Before stepping out into the professional world it’s essential to know as much as you can about what’s on offer for graduates. We give you the lowdown on the top roles in terms of salary, opportunity, work-life balance, and what kind of roles are open to you if you have STEM qualifications.
Highest-paid graduate roles
The High Fliers 2022 annual review of the graduate market (source) reveals the sectors with top starting salaries were financial services and law. So, if you’re chasing paper to pay off some of that dreaded student debt, this could be a good place to start. But high financial rewards aren’t exclusive to law and finance. Other roles in tech, property, and engineering also offer generous salary packages.
Investment banking is renowned for offering a financially rewarding career. While it’s exciting and challenging, you’ll experience long hours, be expected to travel far at a moment’s notice and work in a highly competitive and demanding environment. But with a median starting salary average of around £50,000, you’re certainly paid for your efforts.
Lawyers are seriously rewarded for their long hours - especially at prestigious Magic Circle firms that offer starting salaries of around £50,000. Law is a high-pressure, fast-paced, and ambitious career path. If you’re looking for work-life balance, steer clear. But if you thrive on that kind of thing and want stability, this could be your calling.
The average salary for a new vet is around £32k, and often graduates get a package which can include a car and accommodation too. However, this has to be balanced against the higher cost of taking the longer veterinary degree in the first place.
Although the very highest paying career in property is only open to those with a related degree, any graduate can forge a degree as a property consultant. This role is all about working with commercial clients and maximising the income they can achieve from their property portfolio. It’s a good choice of career for anyone with a business or maths-related degree and you can expect an entry-level salary of around £41,000 per annum.
A development engineer works in the IT department and liaises between the software coding team and the rest of the IT team. This might be the career for you if you have studied business management, computer science, or any other electronics or computing-related degree. New graduates can expect an average starting salary of around £40,000 in this sector.
Being a structural engineer could involve working on anything from a small extension on a house to a huge new hospital or school. They also advise on the best ways of building roads, bridges, and other large construction projects to ensure their safety. Training programmes are available with many of the large consultancies, and attract graduates from a range of engineering degrees. Average salaries stand at around £31,000 per year.
Actuaries spend their life number crunching, trying to evaluate the financial impact of certain risks which may or may not happen in the future. Successful actuaries have to be highly numerate, and the career attracts people with degrees in subjects such as maths, statistics or economics. The starting salary is around £30,000.
Python developer, C++ developer, or full-stack developer
We’re putting these three jobs together as they all have similar requirements. These are technical roles that involve writing new code, setting up databases and/or creating new apps to run on smartphones. Understanding coding languages is a highly sought-after skill from employers. The best paid developers already have substantial experience in these programming languages, however, most entrants possess degrees in computer science or similar. Entry-level salaries do vary but can start at around £32,000.
Ensuring compliance, productivity, facilitating safety training, and health and safety consultants are often vital to an organisation. This type of occupation might appeal more to someone with a technical, engineering or occupational health degree but is suitable for anyone interested in the law, risk management, and implementing staff training and management processes. Annual salaries stand at approximately £35,000.
Popular graduate roles
Top roles are not all about meeting financial ambitions. Graduates today are placing more emphasis on jobs that offer progression, a healthy culture, work-life balance, and access to training and development. Here’s a selection of roles offering those all-important factors:
Graduate careers with bright futures
The acceleration of digitisation and remote working during the pandemic resulted in an increase of cyber-attacks rising to an expanding need for IT security specialists. Set to grow by 44% over the next five years, the industry will need skilled security professionals as companies make IT safety a top priority (source). Implementing safety policies, identifying security issues, data recovery and cyber threat response make for an interesting and ever-evolving role. There can be high pressure involved and demanding working hours but there’s also excellent potential for job security.
Technology has had a big impact on accountancy with Artificial Intelligence automation and cloud computing systems transforming operations and revolutionising the job landscape for graduates. This makes way for young professionals with tech backgrounds to carve out a career where they will be putting their software programming, analytical and managerial skills to the test. Typically, accountancy offers generous salaries and the chance to develop in-demand skills. The need for accountancy professionals is set to continue but it is a competitive career choice. Although it is not obligatory to have a maths, business administration, or accounting degree, it is an advantage.
