Salaries for Economics Graduates

The increasingly competitive nature of the graduate job market means that deciding to do a degree requires more than a simple love of the subject. A degree is more commonly seen as an investment: an investment in increased future earnings.

Labour Force Survey

So how wise has your decision to study economics been? There has been a lot of research into this area, with numerous surveys and results. The Office of National Statistics conducted research into graduate earnings. The graph below shows the average percentage premium that graduates earned over those without a degree but with two or more A-Levels (in simpler terms, if Martha and Cyril both completed 3 A-levels but Cyril went to University whilst Martha worked and then they both applied for the same job, it is the increased amount the Cyril will earn as a result of his degree compared to Martha).

Source: LFS Survey, ONS, 1994 - 2006.

This is an uplifting find. If you are a female economics graduate, you can expect to earn 68% more then a fellow female student who stopped at A-level. Economics also scores well when compared to other subjects: for example, compare the results to the increased earnings of a Social Science graduate.

The Complete University Guide

So, as a percentage, you can expect to get more but how much can you expect to earn? The Complete University Guide has formulated a table which shows average earnings by degree. You'll be pleased to hear economics comes sixth, only being beaten by Medicine, Dentistry, and three Engineering subjects. According to the Complete University guide, an economics graduate starting work in 2011 could expect to earn £26,146. The average of earnings for all 61 subjects in the survey is £21,702, earning economics graduates £4,444 above the average graduate and £8,803 over the average salary of a non-graduate. So, if that difference is constant for five years, those graduates earned around £44,000 more then a non-graduate.


The Prospects site looks at possible earnings from a different point of view- not by your degree but by the job sector of your first graduate job. As Economists it is unlikely that we will go into ‘Sports and Fitness Occupations' with an average salary of £15,816 (average salary of full time, first degree leavers who entered full-time employment in the UK). Our expected job ‘sectors' look quite promising: business and statistical professionals can expect to earn £21,626 and business and finance professionals could expect £21,157.

The site also looks into the type of organisation and the mean salary. In an accountancy or professional services firm your salary will be around the £25K mark whilst a trainee financial trader earns from £26K to £32K - not bad for a graduate job! Of course, with economics finance, banking and accountancy are not your only options (have a look at ‘what graduates do').

Economics Network Alumni Survey

The Economics Network ran an Alumni survey in 2008, asking past students of economics a series of questions regarding their studies and their current positions. The results showed that 43.8% of economics alumni were now earning £40,000+, up 7% on the results from the 2004 alumni. 80.9% earn over £25,000 (25% more then the 2004 survey) and, with over half of these in the £40,000 + bracket, the salary for economics alumni looks good.


In Conclusion

All these pieces of research state different starting salaries for economics graduates in different sectors, yet they all highlight that economics graduates can expect to earn above average starting salaries, leading to a faster degree pay-back period and a better rate of return.

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