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20% more postgraduates than first degree students land professional positions

Published: Sunday, 27 April 2014   Category: All Graduate Jobs News

There are many different reasons to continue your studies beyond undergraduate level. 

A strong passion for your subject might be all the motivation you need to delve further and deeper into it, but with funding issues uppermost in many graduates' minds, the effect a postgraduate qualification will have on your future employability is also increasingly important.

For anyone considering a postgraduate course, the figures are promising. Data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that in 2011-12, 86.6% of postgraduates were working in professional positions 6 months after completing their postgraduate course. The figure is more than 20% higher than the 64% of first degree graduates landing similar roles.

In addition to increasing your chances of finding a professional job in the first place, graduates with a master's degree statistically earn a higher starting salary. 

Charlie Ball, deputy director of research at the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) said: "Usually the uplift is about £2-3k to start with, so first degree graduates might be on around £17-22k six months after finishing their course, with master's graduates on slightly more." 

According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, graduates can expect to earn considerably more than non-graduates – an estimated £165,000 more for male graduates and £250,000 for women. Mr Ball said, however, that there has so far been little research comparing the lifetime earnings of postgraduates versus first degree graduates.

The differential or 'postgraduate premium' would very much depend on the subject studied at postgraduate level.

Mr Ball said: “There are sectors where, in order to meet an appropriate professional level, you need a master's – for example, a master's in engineering is required for chartership – so naturally there's a very big premium for having a master's in engineering. There are other postgraduate courses where you can specialise in a field of work for example, by doing a master's in social work, which will boost your employability in that profession.”

Stephen Isherwood, CEO of the Association of Graduate Recruiters agreed that the field of postgraduate study would have a major impact on any future financial benefits.

He said: “If you're studying a master's which has a technical application in the field you're going into, then it's likely that the employer will look upon it favourably. But if you're doing a master's of a more generic nature that's not essential to the advertised job, employers will probably view you in the same way as other graduates. It's unlikely that they'd pay you more.”

Grad Plus has many roles where post graduate qualifications could be advantageous

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