Jobs with work-life balance
According to research from Glassdoor, data scientists came out on top as roles providing the best work-life balance, rating it a 4.2 out of 5 (source). Data analyst roles are growing in demand thanks to the proliferation of the internet, and the subsequent prioritising of digitisation by companies. There's a lot of choices too with organisations large and small all needing data professionals to find new opportunities, transform business models and improve customer efficiencies.
The tech industry is widely recognised for offering a number of benefits to ensure work-life balance. Flexible and remote working, time off when needed, and well-being days are often available, and contribute to a positive balance between your professional and personal life.
Being a web developer means creativity, freedom, and good financial rewards. Plus, it’s also more flexible than a lot of jobs - with many developers able to work from home. Web development is critical to the success of many organisations and the requirement for developers is growing. Switched-on companies acknowledge the value of their teams by providing a happy workplace culture with benefits that promote positive work-life boundaries. They also understand that recognising life outside of work leads to more content and productive employees.
Jobs with the full package
So, we might be biased, but it’s true! Recruitment consultancy is the career that has it all, from rapid career progression to high earning potential, and working in the exciting and ever-evolving tech market.
Can you expect a bright future in recruitment? Absolutely.
Recruitment is a growing sector with no signs of slowing down. Companies are finding it harder than ever to attract top staff, with many turning to head-hunters and recruitment agencies to attract the right people. With an average starting salary of around £26,000, you don’t have to rely on your degree to enter the industry and you can put all your personal skills into practice.
Work life balance? At La Fosse, we focus on our culture of care. We encourage our consultants to be the best they can be - but not at the expense of their life balance.
Rewards? We pride ourselves on doing things differently. And that includes the way we reward our consultants. Not only do our consultants get paid a competitive salary, every single one of us has shares in the business.
If you’re looking for a role in a growing industry that offers work-life balance and more rewards than most, consider joining us at La Fosse. Check out our graduate jobs page, or for more information about our positions.
Graduate roles for those with STEM qualifications
If you are studying science, technology, engineering, and maths, or already have STEM qualifications, your skills are highly sought after and will give you access to a range of interesting and rewarding careers. Although there are endless career possibilities, here are the roles that typically employ STEM graduates.
In the past 30 years, software development has ballooned from a niche profession employing a few people into something which dominates everyday life. Computers control all aspects of our daily lives, and clever coders and app developers are now coveted positions. As well as an aptitude for maths and computer science, soft skills like creativity, original thinking and attention to detail are vital for a developer. There’s also high earning potential with many software engineers headhunted for impressive salaries.
Hand in hand with the rise of the computer software industry is the growing awareness of climate change. Graduates who have a background in civil engineering, alternative energy, chemistry or geography can help find new, more environmentally-friendly ways of doing things. As countries around the world become more ambitious in tackling climate change, the scope of what environmental engineers get involved in grows larger. Many people go into this field out of a desire to make a difference rather than for the large salary packages, but if you are passionate about the environment, why not get paid for doing something you love?
If statistics and numbers are your thing you may be interested in becoming an actuary. An actuary is a type of risk manager who calculates the costs or effects of something which might happen in the future using sophisticated computer models. Graduates in maths, statistics, or finance are usually best suited to this sort of work. If you take professional exams and become a member of the Faculty of Actuaries, you may find it easier to move into similar positions with other employers. Starting salaries for graduate actuaries are around £30,000, and it’s a role which regularly features on lists of the best paid graduate occupations.
Biomedical engineers are the people who develop new drugs or come up with innovative ways of treating serious medical conditions. Graduates in biology or chemistry might be more suited to this sort of career. Many graduates take their studies further with a Masters qualification or PhD. In this branch of science, the salaries may not be as high as in other STEM careers, but it’s one of the few opportunities to participate in serious scientific research and mix with colleagues who are as passionate about science as you are. Opportunities are often available within large pharmaceutical companies, health charities, and large research organisations.
A final point on top graduate roles
A ‘top graduate role’ means something different for everyone but essentially, graduates like you are looking for the same thing; a rewarding career. Entry-level roles with good salary prospects, career progression, and professional development opportunities are usually the most sought-after. Aligning your personal ambitions, skills, and capabilities with what you need to attain your dream job is a critical first step in your career journey.