Late summer is usually the time when exam results are released and teenagers begin their next stage of study at university.
The degree they choose is often based either on what they are passionate about, what field they want to advance in once their career begins, or how much money it is likely to earn them.
This discussion has been revived with former UK finance minister and Conservative Party leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak promising to end low-income college degrees, as part of education reform plans if he became the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
He further pledged to create a Russell Group of world-class technical colleges and to introduce a British Baccalaureate which would prevent 16-year-olds from dropping out of maths and English.
The changes would mark “a significant step towards parity of esteem between professional and university education”, Sunak said.
“A good education is the closest we have to a magic bullet when it comes to improving people’s lives,” he added.
“These proposals represent a significant step towards parity of esteem between professional and academic education. And they will take a tougher approach to college degrees that put students in debt, without improving their earning potential.”
With the rising cost of living, high UK university tuition fees of up to £9,250 a year or more for international students, and increasing competition for jobs as more and more students choose to go to university, young people can – naturally – consider the return on investment when choosing what to study.
Some degrees lead to certain jobs that, on average, offer higher salaries than others, but what are they? We have compiled a list below showing some of the highest paying degrees.
Average starting salary: £20,200 to £22,700 per year
One of the highest paying degrees in the UK, there are several careers you can pursue with a law degree, making it an attractive subject of study.
For trainees and first-timers starting work in various law firms, the country’s legal profession promises a minimum salary of around £20,000. If you start your career in London, you can expect a starting salary of around £22,000 per year.
However, once you qualify, starting salaries can range from £27,000 to £60,000 depending on where you are in the UK.
City solicitors and international solicitors tend to earn more, with some larger firms paying up to £130,000.
Average starting salary: £20,900 to £52,500
A degree in politics is quite often popular in the UK, being one of the highest paying ones.
From a politician’s assistant to a public affairs consultant, your career in politics will earn you a huge amount of money.
All you need is the mind to strategize and execute the written ideologies with brief leadership skills to sustain and grow as a politician.
The overall average starting salary for this career is £20,900, but it can rise quite quickly to over £50,000 for more experienced roles.
Average starting salary: £22,000 per year
Architecture is a field with endless scope and high paying jobs.
Starting salaries can be between £15,000 and £22,000 when first starting out as an architectural assistant, while fully qualified architects can earn between £32,000 and £45,000 a year.
But did you know that you must register with the statutory body, the Architects Registration Board, before you are allowed to use the title ‘architect’ in the UK?
8. Business and Administration
Average starting salary: £25,000 per year
Everyone knows that managers always make more money. By earning an MBA or postgraduate degree in business and administration, you can more or less guarantee a well-paying job after graduation.
Entry-level positions start at £24,000 a year, while most experienced workers earn up to £144,222 a year.
However, there might be some competition as business degrees are oversubscribed due to their popularity.
Average starting salary: £27,000 per year
How not to mention computer science degrees in this modern and technological era?
Computer science graduates will have several careers to choose from given the growth of computer industries and the fact that we use computers every day for literally everything.
Low-skilled graduates earn around £18,000, while high-skilled graduates can expect to earn around £27,000 a year. But again, given the demand for this job, the salary can be much higher.
6. Physics and astronomy
Average starting salary: £28,000 per year
You might be surprised at the opportunities one can have while studying for a degree in physics or astronomy.
Understanding how the universe works is a challenging but rewarding area of study with some of the best paying jobs in the UK.
If you choose to continue your studies and obtain a PhD, your starting salary can be between £28,000 and £39,000 per year.
After ten years, salaries for physicists and astrophysicists tend to rise to £35,000 and £45,000. They will naturally take another raise after a few years on the job, by which time their salary is expected to top £50,000.
Meanwhile, senior researchers and university professors can earn up to £60,000 a year.
Average starting salary: £29,700 per year
Economics is another high paying degree, with an average starting salary of £29,700 per year.
Job openings with starting salaries range between £25,000 and £35,000 and, unsurprisingly, prospects for economics graduates improve over time.
After ten years of employment, the average salary is around £40,000. A small percentage of professionals also earn over £100,000 around this point.
This makes economics one of the highest paying degrees in the UK, with economists working in banking and financial services tending to earn more.
4. General Engineering
Average starting salary: £30,000 per year
Fact: People with engineering degrees make a lot of money. This high-paying degree is also flexible in terms of job opportunities, with roles ranging from scientific research to field engineering work or a managerial position.
The median starting salary for chemical engineers under 25 is around £30,000 and can reach £75,000 for more experienced engineers.
The overall average salary for this career path is around £47,000. However, this varies with each specification.
The average starting salary for aeronautical and manufacturing engineering is £28,000, while chemical engineering graduates earn £30,000.
Electrical and electronics engineering degrees bring in average starting salaries of £29,000, while civil engineering starting salaries average £27,700.
You should note that with an ever-increasing need for innovative technology and infrastructure, engineering will always be in high demand.
3. Veterinary medicine
Average starting salary: £35,000 per year
Are you deeply passionate about animals and don’t mind being a little messy once in a while? Veterinary medicine sounds like the perfect field for you.
A degree in veterinary medicine can allow you to reap the financial benefits quite quickly. On average, vets earn £45,000 per year or £23.08 per hour.
Newly qualified vets usually have a starting salary of around £35,000, which can then increase over time to up to £70,000 as their experience grows.
This career has one of the highest starting salaries, making it a desirable degree to study (plus you spend most of your time with animals, so what not to like?).
Average starting salary: £33,500 per year
Salaries differ when it comes to the medical field: not all medical graduates earn huge sums after graduation. A young doctor can earn a basic annual salary of £23,000.
However, if you start specializing in a specific area of medicine, such as cardiology, your starting salary should increase significantly beyond the £30,000 mark, increasing as your career progresses.
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the UK-based healthcare professional earns an average of £69,463, more than double the average salary, putting medicine high on the list of qualifications the best paid.
The most common role in the field of medicine is that of a general practitioner (GP).
Average starting salary: £38,000 per year
Apart from being well paid, dentistry is not considered an overly competitive job market, but there is some competition to study dentistry in college.
Over 90% of graduates tend to find employment around six months after graduation, either in the NHS or in private practice.
If you work as a salaried dentist employed by the NHS, primarily in community dental services, you will earn around £43,019 to £92,013, according to graduate careers website Prospects.
In NHS trusted hospitals, dental specialty consultants earn a base salary of £84,559 to £114,003 depending on the number of years in the consultant grade.