Is a 2:2 degree not the result you’d hoped for? With a 2:2, you can still get a job, a place on a graduate scheme, or do a Masters.
Hello graduate, and congratulations on obtaining your university degree! What’s that you say? You only got a 2:2? Well, while you might have hoped for a first or 2:1, it’s still an impressive achievement. You’re now equipped with three years of valuable life experience and a qualification that will set you up for a career in a field of your choice.
Read on to find out what jobs you can get with your second-class honours degree, and your options for further studies. We’ve researched and listed 15 great job options to go for, and explained exactly what your result means, as well as its implications.
What is a 2:2 degree?
A 2:2 result at undergraduate degree level is the third tier of grades. In that sense, you could think of it as being a grade ‘C’. In the UK, the grading system for degrees goes from a first (first-class honours, equivalent to an ‘A’) down to a third (a pass, just above a fail). Second-class honours are split into upper and lower categories. An upper-second (a ‘B’ equivalent) is called a 2:1, while a lower is a 2:2.
The data below shows what each honours degree mark equates to in terms of a percentage (score out of 100).
- First (1st or first-class honours) = 70-100%
- 2:1 (upper second-class honours) = 60-70%
- 2:2 (lower second-class honours) = 50-60%
- 3rd (third-class honours) = 40-50%
- Ordinary degree = circa 38-39%*
- Fail 0-40%
*An ordinary degree, i.e. a degree without honours, can be awarded to students who come very close to 40%, but this is at the discretion of the university. As a general rule, anything below 40% is a fail.
And this table shows you the international equivalents of the UK degree classifications:
|Sehr gut (excellent)
|Gut (good)/Befriedend (satisfactory)
For a complete list of the equivalent grades in other countries you can look up specific nations on the Graduate Recruitment Bureau’s international degree equivalents.
Is a 2:2 degree good?
Yes it is, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise! Completing a university degree is a difficult undertaking and anybody who leaves with a certificate saying they passed should be proud.
In recent years, the number of students getting 2:2s has dropped, while the number getting firsts has risen. There are competing theories as to why this is, and it has caused some controversy to do with the rigour and standards used to grade exam papers, essays and so forth.
In the most recent academic year from which data has been compiled and verified (2021/22) 32% of students in the UK received a first, 46% got a 2:1, 17% got a 2:2 and 4% got a pass.
Ten years earlier in 2010/11, just 17% got a first, 49% got a 2:1, 28% received a 2:2 and 7% a pass. This broadly means one of two things, either students are getting better or the standards required to meet the grades are falling.
All of this is unimportant in the scheme of things. What’s important is how you use the degree you’ve got to find a job or post-degree pathway that enriches your life.
Can you get a job with a 2:2 degree?
Absolutely! Every year, tens of thousands of graduates leave university with a 2:2 degree. In 2022, over 87% of graduates were employed in work, according to the government’s graduate labour market statistics. Over 66% were employed in high-skilled jobs.
Now, while it is fair to say that there are certain jobs or graduate schemes that might be harder to access with a 2:2 compared to a 1st (high-end management consultancy firms, the civil service fast stream or global investment banking firms for example have very competitive criteria) there is still nothing stopping you from applying to any job.
If a job specifically asks for a 2:1 or higher, your chances might be low, and your application might get sifted out, but this is by no means certain. By selling yourself and your skills and knowledge, anything is possible. The stats also show that graduates earn on average around £11,000 more per year than non-graduates (people who didn’t go to university). So, regardless of the grade you got, you have put yourself in a position of advantage by completing your degree.
What is important in the world of work is to be focused about what you want to do and how to achieve it. Nobody is realistically likely to get a job as a neurosurgeon if they studied law, regardless of whether they got a first from one of the most prestigious universities. It’s all about using what you have in terms of qualifications, skills and experience to maximise your work opportunities.
Below are 15 examples of jobs that you can get, and thrive in, with a 2:2 degree.
What jobs can you get with a 2:2 degree?
Below is an extensive list of jobs to consider applying for with your second-class honours degree.
With an average salary of over £35,000, an accountant is a great role. It gives you transferable skills, meaning that once you’ve done the training and got the certificates, you could work for any company anywhere in the world. Accountancy often requires on-the-job learning, so your degree result is less important. In this role, you would be doing the calculation, preparation, forecasting and analysis of accounts, budgets, tax returns and balance sheets. You’ll help companies and organisations know their profits, losses and expenses, and you can work in the public or private sector.
2. Police officer
A police officer in the UK earns £28,000 a year on average, and there are no requirements to even have a degree, let alone one above a 2:2. It’s a demanding role with unsociable hours and the reward tends to come from the knowledge that you’ve protected and served the public, rather than huge wages or accolades. You’ll conduct interviews, plan and carry out investigations and arrest criminals. There’ll be highs and lows, exciting beat work and inevitable paperwork. It’s a role where impressive work can get you to the serious jobs like murder detective or the serious crime unit. The kinds of police we revere on TV.
