Which are the best paying graduate jobs?

We analysed 1,950 UK graduate salaries to find out which jobs were offering the most competitive pay packages. Results show that most best paying jobs are found in banking and finance, most of which are easier to land with a postgraduate degree.


Best paying graduate jobs - Overview

Rank Job  Base salary   Bonus   Total 
1 Quantitative Analysis (Buy side) 65,000 20,000 85,000
2 Structuring (Bank) 54,000 6,500 60,500
3 Institutional Sales (Bank) 50,000 8,000 58,000
4 M&A & Leveraged Finance (Bank)  51,000  6,500 57,500
5 Trading (Bank)  51,000  1,300 52,300

Money in the bank : The top 5 jobs are in the financial services industry. Even though technology firms have started to offer 6 figures salaries to attract the brightest students, the financial sector is still the safest bet for graduates eager to aim for high pay packages.

Not set in stone: Buy-side quantitative analysts are by far the best paid of all new recruits (85,000). Quants complete their studies with highly technical knowledge with which they can hit the ground running, making them some of the most sought-after graduates. M&A professionals and traders however will be the ones generating revenue for their firm once they reach a certain level of seniority, which will be reflected in their earnings, as they gain experience.

Best paying jobs excluding finance

Rank Job  Base salary   Bonus   Total 
1 Data Science 40,000 0 40,000
2 Legal Jobs 37,000 1,500 38,500
3 Product Management 36,000 1,500 37,500
4 Strategy Consulting 35,000 0 35,000
5 Compliance 34,000 0 34,000

A rising star : Even though the job barely existed five years ago, data science graduates are now being offered the highest starting salaries (40,000) outside finance due to the exponential demand for machine learning and digital marketing analytics skills by both start-up and corporates.

Old vs. new : These rankings are a combination of 'traditional' corporate jobs, such as compliance and strategy consulting, and jobs that have gained in popularity with the rise of tech firms, such as data scientist and product manager.

Most popular degrees among best paid graduates

Job Most common degree Most common field(s) of study
Quantitative Analysis Masters Economics/Physics
Structuring Masters Mathematics
Institutional Sales Bachelor Accounting/Business
M&A & Leveraged Finance Masters Finance
Trading Masters Finance
Data Science Masters Mathematics/Engineering
Legal jobs Masters Law
Product Management Bachelor Engineering
Strategy Consulting Masters Accounting/Business
Compliance Bachelor Law

Stay a little longer... Two more years at university yields a strong premium: 7 of the 10 best paying jobs are mostly filled by graduates with a masters' degree.

...Or work in sales. Banks' sales professionals receive the biggest pay package (58,000) without having to study more than 3 years. Nor having to specialise in science.

Alice Leguay, Co-Founder & CMO at Emolument said: 'We are in the midst of a structural change in the pay landscape, especially for graduates. For the last 30 years, a clear path pointed to finance as not only the best paying sector for young employees, but also a guarantee of substantial paychecks throughout their career. With huge growth in demand for digital and data skills by employers across all industries, new jobs are now emerging, competing with traditional finance graduate programme. And we cannot see a reason why this trend should stop, only if banks decide to step up their graduate pay packages even further. And even that may not stem the flow of graduate talent from finance to technology.'


Emolument provides bonus and salary statistics based on data submitted directly by professionals like you. It is free, anonymous, and already a trusted tool for thousands of professionals worldwide. Are you paid enough? Click here to find out now.

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