Earnings and employment

Thinking about your job prospects can be helpful in deciding between courses, particularly if this is your main reason for studying at this level.

Here we give ideas of what to think about and suggest information that can help.

Looking at what students who have completed the course are now doing can give you an idea what you may be able to do when finishing the course.

Our data

The data we have on our course pages includes:

  • the percentage of students employed or doing further study
  • the types of jobs students are doing
  • how much they are earning.

Find out more about where our data comes from.

Using the data

There are some things you need to be aware of when using this data to compare courses:

  • Everyone is different

There are lots of factors other than the course that can affect someone’s employment prospects and choices.

  • Labour markets change

This means data from past students can only give you an idea of what a graduate might do or earn in the future. It is also important to know that some careers and occupations have growing numbers of people who are self-employed or freelance. Our earnings and occupations data does not include people who are self-employed, and this may mean that the average earnings shown for some courses and subjects is higher or lower than it would be if freelance and self-employed graduates were included.

  • Salaries and the cost of living vary across regions in the UK

If students from a course go on to work in a region where pay is higher, their salary may be more than those doing the same job in an area where pay is lower. Where you end up working can affect your earnings. But this can also affect how much you need to earn as the cost of living may be cheaper or more expensive depending on where you live. Our course information page now enables you to see earnings information for graduates in different parts of the UK.  You can use the drop-down menu feature to see earnings data at UK level, national level and for regions in England, Scotland, or Wales. This means that where it is available, you can see the average earnings for graduates from all courses in the subject that live or work in the selected location.

  • Think about the long term

In some careers you won't earn as much at first, but your long-term earning potential could still be the same or better. Conversely, you could choose a career that offers an excellent starting salary but might not increase as much over time. Our longer-term salary data (3 years and 5 years after graduation) does not take account of part time working. As some people choose to work fewer hours after establishing themselves in a career this can sometimes make average earnings appear to get lower over time.

  • Only make decisions based on large differences in outcomes

Small differences between courses are unlikely to be meaningful, so it’s not a good idea to base decisions on them.

And if you are considering a course where employment outcomes don’t look as good as others, you might want to talk to the university or college about the reasons for that so you can decide if it’s a good option for you.

As well as the skills you develop from your course, universities and colleges offer other support to help prepare you for your career.

Where to find information

You can find information on what kind of careers support universities and colleges will provide on their websites by following the links on our course pages. You can also speak to their careers services about what is available.

Professional accreditation

If you’re studying to get into a particular career, you may need to take a course with professional accreditation. Or sometimes accreditations show that employers endorse the course. This means that they recognise it gives students skills and knowledge for employment in a particular sector or job role.

The information displayed on Discover Uni is a summary of the potential benefit to students of pursuing an accredited programme. Benefits can include:

  • Graduates are able to practise as a professional in a specific field (for example, they receive a licence to practise that is required by law), or completion of the accredited programme allows them to apply to practise.
  • Graduates are granted chartered status or the completion of the accredited course forms part of a recognised pathway to professional recognition.
  • Graduates are granted exemption from all or some professional exams.
  • Graduates are eligible for entry to membership of a professional association or learned society.
  • The programme has been assessed as meeting externally designated standards and quality thresholds that are recognised by the sector’s industry and employers.

Where to find information

You can see any professional accreditations, and what these mean for students, on our course pages. You can find further information on the professional body’s website.

  • Look at what types of jobs you can do with different degrees on the Prospects website.
  • Find out about opportunities for work experience.
  • Talk to academics about links with industry.
  • Look at our course pages to find out what others have gone on to do and how much they're earning.
  • Look at information on the careers service pages of university and college websites.
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