What is the average graduate salary?

Nov 10, 2023 | Attraction & marketing, Home Featured, Research

Despite the high cost of living, there has been little movement on graduate salaries, which are either just in-line with inflation or falling in real terms.

ISE Student Recruitment Survey provides an annual benchmark of what employers pay people starting graduate jobs.

A well as information on average starting salaries for graduates, it breaks down data by region and sector.

This year the survey reported the median salary for a graduate is £32,000, which is a 3% rise on last year, but worth £1,760 less than it was 10 years ago.

Graduate salaries by sector

Salaries differ by sector. Graduates working in charities, the public sector or the built environment are among the lowest earners while graduates going into law, financial or professional services or digital industries can expect to take home some of the highest wages.

Typical (median) graduate salaries by sector:

Charity and public sector £28,000
Built environment £29,500
Energy, engineering and industry £31,000
Health and pharmaceuticals £31,250
Retail and FMCG £32,000
Digital and IT £33,000
Financial and professional services £33,500
Legal £47,000

Graduate salaries by region

Salaries also vary significantly by region. Jobs in and around London are often the highest paid. Meanwhile graduates working in Northern Ireland and Wales are among the lowest paid in the UK.

Median graduate salaries by region:

Wales £28,000
Northern Ireland £28,250
East of England £28,500
East Midlands £28,500
North East £28,500
Yorkshire and Humberside £29,000
West Midlands £29,000
Scotland £29,000
North West £29,000
South West £29,463
South East £30,000
London £34,500

Salaries stagnate

Starting from 2020/21, following the cost-of-living crisis, the salaries of graduates has dropped in value to their lowest point in real terms over the last 10 years.

Wage stagnation and even falling wages has been widely observed as a key issue for the UK economy.

One recent report referred to the UK as ‘stagnation nation’ highlighting both low wage growth and poor levels of productivity. These problems are closely linked to wider economic problems of weak growth and high levels of inequality.

For student employers this raises some important questions. New hires, particularly graduates, are getting worse off in real terms. But, for the most part, so is everyone else, and so this wage stagnation may not be making student recruitment less competitive.

Thinking about how to respond to these issues in a way that continues to guarantee decent work and allows organisations to remain competitive is critical.

Read more information on graduate salaries including historical data in ISE Student Recruitment Survey.

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What is the average apprentice and school leaver salary?

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Robust yet competitive graduate labour market

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