plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

May 5, 2008

it doesn’t matter what you study at Uni

Filed under: education and career — Tags: , , , — plonkee @ 12:00 pm

Honestly, it doesn’t matter which subject you study at University. The degree subjects with the highest average earnings are medicine, dentistry, law and engineering. That’s because there’s a clearly defined, well paid job at the end of each of those courses. If you want to be a doctor, dentist, or engineer, then I’d strongly suggest you take the relevant subject at Uni.

Interestingly, the same is not true of law. If you want to be a lawyer – whether a well-paid city lawyer, or working for the CPS – you can either take a law degree as your first subject, or you can take some other subject and do a post-graduate law conversion course. If you want the well-paid solicitor’s job, then it doesn’t really matter which you do, as long as you get an excellent degree from a good university and, of course do well in the relevant interviews.

the reality of post-university jobs

Most careers don’t have a specific first degree attached to them. Most don’t have necessary post-graduate training either. Some of those careers are well-paid, and some are less so. But with any given degree subject you can earn a lot of money if you want to.

I’ve got a maths degree, there isn’t an obvious job that leads from that – most people seem to assume that maths graduates become teachers. Not really the case, teaching was an unusual maths related career to go into after my course, most people have ended up working in finance, others in transport, toy manufacturing, supermarket retailing, and cold fusion research. Some or all of those careers may require additional on the job, paid learning, but all accepted graduates with little more than good grades.

Now, you might say that maths is a *hard* subject, or that anything numerical is going to be ok, but things like media studies are joke subjects. I don’t think that’s really fair. It’s true that if you do a scienceĀ  / technology / numerate degree it opens plenty of doors for you, but these are only good doors if you like numerate stuff. If you don’t like that kind of science-y stuff, then why on earth would you want a job doing something related?

There are also plenty of careers that prefer arts or social science graduates. Publishing, tv and media, libraries, marketing, journalism and advertising. Some of these careers pay more than others, but you get to pick what you want to try and do, so you can take that into account if you like.

Finally, there are lots of jobs that are looking for graduates with no preference for degree subject. Surprisingly, in the UK banking and accountancy fall into this category. It’s not uncommon for historians and classicists to become accountants. Indeed plenty of engineers move into accountancy because it turns out the engineering, despite having good starting salaries, isn’t that lucrative after all.

what does this mean?

It means that the implications that your choice of degree subject has on your finances can be limited if you want them to be. Yes, many jobs with high earning potential are closed to, say, sociology graduates, but if you wanted to do sociology you probably wouldn’t have enjoyed them anyway, and there are plenty of other careers that you could pursue.

If earning a lot of money is important to you, it doesn’t matter what subject you studied at university, you can earn a lot of money, if you try hard and smart enough. You can certainly find a job you enjoy regardless of your degree. You may not be able to combine money, and enjoyment, but that’s true of everybody.

It doesn’t matter what you study at Uni, you can make anything work.

Image by tompagenet

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