7 best paid graduate jobs in the UK. What to study to get there?

7 best paid graduate jobs in the UK

What to study to get there?

Understanding where you can work and how much you can earn once you graduate from the university is crucial when making your career choice. How can you make sure that studying what you enjoy will also bring you good income in the future?

In this article you can read about 7 highly paid occupations, graduate salary and how your pay will change over the first few years. You will also find out what education you need to increase your chances of getting one of those top paid jobs.

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City University London


The UK is famous for its large amount of prestigious law firms including those of the Magic circle. However, the graduate pay in law departments of big companies is equally good.

To get to the top jobs, you need to continue your studies after obtaining your degree in Law and qualify as a solicitor or barrister.

Salary expectations

When you start your on-the-job training in a law firm, you get paid. If you work for one of the big legal companies, you can expect to start on £30,000-40,000.

Once you qualify, you should expect your salary to keep steadily rising to £60,000-75,000 over the next few years.

What education do you need?

The law degree itself takes three years to complete. If you decide to become a solicitor or barrister, there is also a one year-long postgraduate course. You then need to undergo a paid training in a law firm that takes two years.

To secure a training contract, you need to beat a strong competition to start with but it is worth it.

What degrees to study to get there?
University of East Anglia LLB (hons) law with European legal systems Ranked 8th in subject
University of Aberdeen LLB (hons) law with options in management studies   Ranked 11th in subject  
Oxford Brookes University LLB (hons) law Ranked 16th in subject  

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University of Liverpool

Banking and Finance

Even after the financial crises, the financial services industry offers a lot of high paid jobs. London has plenty of opportunities for a career in investment banks, hedge funds, investment funds, and insurance companies. HSBC, Prudential, Brevan Howard Asset Management are all headquartered in the UK.

Salary expectations

£31,250 is the median salary for graduates at the start of their career. The figure rises to £50,000 after three years and up to £150,000 for experienced bankers.

What education do you need?

Banks are keen to diversify their workforce and don’t require a degree in finance but expect you to have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree with a strong result. Most jobs in finance require serious mathematical and analytical skills. That’s why engineering and maths degrees are as popular here as those in finance and business management.

What degrees to study to get there?
University of Greenwich BSc (hons) financial mathematics Ranked 9th in mathematics
Heriot-Watt University MA (hons) finance Ranked 3th in finance  
City University London BSc (hons) banking & international finance Ranked 16th in finance  

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Choosing a career in accounting may open the doors to the Big 4 (Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, EY) as well as many other audit companies and internal accounting departments.

Salary expectations

As a graduate, you earn in the region of £25,000 which rises in the next few years up to £50,000. The average salary of chartered accountants in business is £90,000.

What education do you need?

To progress in this field, you have to become a qualified (chartered) accountant by obtaining a professional qualification, such as  ACCA or ACA, after university. Those take 2-3 years to achieve. However, if you are interested in getting ahead in your career and aiming to achieve the top paid jobs, you are better off choosing a university degree in Accounting.

What degrees to study to get there?
Coventry University BA (hons) management & professional accounting Ranked 7th in accounting
University of Derby   BSc (hons) analytics & accounting Ranked 17th in accounting  
Newcastle University BA (hons) accounting & finance Ranked 21th in accounting  

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IT is a vast area and you can choose a specialisation you like, from super hot Data science to Software development and Game engineering. Work in Google, Facebook or help create the next Counter-Strike.

Salary expectations

You start with an average salary of £28,500 which goes up to £30,000-£40,000 in several years. Once you reach managerial level, the figure rises up to £80,000.

What education do you need?

You start with a standard three-year degree after which there are additional professional development courses you can undertake in a specialist area. If you are interested in moving up the ladder though, some managerial training could be helpful, such as an MBA.

What degrees to study to get there?
Durham University MEng (hons) computer science Ranked 10th in subject
Swansea University BSc (hons) software engineering Ranked 11th in subject
Aston University BSc (hons) computing for business Ranked 25th in subject  

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Engineering offers a number of specialist areas. If you aspire to become automotive engineer, you can work at Chrysler or Aston Martin. Aviation engineers in the UK create Airbus planes, civil engineers build projects like Cross rail.

Salary expectations

You can expect to have an average salary of £26,000 in the first years of your work. Prospects for higher earnings in the profession are good.

For example, as a chartered chemical engineer you can earn up to £70,000.

What education do you need?

The status of a chartered engineer allows to enjoy higher salaries and better job prospects. The quickest way to achieve it is to study for an integrated four year bachelor’s + master’s programme (MEng) and graduate with at least an upper second class degree.

What degrees to study to get there?
What degrees to study to get there?
Queen's University Belfast MEng (hons) chemical engineering Ranked 5th in chemical engineering
Coventry University BEng (hons) mechanical engineering Ranked 14th in mechanical engineering
University of Liverpool MEng (hons) civil engineering Ranked 8th in civil engineering  

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Business management

Any business, large or small, needs well educated business managers, so you can take your pick from almost any industry. Headquarters of all big companies, from Chrysler to Loreal, hire graduates every year.

Salary expectations

As a business graduate you should expect to earn a median salary of £28,500 which rises steadily with almost no top limit.

After three years of experience, the average salary for most graduates in this sector comes to £35,000, but can reach up to £70,000 depending on the company for which you work.

What education do you need?

There is a large variety of business related degrees you can obtain in three years. If you do an MBA after gaining a few years of experience, it might help you to progress in your career quicker.

What degrees to study to get there?
King's College London BSc (hons) business management Ranked 10th in subject
University of Strathclyde BA (hons) business Ranked 17th in subject
University of Kent BBA (hons) business administration Ranked 24th in subject  

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Any commercial company requires qualified marketing staff, whether it is selling goods or services. With skills in marketing, you can work in any big company as well as marketing and advertising agencies, and market research companies.

Salary expectations

It is relatively easy to get into marketing and your starting salary is likely to not be very high, £17,300 to £19,000. However, once you have gained some experience, it goes up significantly and after a few years it is closer to £30,000 and an average of £38,000 if you get to a managerial position. If you are more ambitious, marketing directors earn an average salary of £86,000.

What education do you need?

Obtaining a degree in marketing takes standard three years for a bachelor’s programme and 1 year for a master’s.

What degrees to study to get there?
University of Strathclyde BA (hons) marketing Ranked 17th in subject
Coventry University BA (hons) advertising & marketing Ranked 20th in subject
University of Dundee BSc (hons) international business with marketing Ranked 21th in subject  

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It takes a combination of good education and several years of on-the-job experience to get to those top salaries, so it is a journey that requires consistency. However, if you are doing well academically and are prepared to go through the necessary steps, there is no reason why you would not be become one of the high earners.

If you need help choosing your future profession, try our test or contact us and we will help you to choose the right programme for you.


University ranking according to the University league tables by Guardians, 2016, AGR Annual Survey 2015, Job profiles by

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