3. Teaching assistant
There can’t be many more rewarding jobs than working in education. Teaching the next generation and helping develop their academic and social skills is a fundamental contribution to society and you will be thanked for it. As a teaching assistant, you help teachers prepare lesson plans and support children’s learning from primary school age up to secondary, as well as administrative duties.
4. Recruitment consultant
While looking for a job, have you ever wondered what it would be like to help others get a job? Working in recruitment requires good judgement of candidates’ personalities as well as the needs of the employers hiring them. You will have meetings with job-seekers, assess their interpersonal skills and CVs, write job ads, headhunt high-level candidates and prepare people for job interviews. The money can be good, especially if you get paid bonuses!
5. Marketing assistant
The advertising and marketing campaigns you see and hear all around you every day, on your phone, computer, TV, radio, train, posters, newspapers and magazines don’t come from nowhere. Creative minds put them together based on audience research, feedback and testing. As a marketing assistant, you can help compile the necessary stats, write the content, manage relationships with clients and present results to your team. Successful marketers can end up earning huge sums by moving up through the corporate ladder.
6. PR professional
PR stands for press relations, and working as a PR assistant involves doing much of the administrative and logistical tasks that this busy industry demands. Organising calendars, keeping your team and managers up-to-date on schedules for press conferences and events, media tracking and editing work can all be part of this really dynamic, fun role.
7. Technical engineer
In the world of tech, high-level engineers need support. A technical engineer helps teams with tasks involved in planning and designing projects. You could be carrying out research, speaking with clients, producing reports and monitoring processes in real-time. There are roles across engineering for a wide range of big and small firms and in government and local government jobs.
8. Retail manager
As a retail manager, you will supervise, recruit and train teams of staff, organise rotas, deal with stock orders, plan special promotions to entice customers and provide top level customer service. If you’re a people person and motivated by consumer markets, trends, and an average salary of nearly £27,000, this could be the job for you.
9. Graduate schemes
Many organisations offer graduate schemes open to graduates with either a 2:2 degree or with no minimum degree grade specified. They include HMRC, Jaguar Land Rover, MI5, Network Rail, the NHS, Sky, PwC, John Lewis, Google and the RAF among others. An impressive list to get you thinking about the kind of career to suit you. Graduate schemes give you experience across different teams and allow you to specialise.
Copywriting lets you use your creative skills and writing ability to produce long and short form content for clients that can appear everywhere from social media to marketing emails to blogs like this one! You will learn about brand values, audiences, tone of voice and which words, phrases, formats and structures work best to get your message across.
11. Quality Assurance inspector
QA inspectors can earn close to £40,000 a year depending on experience. It’s a job for those with good attention to detail as it involves inspecting, testing, planning, reporting and policy writing within specific industries to establish and maintain quality standards.
12. Business consultant
Consulting on business can reap rewards for you and your clients. As a consultant, you will find business solutions, research market trends and opportunities, create and deliver presentations and use analytical and critical thinking to see and forecast the potential and risks of investments.
13. Risk manager
Speaking of risk, there’s an entire job category designed for those who are able to calculate risk, research and formulate ideas and arrive at solutions and protocols that mitigate risk or prevent it entirely, as necessary. Security, insurance, business and many other areas constitute risk and it’s a crucial job for organisations, reflected in the average UK salary for risk managers of over £48,000 per annum.
Another risk-obsessed job is that of an underwriter. You will work in insurance, calculating premiums (the cost a customer will pay for e.g. home insurance, car insurance, travel insurance etc.) It will involve data collection and analysis, negotiations and the assessment of risk. A risky business? Not when you’re earning over £42,000 a year, on average.
15. IT operative
If you’re hot on hardware, software, gadgets, programmes and network security, IT could be a long and rewarding career path. All organisations require IT and all require people to run it. You can find your niche within the sector, becoming a coder or developer at a start-up, or generalise by working on an IT helpdesk at a large organisation.
How to get a job with a 2:2 degree
Take your pick, fill your boots! But remember, be realistic, be passionate about it. Employers want to see zeal as much as ability and qualifications. Research the organisation you are applying to, thoroughly prep on what the job entails, do practice interviews and be prepared to impress and charm in equal measure.
It’s a tough job market out there at the moment, but your interpersonal skills can persuade an employer that a 2:2 graduate can deliver on the job.
Here’s a few more tips on how to impress potential employers:
- Research grad schemes
- Speak to a careers advisor
- Big up your prior work experience and skill set
- Take pride in your degree, not shame!
- Think about employing a professional CV writer
Can I do a masters with a 2:2?
Anybody with an undergraduate degree can study for a masters. Within reason, of course. Some masters courses come with very specific pre-selection requirements. If you see a masters course that specifies a minimum 2:1 degree to apply, you might not be in with a good chance. At that point, it’s worth contacting the institution and asking if this is rigid or whether they make exceptions, and under what circumstances.
The way universities operate in the modern world means they have to take on minimum numbers of students on courses to fulfil their financial demands or forecasts. This has opened up access to higher education.
Platforms like FutureLearn are also democratising access to education with online masters degrees from prestigious universities, and can be more affordable and more suited to your lifestyle than through other routes.