Are you currently studying one of the highest paying degrees?
University isn’t all about the highest paying degrees and which jobs they’ll lead to, but you can’t deny that it’s a pretty big deciding factor. Who doesn’t want to earn the big bucks once they graduate?
If you’re stuck on what to study at university, you’re not the only one! We’ve got the highest paying degrees and jobs to help you make a start on your decision. Of course, don’t let wages or job prospects lead you to a choice that is far removed from what you actually want to do — this is purely a starting point to help you think about your choices.
Below are some of the highest paying degrees and jobs in the UK to inspire which degree you study, or your next career move if you have transferable skills and each position’s average salary, plus the highest paying degrees in the UK at master’s level.
If you’re after more career confidence and advice, check out Futureproof — our new initiative to help you build confidence in finding work after university.
In this guide:
- Highest paying jobs in the UK
- Highest paid Master’s degrees
Highest paying degrees & jobs in the UK
Average Salary: £25,000
Starting Salary: £70,000
Highest Salary: £200,000
Actuaries evaluate financial risks and opportunities by applying mathematical, statistical, economic and financial analyses to a wide range of business problems. Actuaries work in many industries such as banking, corporate finance, insurance, investment management, healthcare and more.
You’ll need to undergo actuarial exams in order to work as one, which can take a few years, but the earning potential is incredible. It’s definitely for a numbers person who’s after a challenging career.
Average Salary: £35,600
Starting Salary: £23,700
Highest Salary: £85,500
Chartered Accountants have achieved the highest level of qualifications in accounting and are able to advise on financial decisions within a firm or for a client. Depending on the size of the business they work for, they can be paid over six figures. They can also choose to work independently and perform accountancy services for multiple clients.
Average Salary: £39,000
Starting Salary: £27,000
Highest Salary: £60,000
Financial Management is about making sure your employer’s organisation makes good use of the capital available. Duties include preparing tax returns and strategic ways of using the company’s money.
You don’t have to have a degree to become a Financial Manager but it can help. You will need specialist training from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Financial Accountants. Some jobs will even fund your training provided you keep working with them (else you have the pay the feeds back).
Average Salary: £40,761
Starting Salary: £30,760
Highest Salary: £113,251
A professor is an umbrella term for a lecturer, instructor or researcher (sometimes all of them combined).
You’ll typically have or be studying towards your PhD, but if not, you’ll need a high level bachelors and master’s degree under your belt. This is because professors need to demonstrate expertise in their field which is usually done through years of experience or through a PhD.
Average Salary: £41,158
Starting Salary: 28,243
Highest Salary: £110,683
A psychiatrist specialises in mental health issues. They can diagnose and help treat patients with behavioural disorders. Psychiatrists are different to counsellors and psychologists because they must train as medical doctors first. They later specialise in a field of interest.
It’s not an easy career but it’s certainly a rewarding one. You’ll have to undergo years of training and you can choose to work privately, in hospitals or in GP surgeries.
Average Salary: £41,398
Starting Salary: £28,000
Highest Salary: £66,000
IT Managers are responsible for what’s installed on everyone’s computers as well as the hardware people use to carry out their jobs. They’re also responsible during times of crisis when servers shut down and need to get things back up and running.
You may even have to work to a budget and identify opportunities for optimal workflow. A degree in IT isn’t essential but is highly recommended.
Check out our 10 best mini laptops in 2023.
Back End Developer
Average Salary: £46,725
Starting Salary: £29,000
Highest Salary: £75,000
A Back End Developer (or back-end dev) develops the applications a company will use. They develop them using various programming languages and therefore the developer will need to undergo lots of training in these languages in order to program solutions effectively.
Average Salary: £51,121
Starting Salary: £30,000
Highest Salary: 387,000
In terms of fun jobs that pay well in the UK, Creative Directors are responsible for the strategic vision of the company, client or agency you work for. They’re very high-pressure roles and you may have to work long hours. A degree isn’t necessary but it can help. A strong portfolio of work is essential though.
We interviewed Vanessa Spence, the Senior Creative Director at ASOS about her career in fashion and how to nail interviews.
