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Which degree course?

Many students know exactly what they wish to study and if you fall into this category then you should pursue this route, particularly if it’s vocational. You need to be genuinely interested in the subject you choose, as studying a single subject for a minimum of 3 years is hard work if you do not enjoy it. It also requires significant self-motivation, as university unlike school will generally leave you to your own devices. So choose well.

However you may find that you do not have a real preference or desire to pursue a particular subject. If this is the case, why not consider the subject that will position you best when looking for a graduate job.

A study in 2014, showed that nearly 40 per cent of graduates were looking for work six months after graduation, while a quarter are still unemployed after a year. Conducted by the graduate recruitment website Totaljobs.com, the survey also shows that almost half of all graduates wished they had steered clear of academic courses, opting for ‘something more vocational’ instead. 

Therefore when selecting a degree, choose one that you feel also has a strong route to employment.

Here are 2 lists for you to consider. The first are the graduate prospects by subject showing the % of students in a professional job. ( the top 25 slots are taken with science subjects!) alongside the average starting salary in a professional role. The average salary in a non professional role is c20-30% lower. The 2nd list is an analysis of graduate vacancies in 2014 by industry/business sector for the top 100 graduate employers.

Graduate Prospects:

1. Medicine: 99.3% (£28,683)

2. Dentistry: 98.9% (£30,348)

3. Nursing: 96.3% ( £22,928)

4. Radiography: 95.2% (£22,238)

5. Veterinary Medicine: 95.1% (£26,071)

6. Physiotherapy: 92.4% (£22,014)

7. Pharmacology & Pharmacy: 91.3% (£19,597)

8. Land and Property Management: 82.6% (£23,733)

9. Building: 82.2% (£23,707)

10. Civil Engineering: 81.9% (£24,776)

11. General Engineering: 80.3% (£27,493)

12. Town and Country Planning & Landscape: 79.5% (£21,960)

13. Mechanical Engineering: 79% (£26,366)

14. Architecture: 78.8% (£18,936)

15. Chemical Engineering: 77.9% ( £28,641)

16. Physics & Astronomy: 77.1% (£24,976)

17. Other subjects allied to medicine: 76.9% (£20,760)

18. Chemistry: 76.5% (£22,232)

19. Electrical and Electronic Engineering: 74.4% (£25,191)

20. Economics: 73.9% (£26,630)

21. Maths: 73.8% ( £24,119)

22. Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering: 73.4% (£24,969)

23. Anatomy & Physiology: 73.2% (£21,225)

24. Education: 71.2% (£21,369)

25=Computer Science: 71% ( £23,766)

25=Law: 71% (£19,699)

27. German: 69.9% (£21,232)

28. Celtic Studies: 69.8% (£18,497)

29. Social Work: 68.8% ( £24,007)

30. Geology: 68.4% (£23,039)

31=Librainship & Informtion Management: 68.3%( £20,177)

31=French: 68.3% (£20,492)

33. Middle Eastern and African Studies: 67.9% (£19,441)

34. Classics and Ancient History: 67.8% (£21,635)

35. Materials Technology:67.7% (£22,581)

36. Theology & Religious Studies: 66.3% (£20,476)

37. Food Science: 66.1% (£20,901)

38. Iberian Languages: 66% (£20,171)

39. Politics: 65.6% (£21,940)

40. Accounting % Finance: 64.5% (£22.357)

41. Philosophy: 64.2% (£21,362)

42. Italian: 64% (£19,632)

43. Music: 63.4% (£17,497)

44. Biological Sciences: 63.2% (£20,097)

45. Geography: 62.5% (£21,210)

46. Russian: 62.3% (£21,518)

47. American Studies: 62% (£19, 410)

48. Business Studies: 61.5% (£22,449)

49. Sports Science: 60.7% (£18,753)

50. Lingusitics: 60.5% (£18,949)

51=English: 59.1% (£18,863)

51=History: 59.1% (£20,456)

