Home Human Resources News Best and worst paying graduate jobs

Best and worst paying graduate jobs

by LLB Editor
11th Jan 12 3:20 pm


Most of us have been on this boat, fresh out of uni with our prized degree in hand, dreaming of being the big boss of a multi-national company.

But while a lucky few take fat pay cheques home and party at Movida every weekend, the rest still feel the need to do a graveyard shift at the local pub to get that extra bit of cash.

So which are the best graduate jobs, guaranteed to allow a decent bit of cash splashing? And which one’s will leave you scrimping and saving? Recruitment specialist High fliers has taken out the calculator to analyse which sectors pay handsomely and which pay peanuts.

Investment banking

Average salary: £45,000

We just heard that RBS boss John Houricane will take home £4m bonus despite huge jobs losses at the investment bank- testimony to how investment bankers be the ones with bottomless bank accounts. High Fliers estimates that the starting salaries of graduate investment bankers has gone up by atleast 20 per cent.


Average starting salary: £38,000

The rate at which marriages go kaput and businesses go bust, it comes as no surprise that lawyers at the nascent stage of their career get exorbitant salaries. But what’s interesting is that even though law firms now pay a quarter more than they did in 2007,  half the training contracts offered by law firms are likely to be filled by graduates who have already completed work experience with the employer.

  • We’ve got 49 legal jobs in London from £30,000 – £150,000+

Oil and Energy

Average starting salary: £32,500

Oil repositories have always been a stamp for rich companies and that’s why this greasy sector comes in third on the graduate hiring pedestal. Although recruitment levels at the major oil & energy companies is almost 25 per cent  lower than in 2007,  they are expected to robustly hire more graduate in 2012.


Average starting salary: £32,000

Most journalists might not agree with this but a budding journalist or a novice ad man receives a starting salary of £32,000. To set the record straight,  High Fliers does point out  that most graduate roles at media organisations were commercial posts rather than editorial positions.

Top Media Jobs in London

Travelzoo- Sales Manager- lucrative salary

Reilly People  – Digital Media Advertising Sales – £26000 – £30000 per annum + c 20k commission

Lipton Fleming- Online Fantasy Games – Brand / Account Manager- £32000 – £35000 per annum + benefits


Average starting salary:  £31,500

Advice is definitely not free and very much solicited and people giving them earn good bucks. Despite this optimism around the job market, the consulting sector has seen the most significant reductions in recruitment spending for 2011-2012.

Banking and finance

Average starting salary:  £30,000

If investment banking is not your forte, you can reach out to the banking and finance sector which pays quite well. High Fliers’ analysis indicates that there have been 570 additional vacancies in banking & finance last year.

  • Exciting Banking role that you cant miss- Austen Lloyd- Global Finance Solicitor- £80000 – £100000 per annum + Negotiable

 IT and telecommunications

Average starting salary:  £30,000

This sector might be indispensable to the day-to-day functions of a business but their starting salaries are considerably lower than other sectors.

  • Is this your next job? FreshMinds- Strategy Analyst – technology- £30,000-40,000

Armed forces

Average starting salary:  £29,500

Did you know that striking tube drivers earn twice as soldiers? And mind you, this is after the pay rose by a sixth in the armed forces sector..

Consumer goods manufacturing

Average starting salary:  £28,500

The consumer goods sector might be one of just two sectors reporting annual salary increases in 2012 but still features at the bottom rung of the graduate pay ladder.

Accounting and professional services

Average starting salary:  £28,000

Graduate vacancies at the leading accounting & professional services firms appear to have peaked after three consecutive years of significant increases but High Fliers predicts 2012 will be a good year.

Chemical and pharmaceutical

Average starting salary:  £27,500

Fancy being a pharmacist? Expect to get a mediocre salary in the beginning of your career. With virtually half the number of graduate jobs than before 2008, this sector was the by the worst-hit by the economic downturn.

Engineering and industrial

Average starting salary: £26,500

The sector might not be the highest payers, but the good news is that employers in the engineering & industrial sector have attracted up to a fifth more applicants last year.

  • Top Engineering job in London-UK Power Networks- Divisional Manager (West Division)- £65k plus excellent benefits


Average starting salary: £24,000

In a vast contrast to the banking and law sector, graduate starting salaries at the major retailers have risen by little more than 10 per cent.

Lucrative retail jobs in London

Straight Line Retail Recruitment- Deputy General Manager- £35-38,000 + 25% Bonus & Excellent Package

Habitat- Merchandiser- Excellent Salary & Benefits

FreshMinds- Commercial Manager – FMCG- £30,000 – £40,000

Public sector

Average starting salary: £23,000

With job cuts and pension disputes rife, public sector workers are worst paid in the UK. At £23,000, average starting salaries in 2012 are £6,000 below the national graduate average.

Related Files

Graduate Market Report

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