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Which university degree will earn you the most money?

Kelly 13th Mar 2020 No Comments

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Studying any kind of university degree costs a lot of money.

The average annual fee to study in the UK is estimated to be around £22,200. Therefore, wouldn’t you say it makes sense to choose a course that will lead to a good career? At least then, you can wave goodbye to the debt. Check out this article on saving money when choosing a university degree.

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. And don’t forget, if the cost is putting you off, you could always work part-time while studying, or cash in on one of these innovative ways.


Finance (AVERAGE PAY £40,908)

university degree

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. Someone who graduates with a mathematics university degree could go onto accountancy, banking or financial analysis.


Economics (AVERAGE PAY £41,144)

university degree

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)

university degree

This university 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)

university degree

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)

university degree

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 UNIVERSITY degrees?

university degree

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.

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 high. It’s much 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.

FINE ART: My choice of university degree

I studied fine art, which has a notoriously poor return on investment. But, I was following my dream. That 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. You should go and see the world and return to education as a mature student when you have a clearer plan.

P.S. At the end of the course, you could always sell some of your old university degree books. That will recoup some of the costs of the course!

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.

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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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