Salaries for Economics Graduates

The increasingly competitive nature of the graduate job market means that deciding to do a degree requires more than a simple love of the subject. A degree is more commonly seen as an investment: an investment in increased future earnings.

Labour Force Survey

So how wise has your decision to study economics been? There has been a lot of research into this area, with numerous surveys and results. The Office of National Statistics announced some research into graduate earnings in 2013. The graph below shows the average percentage premium that graduates earned over those without a degree but with two or more A-Levels (in simpler terms, if Martha and Cyril both completed 3 A-levels but Cyril went to University whilst Martha worked and then they both applied for the same job, it is the increased amount the Cyril will earn as a result of his degree compared to Martha).

Source: LFS Survey, ONS, 1994 – 2006.

This is an uplifting find. If you are a female economics graduate, you can expect to earn 68% more then a fellow female student who stopped at A-level. Economics also scores well when compared to other subjects: for example, compare the results to the increased earnings of a Social Science graduate.

The Complete University Guide

So, as a percentage, you can expect to get more but how much can you expect to earn? The Complete University Guide has formulated a table which shows average earnings by degree. You’ll be pleased to hear economics comes sixth, only being beaten by Medicine, Dentistry, and three Engineering subjects. According to the Complete University guide, an economics graduate starting work in 2013 could expect to earn £26,630. The average of earnings for all 61 subjects in the survey is £22,057, earning economics graduates £4,573 above the average graduate and £10,770 over the average salary of a non-graduate. So, if that difference is constant for five years, those graduates earned around £53,850 more then a non-graduate.


The Prospects site reports that typical starting salaries for an economist can be anywhere from £25,000 to £35,000, rising to up to £40,000 with a few years’ experience. For a financial risk analyst, starting salaries are around £21,250, rising to between £29,000 and £44,000 after six years’ experience, not including bonuses. Many other typical careers are listed in the guide “What can I do with my degree in Economics?”

Economics Network Alumni Survey

The Economics Network ran an Alumni survey in 2008, asking past students of economics a series of questions regarding their studies and their current positions. The results showed that 43.8% of economics alumni were now earning £40,000+, up 7% on the results from the 2004 alumni. 80.9% earn over £25,000 (25% more then the 2004 survey) and, with over half of these in the £40,000 + bracket, the salary for economics alumni looks good.

In Conclusion

All these pieces of research state different starting salaries for economics graduates in different sectors, yet they all highlight that economics graduates can expect to earn above average starting salaries, leading to a faster degree pay-back period and a better rate of return.

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