53. History of Art: 58.7% (£19,274)

54. Art & Design: 58% (£18,233)

55. Archaeology: 56.4% (£19,517)

56.Agriculture & Forestry: 55.8% (£20,285)

57.Anthropology: 55% (£19,990)

58. Psychology: 54.9% (£18,973)

59. East & South Asian Studies: 53.9% (£19,075)

60.Communications & Media Studies: 52.3% (£18,179)

61. Drama, dance and Cinematics:51.5% (£16,963)

62. Social Policy: 51.1% (£20,304)

63. Hospitality, Leisure & Tourism: 48.7% (£19,369)

64. Sociology: 48.3% (£19,651)

65. Creative Writing: 45.4% (£17,268)

66. Animal Science: 38.9% (£18,327)

 

 

Industry or Business Sector

2014 Vacancies

Accounting & Professional Services 4,600
Armed forces 1,050
Banking & Finance 840
 Consulting 600
Consumer Goods 423
Engineering & Industrial 1,575
Investment Banking 2,265
IT & Telecommunications 600
Law 714
Media 368
Oil & Energy 540
Public sector (includes Teach First) 3,280
Retailing 1,520

All Sectors

18,308

 

 

However do not be misled by what the company does necessarily. The most common requirement is for finance and IT vacancies – more than half of employers offer roles in these areas, irrespective of the organisations main purpose.

See below:

"If you have the ability and aptitude to read Maths, Physics, Economics, Engineering, or Chemistry,
then seriously consider these options."

As you can see from the above tables, many of the graduate roles are in companies that are financial or scientific.

When choosing your degree subject to read, here are a few other considerations: 

  • Take a look at finance & management courses – these have great applicability and are well respected.
  • Business management degrees are proving increasingly popular, with employers particularly, as many have work experience built into their course. They provide experience that employers feel is more relevant to the corporate world than some other disciplines.
  • Seriously consider engineering if you have a maths and physics aptitude. It is a highly respected degree and you do not need to go into engineering. It may set you apart from other students when applying for roles. Oxford offers a very interesting course called EEM – engineering, economics and management.
  • Law is another respected degree, has great applicability in the corporate world and you do not need to pursue a legal career afterwards. One issue here is that law has a reputation for being a rather tedious degree!! You need to enjoy reading large tomes.
  • Languages are also popular, but consider combining them with another subject like economics. You may find that this increases your attractiveness to employers. The problem with studying languages is that the continental European students will outclass you nearly every time. They are generally fluent in a number of languages in addition to studying a subject like finance and management. Alternatively become fluent in a language by living abroad for a year or two and then study something else.
  • If you are considering studying politics or philosophy –why not consider a combined course with economics. This will strengthen your degree.
  • If you are interested in economics but are concerned about the maths, look at courses on Business Economics or Industrial Economics – these tend to be less mathematical.
  • If you know you want to get into the fashion world, then ensure you choose the most applicable degree – this will in the fashion design & textiles area. Choose a sandwich course so you get some work experience.

 

Types of Graduate Vacancies 2014

% of top graduate employers

IT 56%
Finance 54%
Human Resurces 44%
Marketing 38%
Engineering 32%
General Management 28%
Sales 25%
R&D 25%
Transport & logistics 23%
Puchasing 22%
Accountancy 20%
Consulting 18%
Retailing 17%
Law 16%
 Investment Banking  11%
 Media  7%

Business Sector

Average Graduate Starting Salary 2014

Investment banking £45,000
Law £39,000
Oil & Energy £32,500
Banking & Finance £33,000
Consulting £31,500
Media £27,000
Armed Forces £25,000
Medicine (Doctor) £28,000
Consumer Goods £29,000
IT & Telecommunications £29,500
Accounting & Professional Services £30,000
Engineering & industrial £26,500
Retail £25,000
Public Sector £22,400
   

Employers respect numerical disciplines above many other subjects.

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