Average Salary: £59,864
Starting Salary: £24,000
Highest Salary: £65,000
Train drivers start as apprenticeships with the training provider they wish to work for. It can last anywhere between 12 to 24 months and you’ll learn a ton of on-the-job training. It’s perfect for those who have good hand-eye coordination and can concentrate for long periods of time. Starting salaries are at £20k, which for a newbie is pretty decent. This climbs exponentially with experience.
Average Salary: £61,000
Starting Salary: £30,000
Highest Salary: £150,000+
If you want one of the highest graduate salaries then becoming a Lawyer may interest you. Even if you study law to become a Paralegal you can still earn a very decent starting salary (then look into training as a lawyer after a few years of experience). Be sure to look at salaries across the UK and abroad to get a good idea of what you could be earning as a lawyer or paralegal. It’s certainly one of the best-paying jobs out there!
Average Salary: £65,070
Starting Salary: £40,257
Highest Salary: £119,133
There’s a huge demand for doctors in the UK, given the doctor-to-patient gap. Because of this, it’s become one of the highest paying jobs in the UK.
There are various pay grades for doctors ranging from a doctor in training to a consultant (who often earn over £100k+). You can work in hospitals or GP surgeries in the private or public sector too.
Average Salary: £72,826
Starting Salary: £49,000
Highest Salary: £107,000
Working as an HR Director can be incredibly rewarding as not only is it an executive position, but it’s also highly paid. An HR Director’s responsibility is to uphold the HR department, enforce policies on recruitment, and employee relations and set goals for the team. It’s definitely suited to those who enjoy working with people.
Average Salary: £98,777
Starting Salary: £29,250
Highest Salary: £200,000
Want a medical career but don’t want to be a doctor at a hospital or GP practice? Why not look into becoming an orthodontist? They’re dentists that specialise in tooth and jaw alignment. You get the same training as a Dentist and extra training to be able to perform teeth straightening surgery and assess whether someone needs braces.
An Orthodontist is one of the best paying jobs with one of the highest paying degrees — so if you don’t mind teeth, consider becoming one!
Highest paying degrees
- Dentistry — average graduate salary £39,467
- Medicine — average graduate salary £34,012
- Veterinary medicine — average graduate salary £34,890
- Economics — average graduate salary £34,135
- General Engineering — average graduate salary £30,809
- Mathematics — average graduate salary £28,498
- Physics & Astronomy — average graduate salary £28,125
- Computer science — average graduate salary £27,500
- Business and administration — average graduate salary £26,496
- Architecture — average graduate salary £25,500
- Politics — average graduate salary £24,945
Highest paying Master’s degrees
Most of the jobs above don’t require a specific master’s per se (though can be studied to support your learning and application). In fact, most qualifications for those roles are done through a training provider, or require you to build a portfolio and gain work experience (e.g. to be a creative director).
Below are master’s degrees that are actually required to work in the field you want to pursue.
Masters in Finance
Most jobs you see that require heavy use of numbers are bound to pay high salaries. Some financial jobs require a degree (or desire one), like a financial analyst or management accountant. With a master’s in finance, you’re looking at starting salaries of £41,000+.
Masters in Computer Science
Again, a very number-based qualification to have but with a different way of working. Computer science is a broad field but usually consists of specialising in various programming languages, learning complex systems and refining existing systems within companies. In terms of starting salary with a computer science master’s degree, you’re looking at around £42,000 a year to start with.
Masters in Civil Engineering
Civil Engineering involves designing structures that serve the general public, such as bridges, dams, walkways and the like. It’s a highly in-demand career and starts with a salary of around £41,000+
Masters in Medical Sciences
There are absolutely tons of master’s degrees in medical sciences, but more often than not, practitioners must have a masters in this field. In fact, over 90.1% of postgraduates get employed. The salary range is broad, depending on the discipline and whether you decide to use your degree for something non-clinical instead. If you decide to pursue the clinical path, salaries will be high from around £30k-£40k+.
Which career has stood out to you the most? We hope it’s given you a good idea of the top-paying jobs and degrees in the UK!