Graduate salary

Graduate salaries in 2021

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According to the High Fliers report, "The Graduate Market in 2019", the median starting salary for UK graduates in 2021 is expected to be £30,000 for the fifth consecutive year. However, graduate-jobs.com estimated that the average starting salary for graduates (based on the salary details of jobs posted to the site during the same period) was £21,000 - £25,000.

So why the difference? A problem with the majority of research conducted into graduate starting salaries is it usually focuses on the "Top 100" employers who compete with each other (inc. salary) to attract the "top" graduate talent. Therefore most graduate salary research is not a true reflection of the whole graduate recruitment market across.

Skewed salary figures can lead to unrealistic salary expectations amongst graduates. If you aren't starting your graduate job on a £30,000 salary don't conclude that it isn't a reflection of your value or potential value in the market.

We have created a definitive list of the realistic starting salaries based on the whole market using actual salary data from the past 10 years.

£20,000

£22,000

£24,000

£26,000

£28,000

£30,000

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

average salary

■ average salary

average graduate starting salary2012 - 2021

Average graduate salary by year
Year Salary(GBP)
2012 22,260
2013 20,373
2014 21,339
2015 21,366
2016 21,936
2017 22,118
2018 23,506
2019 24,134
2020 24,451
2021 25,507
Average graduate salary by sector, 2021
Sector Salary(GBP)
Accounting 25,585
Advertising & PR 22,322
Architecture & Construction 23,403
Arts & Design 21,754
Banking 30,111
Buying & Merchandising 27,372
Charities 24,792
Computing & IT 26,990
Consultancy 25,137
Customer Service 26,039
Distribution & Logistics 25,353
Education & Teaching 20,177
Energy & Utilities 23,764
Engineering 25,972
Environmental 22,149
Finance 26,100
Food & Drink & Catering 30,089
Health 26,465
Human Resources 24,920
Insurance 26,718
Internet & Digital Media 28,235
Languages 29,076
Legal & Law 25,240
Management 26,773
Manufacturing & Production 23,261
Marketing 26,159
Media 23,444
Military & Defence 30,137
Property 24,329
Public Sector 25,779
Recruitment 25,586
Research & Analysis 25,686
Retail 25,430
Sales 25,552
Science & Technology 26,054
Secretarial & Business Admin 25,547
Sports & Recreation 23,285
Telecommunications 22,534
Training 25,797
Travel & Hospitality 26,627

Example: Your graduate starting salary

You are offered a starting salary of £18,000 per annum - here's what you can do

  • Research whether this is in line with the industry standard for this position. There are a range of online resources to help you understand the industry average and what can be considered fair.
  • If you don't think the salary is fair, you can negotiate, but remember how competitive the graduate job market is.
  • Factor in the location, any perks that accompany the salary and any bonus structures also offered.
  • Remember graduate salaries often increase rapidly during the early years of your career. You can expect to see you salary increase after a probation period and when you start to make a valuable contribution to their company.
Next: 3 Heartbreaking truths about your first paycheque