degree is actually worth:


1) Art

This includes visual, creative and performance art. You must already be aware that art students aren’t paid so well. But, if you’re in creative arts – like dance, music, performing or visual arts, the salaries are VERY varied! Which is why art students want to “make it”. As a struggling artist, it’s tough to get by or get paid much. It depends on which industry you’re in and even the kind of connections you have or to put bluntly- how good are you at your skill.

If you’re a graphic or digital designer, then your salary might be on the higher end as everything is going digital these days and such skills are needed by product companies, web development companies or any company that’s doing any marketing online really. So the demand is pretty high!  A graduate salary could start between £15,000–£19,000, it can rise to £27,000 once you’ve got a bit of experience.


What do you need: To become a performing artist or a musician – no specific degree is actually required. But artists have an edge and also sometimes more knowledge about their art when they earn their degrees in music or dance.

For a graphic designer, most likely you do need a degree in graphic design in order to apply for jobs.


Average art & design salaries in UK

Job Salaries
Graphic Designers £ 21,599
Artists £ 28,637
Archivists £ 25,377
Musicians £ 24,000


Average art & design salaries in US

Job Salaries
Producers and directors $70,950
Multimedia artists and animators $65,300
All art and design occupations $44,410
Archivists, curators and museum technicians $47,230
Graphic designers $47,640



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2) Accountants

If you’re a finance graduate then being an accountant or a banking advisor will be your likely career path. You would think that the big bucks are reserved for people only at the high end of the ladder- but with accounting and banking, that’s not true!

According to the 2018 Salary Survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), graduates with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in the US currently earn an average starting salary of $50,833, while in the UK accounting graduates can earn starting salaries of up to £25,000 ($35,500), with potential to earn upwards of £50,000 ($71,000) once fully trained and qualified as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Though salaries for accountants vary depending on location, size of the company, and specialisation. Graduates in banking certainly get the big bucks. The starting salary of investment bankers starting off with an average salary of £45,000!

How To Become an Accountant: For that, you will need a degree in accounting or finance, this will help you get an entry-level role in this industry.  Many students also study further to gain extra training within the field in order to become qualified CPAs and to subsequently earn a sizeable income increase without the need for a graduate degree.


Average accounting & finance salaries in the UK 

(data from PayScale)

Job Salaries
Brokers £ 45,000
Actuaries £ 51,964
Economists £ 35,297
Statistician £ 31,693
Finance and investment analysts and advisers £ 35,166
Accounting Technician £ 20,304
Insurance underwriters £ 26,388
Financial accounts managers £ 26,354
Chartered Accountants £ 34,637
Finance officers £ 22,111


Average accounting & finance salaries in the US 

Jobs Salaries




Accountants and auditors




Personal financial advisors




Financial analysts




Financial examiners




Budget analysts




Insurance underwriters




Loan officers




Cost estimators






3) Engineer

Engineering has been a consistently high-paying sector for decades now. Engineering is one of the five highest-paid degree subjects, according to 2018 data compiled by NACE. According to NACE, software engineering graduates earn the highest starting salaries of the engineering branches considered, at $70,073.

Other lucrative engineering streams one can choose are computer engineers (average starting salary $69,510), chemical engineers ($68,764), electrical engineers ($67,358), and mechanical engineers ($66,659).

As an engineering graduate in the UK, one can expect at least £25,000 (~$35,550) as their starting salary. Chemical engineering is the most demanding engineering field in the UK, with an average starting salary of £27,696 (~$39,400).

How to become an engineer: You will be expected to have specialised knowledge in a particular field.  You can choose from aeronautical, chemical, electrical, mechanical, civil or other specialised engineering degree path. Further training and qualifications will further increase your earning potential.


Average engineering salaries in the UK:

Jobs Salaries
Aircraft engineers


£ 33,660


Design engineering manager


£ 50,159


Production managers in manufacturing


£ 34,271


Electrical engineers


£ 30,824


Mechanical engineers


£ 29,726


Electronics engineers


£ 29,396


Product development engineers


£ 29,843


Civil engineers


£ 30,558


Mining engineers


£ 40,000



Average engineering salaries in the US 

(data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016)

Jobs Salaries
Computer hardware engineers




Aerospace engineers




Chemical engineers




Electronics engineers (except computer)




Mining and geological engineers




Nuclear engineers




Petroleum engineers




Marine engineers and naval architects




Biomedical engineers






4) Law

Though being a lawyer seems like an easy way to get that higher salary package, the starting salaries vary massively. At the most competitive firms, you could get between £22,000 and £45,000 as a Trainee Solicitor.

Experts in law usually specialise in their fields like immigration or patent law, and they can work in a variety of settings. These can include private practices, law firms, businesses, nonprofits, or government agencies.

How to become a lawyer: To become a lawyer, you need to study for LSAT. It’s only through LSAT or  Law School Admission Test, that you can make some of the highest salaries in Criminal Justice and Law. You need to get a Juris Doctor (J.d) degree. After which you have to take the bar exam n order to become licensed to practice in your state bar. After all of that training, the median salary for all lawyers is around $118,160 per year.


