Studying any kind of university degree costs a lot of money.
Seeing as the average annual fee to study in the UK is £14,274, wouldn’t you say it makes sense to choose a course that will lead to a career that offers a good chance to wave goodbye to debt following graduation?
In this article we’ll take a look at the top five high earning degrees and then investigate what it takes to successfully study them.
Finance (average pay £40,908)
Many of the degrees that are considered to lead to high earning careers require you to be enthusiastic about numbers.
Believe it or not, some people have a real passion for maths because it is precise and logical.
Mathematical laws are all around us, and to have an understanding of that must be a special feeling. A successful graduate could go onto accountancy, banking or financial analysis.
Economics (average pay £41,144)
Another one for the mathematicians amongst us, an economics degree will guide you towards roles in banking and financial companies.
There is a variety of jobs that follow on from this; statistician, financial analyst and, at the top of the pile, banker or economist.
Computer Science (average pay £41,950)
This degree isn’t for those with just a passing interest in computers; it’s a dedicated passion for pushing technology beyond its perceived limitations.
Accountancy and Finance (average pay £42,404)
Thanks to comic media representations of accountants showing them to be a dull breed, finance is a career that many people would consider to be somewhat tedious.
However, as we mentioned when discussing finance and economics earlier, there are some people who are fortunate enough to love maths and have a passion for systematic calculation.
Engineering (average pay £42,837)
I have known quite a few engineers, and I am always struck by how surprisingly creative they tend to be in systematically resolving problems.
Should I study one of these degrees?
The main thing these three careers have in common is they require systematic thinking.
They are also degrees that are commonly discussed by people who just want to earn a high salary.
If we’re to be realistic about this, you are considerably less likely to succeed on one of these courses if you are not passionate about the subject.
The cost of leaving a course because you chose it for the wrong reasons is infinitely higher than choosing to study something that didn’t boast a high return on investment.
It is definitely true that having a degree will make your CV stand out to potential employers. Statistically, jobseekers who did not study tend to earn a significantly lower amount, however many entrepreneurs (Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson etc.) became incredibly successful without studying a degree at all.
This influences my favourite source for advice to people deciding what to study, this speech to some university graduates in 2012 from writer Neil Gaiman, ‘let go and enjoy the ride, because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places’.
You can’t let go and enjoy the ride if you’re not passionate about what you are doing, so don’t choose a degree just because of the salary. Either aim for something you are passionate about or something practical and affordable.
At risk of sounding fatalistic, your choice of degree will affect you for the rest of your life. However I’m a great believer in following your heart, so the bottom line should always be ‘pursue your passion’, because you will have a more enjoyable life if you find your career pleasurable. Career satisfaction is very important, and this list demonstrates how many of the most satisfying jobs are ones that don’t have a great return on investment.
I studied fine art, which has a notoriously poor return on investment. However, the fact that I was following my dream gave me the enthusiasm to dedicate energy into achieving a good grade. I backed this up with great feedback and references from a variety of professionals both inside and outside my college, and thanks to being genuinely invested in the course I can authentically articulate a passion for my chosen subject, which goes a long way in interviews.
So be realistic about the cost of study and pay attention to the effect recent cuts could have on your pocket. Then if you still can’t choose what to study my advice would be to take some time out, see the world and return to education as a mature student when you have a clearer plan.
What are you thoughts? Would you choose a degree based on how much it could earn you? Maybe you believe you should always follow your heart? Let us know in the comments below.