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Graduates earn nearly 500,000 more over working life

&middot  University graduates in the UK can earn up to &pound500,000 more in a lifetime than those who did not go to university

&middot  Engineering, Computer Science and Maths grads attract the highest salaries, while Hospitality & Tourism and Sports Science degree holders struggle to make top dollar

&middot  Conversely, high salaries for Mining Construction workers, Equity Traders and Offshore Oil Platform workers show that university isn’t always the best-paying option

&middot  Number of vacancies demanding a first class degree has fallen 80% in two years

&middot  Value of postgraduate education increases as the number of employers asking for PhD or MSc almost doubles in two years

The study analysed Adzuna’s comprehensive search index of over 800,000 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 54,206jobs available to graduates in June 2014 across the UK, with nearly 250,000 graduates fighting it out for these coveted positions. On average there are 4.38 applicants to every graduate position, a figure which rises to over 30 in the more competitive regions of London and the South East.

Graduates looking for highest paying entry level roles should head to Cambridge and Aberdeen where advertised vacancies for the newly qualified can result in average pay up to &pound42,000 p.a.. The worst paying cities for graduate jobs include Sunderland and Hull where grads should expect to earn 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 &pound35,000 per annum, showing that university education isn't the only route to a high-paying job. Mining Construction topped the list of best-paying professions that don’t require a degree with an average yearly salary of &pound69,578. Equity Trading, Commodity Trading & Offshore Oil Platform Work 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. Competition in these areas is also the highest in the UK as they offer attractive &pound28k average graduate salaries (&pound3,000 above the national average). Graduate salaries in Eastern England also rank amongst the highest in the country, buoyed by booming science and technology businesses in Cambridge. The worst paying cities for graduate jobs include Sunderland and Hull where grads should expect to earn less than the national average pay rate.

A class divide: do the top grades pay?

The number of job opportunities for graduates with 2:1 and 2:2 degrees is increasing. Demand for First class degrees however is dropping: the number of vacancies open only to First class graduates has fallen 80% since July 2012, meaning that more of the top jobs are now open to strong candidates who missed out on the top grade at university.

However, the popularity of postgraduate qualifications amongst employers is booming, as rising pay rates offer highly qualified candidates lifetime earnings of 34% more than their graduate counterparts.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, commented “In June 2014, Adzuna data shows graduate salaries turning a corner, with the highest year on year salary increase (5%) of any sector in the UK. And the good news for graduates doesn’t stop there, as employers increasingly open up top jobs to candidates with the right attitude, regardless of their final degree classification.”

Graduate of the year

In conjunction with this real-time analysis of graduate job market data, Adzuna have launched their 2014 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 &pound1,000 cash, an internship at a top UK company, and a CV clinic with a famous entrepreneur.

Top 10 sectors for graduate jobseekers

Job Sector

Number of UK Graduate Vacancies July 2014





HR & Recruitment






Accounting & Finance


Healthcare & Nursing


PR, Advertising & Marketing


Customer Services


Top 5 Degree Subjects By Pay

Degree Type

Average Salary 2013

Average Salary 2014

% Change Year on Year

Engineering degree




Computer science degree




Mechanical engineering degree




Mathematics degree




Civil engineering degree




Bottom 5 Degree Subjects By Pay

Degree Type

Average Salary

Hospitality and Tourism




Health & Social Care


Sports Science


Business Studies


Regional distribution of Graduate jobs

UK Region

Number of Graduate Jobs

Average Graduate Salary




South East England



North West England



Eastern England



South West England



West Midlands



East Midlands



Yorkshire and Humberside






North East England






Northern Ireland



Best Paid Jobs Not Requiring A Degree


Average Salary

Mining Construction


Equities Trader


Offshore Oil Platform Worker


Commodities Trader


Nuclear Energy Worker


Hazardous Waste Manager


Military Security


HR Manager


Air Traffic Controller





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