2:1 degree 'adds 500,000 to income' over course of career

Graduates who leave university with a 2:1 degree can expect to earn as much as 500,000 more throughout their career than those with lower degrees, according to new research.

Students who leave university with a 2:2 or a third can expect to earn around 10,450 less each year than their peers with higher degrees, the study by Adzuna suggests.

Researchers carrying out the study assessed more than half a million jobs and also looked into pay variation across different industries.

They found that science and maths graduates are most likely to move into jobs with high salaries.

Engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, maths and civil engineering were the top-earning subjects, with maths graduates enjoying an average salary of 41,568 and civil engineers getting 41,124.

In contrast, some degree subjects were associated with relatively low salaries.

A hospitality and tourism graduate can expect a salary of around 18,996, the researchers said, while art and design graduates get an average salary of 19,209 and anthropology graduates are paid 21,321.

Interestingly, the study found that some of the top-earning jobs of all did not necessarily require a degree.

A job on an offshore oil platform will typically pay 70,500 a year, a commodities trader is paid around 60,464 and a firefighter's average annual salary stands at 52,960, according to the study.

The study also shed light on the number of jobs available across different industries and parts of the country, finding that IT jobs outnumber all others, followed by engineering and sales.

Perhaps unsurprisingly London was named as the top location for finding employment, with around 5,864 jobs on offer.

The South East was home to the next highest level of vacancies with 2,619 jobs on offer.

Adzuna's head of research Flora Lowther said it is vital that young people are "smart about their choices to maximise their employment prospects" in the current climate when there are over 2.5 million people unemployed and youth unemployment is close to one million.

She said the study confirms that working hard to get a 2:1 or 2:2 does pay off in terms of getting a better paid career, while certain subjects will not help a person's financial prospects.

"With increasing fees and debts, it's not surprising that some potential Alan Sugars and Richard Bransons are by-passing university entirely," she added.

Copyright Press Association 2013