What are the highest paying degrees in the UK?

Surrey graduates throwing hats in the air

When it comes to choosing your degree course, there is so much to consider when deciding which course to take. A good starting point is to choose a subject that inspires you and will drive you to work hard.  However, with the considerable cost attached to your study, it’s also important to know which degree courses will deliver the best job prospects in the UK.

Research undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that graduates from certain degree courses are more likely to successfully gain employment and earn better salaries. Although studying a particular degree is no guarantee of a better job, the research shows that some degrees, such as Medicine and Engineering, will improve your chances of better jobs after graduation.

The best degree courses for salary and employability

So, which are the highest paying degrees in the UK? The ONS found graduates from medicine and engineering degrees were the most likely to be employed and had the highest average gross annual pay.


In 2017, graduates with an engineering degree achieved an average gross annual wage of £45,000 - nearly double that of graduates of English, linguistics, languages and media. But a high salary isn’t the only reason to study engineering - graduates in this subject are some of the most employable in the UK and with a variety of disciplines to specialise in, this is definitely an exciting sector to be working within.

As a leading UK university in the field of engineering, studying at the University of Surrey International Study Centre will help you prepare for your undergraduate course. By studying our undergraduate pathway to Engineering you will gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to succeed at university, with access to state-of-the-art facilities and an innovative learning environment.

Graduates entering the field of engineering have huge scope in their career pathway and progression - largely depending on their specialism. Some of the many areas graduates move into after graduation include aerospace, chemical engineering, civil construction, computing and marine or environmental engineers.


Graduates with medical degrees also achieved an impressive salary - with the average gross annual wage of £44,000, again showing that your choice of degree course can have a major impact on your future earning potential. By studying medicine within the UK you’ll be gaining a first-class education, with access to a world-leading medical system. With work placements in real hospital environments, medicine graduates within the UK are in high demand.

University degrees with the best job prospects

So, it’s clear that what you study at university can make a big difference once you graduate. But which degrees have the highest rate of graduate employment? 

Research shows that graduates with medicine degrees recorded the highest employment rates, achieving a 95% employment rate when compared to graduates from other degree courses. Engineering graduates also achieve an impressive 92% rate of employment. 

With Medicine and Engineering topping the table, let’s take a look at some other great degrees to study when considering your future employability.

MathsBiological SciencesComputer Science and Business all rate highly in terms of graduate employment. Studying maths is definitely not easy, but there is a very high demand for maths graduates within the UK and across the globe. With some of the best maths degrees found within the UK, international employers will be keen to receive your job application. Take a quick look at the maths pathways available to international students at the University of Surrey.

Graduates within the field of Life Sciences have a great employability rate after they complete their studies.  Employers are eager to find excellent graduates for a wide range of jobs within biology and chemistry related fields. Life Science graduates demonstrate an ability to solve complex problems by applying scientific methods and ideas - excellent transferable skills for your future career.

Unsurprisingly, business and finance graduates are also among the most employable students after their studies finish, with 90% of graduates securing full-time employment.  With experience of real-world business problems, entrepreneurial ability and key interpersonal skills, business graduates have a wealth of employment opportunities open to them.

Veterinary Science is a key area of study that isn’t covered in the ONS report.  The Destination of Leavers from Higher Education 2016/2017 report, compiled by HESA, shows that the rate of graduate employment for veterinary science students is 93%, similar to those of engineering and medicine.  At the University of Surrey International Study Centre we can help you prepare for studying within this field with our Life Sciences International Foundation Year.

Highest paying degrees in the UK

Engineering and Medicine again top the chart for average annual graduate salary (OFS, 2017), with graduates from both disciplines earning nearly £45,000. However, there are many other degree courses that regularly feature in the top ten in terms of earning potential. 

Are you a budding entrepreneur? By studying business you’ll gain entrepreneurial skills, economic expertise and leadership experience - giving you opportunities in a wide range of industries and helping you secure a job with a great salary. Business graduates have an average salary of £35,000 - one of the highest paying jobs in the UK for graduates. Find out about studying business in the UK and how the University of Surrey can help you reach your academic potential. 

First-class computer science graduates also achieve an average salary of £35,000 and are are highly sought after within the UK and overseas. At the cutting edge of our technology, a degree in computer science will put you in high demand with top employers across a wide range of sectors. Find out more about the opportunities to study Computer Science at Surrey.

Or perhaps you have a passion for the law? Law graduates in the UK have an extensive range of job opportunities open to them - from the obvious barrister and solicitor roles through to a wide variety of unrelated occupations where excellent transferable skills make them attractive graduates to potential employers. With this highly rewarding degree course you’ll have great earning potential as soon as you graduate.  If you are interested in studying law in the UK but are not sure where to start, take a look at what to expect on a Law and Criminology degree to find out if it would suit you. 

Develop your career at Surrey

There are many factors that will affect your future earning capacity. There is no absolute guarantee of a good job or a great salary, but the key skills you learn at university will also have a big impact on your prospects and earning ability. 

That’s why at the University of Surrey International Study Centre, we focus on more than just your academic studies. We help our international students build their career and employability skills through English language courses, professional training placements, access to world-class facilities and a first-class student experience.

The University of Surrey was the first in the UK to offer work placements as an option to students and the University’s Professional Training Year is recognised as the best work placement programme in the UK.  Offering students the chance to apply classroom learning to real world situations, build connections in your chosen industry and develop key professional skills, the University’s placement partners are globally renowned and cover a wide range of industries. 

Through the Employability and Careers Centre international students also have access to subject-specific support on work placement applications, interviews and assessments, alongside skills workshops, careers fairs and networking opportunities. 

At the University of Surrey International Study Centre, we strive to provide world-class academic programmes, personalised support and excellent advice, setting you off on a pathway to academic success. Apply to join us today to start your academic journey.


Which jobs are in-demand in the UK?

There are many in-demand jobs in the UK. The business, healthcare and digital skills industries are always looking for new recruits. 

Some of the most in demand roles are:

  • Programmers and software developers
  • Cyber security specialists
  • Health services and residential carers 
  • Architects
  • Graphic designers

Is it difficult to get a job in the UK?

Like any other part of the world, the job market in the UK is highly competitive. The best way to succeed in getting a job is to obtain excellent qualifications that will put you above other candidates.

Which course is the most demanding in the UK?

Choosing your university course should factor in your passions. However, it is also a good idea to take note of the industries and sectors that have a demand for graduates and new job seekers.