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Average legal salaries in the UK 

(data from PayScale)

Jobs Salaries
Attorney/ lawyer


£ 50,020




£ 35,482




£ 53,000


Law firm partner


£ 68,828



Average legal salaries in the US 

(data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016)

Jobs Salaries
Attorney/ lawyer $118,160


Judges and hearing officers




Arbitrators, mediators and conciliators




Court reporters




Paralegals and legal assistants






5) Medicine

It’s thought that doctors have the highest paying jobs, but the entry-level salaries are on par with humanities careers. However, you’re likely to be able to earn more faster, plus have access to better leave, sick pay and other job benefits.




Only after you start specialising does the big money pour in. But, further studies and training can get pretty gruesome and tough and only a few are able to stick with it. Graduates going into Adult Nursing start at Band 5 on the NHS pay scale, giving them a starting salary of £22,000–£28,500.

Junior doctors in their first year of postgrad foundation training earn a minimum of £26,614 (boosted to £30,805 by Foundation Year 2). Doctors training for a speciality earn a basic salary of between £36,461 and £46,208.

If you study veterinary medicine, then your average starting salary would be at an average £27,721.


Average medical & life sciences salaries in the UK 

(data from PayScale)

Jobs Salaries
General Practice Doctors


£ 50,664




£ 24,798




£ 49,406




£ 27,500




£ 30,737








£ 24,712




Average medical & life sciences salaries in the US 

(data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016)

Jobs Salaries
Physicians and surgeons












Medical scientists




Biological technicians








Conservation scientists and foresters






6) Computer Science

Just like engineers, IT professionals are pretty sought-after and in demand. Thanks to the fast-paced world of computers, tech and IT. In the US, the median salary of a computer programmer stood at $82,240 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017, with starting salaries for computer science graduates reaching an average of $66,005 according to the NACE Salary Survey.

In the UK, computer programmers earn an average of £30,779, depending on who hires and what kind of job market is it at that particular time.

Another high-paying job in IT includes that of web-development. The average salary in the US is $67,990 and with network architecture ($104,650) and software development ($103,560 ), with starting salaries also looking fairly healthy.

How to become a computer science graduate: You will need a bachelor’s degree in the IT field such as computer science, mathematics or information systems.

The many job opportunities after computer science are programming, front- and back-end development, systems analysis, web design, UX design, online security, games and apps and the list keeps on growing as and when new technology keeps getting invented! So computer science is pretty lucrative and you can really get a great job after studying this too.


Average computer science & IT salaries in the UK 

(data from PayScale)

Jobs Salaries
Information technology directors


£ 76,061


IT specialist


£ 32,479


IT project managers


£ 42,549


IT business analysts


£ 35,543


Telecommunications specialist


£ 35,000




£ 30,400


Software development managers


£ 52,099



Average computer science & IT salaries in the US 

(data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016)

Jobs Salaries
Computer and information research scientists




Software developers




Information security analysts




Computer systems analysts




Computer network architects




Computer programmers




Computer support specialists






Other degrees that you can pursue, which can make you some big bucks in the future are:


  • Public relations Manager: Public relations is an ever-growing industry and field. Graduate students who pursue public relations can get lucrative offers with specialist roles in the US earning a median salary of $53,241 annually, and management roles boasting a hefty median salary of $111,280, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. NACE’s Salary Survey 2018 report found that communications graduates overall earn an average of $51,448.

Even in the UK, public relations roles are well paid. The starting roles of PR executives and PR assistants earn an average of £20,300 (~$28,900), PR officers earning between £22,000 and £28,000 (~$31,300 to $39,850), and managers earning upwards of £35,525 (~$50,600).

How to become a public relations expert: Though one can pursue public relations with just a bachelor’s degree, you will need to work hard to learn the tricks of the trade. If you can work hard then it might pay off and you might get a coveted managerial pay packet. You can be a graduate in mass communications, English, business, advertising or even marketing.


  • Management consultant: Of course if you’re in the world of business, then that’s where the big bucks lie. However, one needs to work a couple of years or have a few years of experience before you can get those big bucks. To become a management consultant, however, often an undergraduate degree is all you need to get your foot in the door – and, gratefully, that foot is likely to get a nice starting salary.

According to NACE’s 2018 Salary Survey, management consultancy is a top-paying industry for the Class of 2018 in the US, with new hires earning salaries of $67,569, while the median pay for consultants of all levels stands at US$82,450 annually. Notably, it has also been predicted that employment rates in the US will grow approximately 14 per cent over the next eight years.

How to become a management consultant: You will need to have at least a management degree or a bachelor’s degree to show some experience in the field or some leadership skills. Employees prefer graduates of business, economics, finance, mathematics, engineering or natural sciences.


Apart from understanding how much you will earn with your degree, it’s also crucial to understand your own interests and passion. Only after a careful calculation of both, must you finally decide what to pursue. 


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Nikita is one of the main authors at EDUopinions, specialised in Higher Education and focused on business studies analysis. She is a digital nomad who works while travelling.

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