Did you know?

One of the main concerns that you may have about university is whether getting a degree will help you get a job, and you’ve probably heard that you are likely to earn more than non-graduates but what are the facts?

Graduates on average will earn more across their career, with an average salary of £35000 compared to Apprenticeships with £30,000, A-levels £25,000 and GCSEs earning an average of £20000

Fig 1. Office for National Statistics – Employee earnings in the UK: 2018

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), graduates are much less likely to be unemployed than those who did not go to university.

University education can open access to jobs that are unavailable to non-graduates and having these extra options makes job hunting that little bit easier. Not only do graduates have access to more jobs, but these jobs also tend to be more highly skilled and better paid than non-graduate jobs. The ONS has shown that having a degree can be worth as much as £200,000 extra in earnings throughout a graduate’s life compared to a non-graduate. For women, this can be even more as the pay gap is greater and earning potential is more limited in low skilled jobs than in highly skilled jobs.

Obtaining a degree isn’t just about gaining access to a wider range of jobs. At university, you’ll develop many skills that transfer into work such as critical thinking, analysis, communicating and influencing. These skills transfer well between employment sectors giving graduates the best possible chance at long term, stable employment.

Many degree courses have in-built opportunities to gain work experience. Universities work hard to maintain good relationships with a wide range of employers who can offer a placement year (often called sandwich courses), summer and eventually graduate employment opportunities. If you’re researching degree programmes at different universities, you can check if they offer a professional placement year as part of the study options.

And it’s not just skills developed in your academic programme. You can also join many clubs and societies to try out new hobbies, interests and sports which are not only fun but might even lead to a fulfilling career. There are often opportunities to take on a senior role in a society or sports club such as ‘treasurer’ or ‘social organiser’ to develop impressive skills and evidence for your CV and job applications.

You won’t be alone when it comes to writing those job applications either. Universities provide dedicated career support to help you prepare for graduate recruitment such as CV writing and interview skill workshops, online resources and access to friendly career consultants who will help you explore your options, identify suitable jobs (in the UK and abroad) and understand the application process. The career service website will be full of ideas for how you can gain experience throughout your time at university and how to demonstrate this to potential employers. One example is the ‘RED award’ where University of Reading students record the skills they gain from extra-curricular activities and earn a certificate which is awarded alongside their degree.

It may seem a while away, but it’s never too early to prepare for your next steps beyond university whether that’s graduate recruitment, further study or something else. Take a look at the career website as soon as you arrive and make the most of the services they offer.

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This article is from the free online course:

Live Smart: Your Essential Guide to Living at University

University of Reading