employment

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Ever wondered what that piece of paper is worth? The University of Sydney Graduate Destinations Report is compiled from surveys of graduates four to six months after they complete their final year of study, and it provides an overview of employment opportunities, starting salaries and job satisfaction, amongst other things. I have some beef with the way the results are collated (the employer table is a downright mess, and what information is provided differs between faculties) but I’ll take the stats as generally representative of the truth.

The law is, I suppose, perceived as a veritable gold mine and thus a highly valuable degree, and with an average graduate salary of over $79,000, one can understand why. But the survey breaks it down further: undergraduates, on average, end up with over $51,000 while postgraduates get over $98,000. By comparison, those graduating from undergraduate dentistry earn, on average, over $94,000 and work fewer hours (34 hrs/wk as opposed to 36 hrs/wk). What’s more, dentists are more happy with their job (96% as opposed to 82%). Who would’ve thought? (And 40% of law students suffer depression at some stage. So, if you’re in high school right now and you think law is all glitz and glamour, take another hard look, although it’s still a great degree.) As for finding a job, 14% of law graduates weren’t employed at the time of the survey, but it’s not entirely clear how many of these were studying further or simply not looking for a job; the somewhat high figure could also be explained by the fact that the survey would’ve been conducted at the height of the financial crisis.

Of course, there’s more to life than what you get paid, but I’ve summarised graduate gross salary by faculty, and then, where possible, I’ve calculated average hourly rate. The latter table is useful, because it shows that while starting salaries can differ quite markedly between faculties, this difference can be explained, at least in part, by under-employment.

Summary of graduate gross salary by faculty

Faculty Undergrad Honours 1 Postgrad Overall
Agriculture $41,949 $49,954 $43,569
Architecture $33,885 $46,912 $59,552 $46,968
Arts $34,316 $46,189 $36,605
Dentistry $94,461 $100,875 $123,886 $102,315
Economics $39,572 $46,373 $52,494 $46,793
Education $44,131 $55,386 $49,205
Engineering $51,384 $69,075 $53,206
Health Sciences $41,514 $61,195 $49,662
Law $51,507 $98,927 $79,329
Medicine $54,271 $77,719 $68,300
Music $29,965 $29,382 $37,659 $32,126
Nursing $40,926 $56,856 $46,167
Pharmacy $34,542 $58,540 $40,424
Science $24,801 $48,878 $34,738
Vet Sciences $39,146 $38,690 $92,750 $48,036
Visual Arts $18,307 $29,330 $23,197

1 Data not provided for all faculties (but a blank does not mean that honours cannot be undertaken in that faculty).

Graduate Gross Hourly Rate by Faculty

Faculty Undergrad Honours Postgrad Overall
Agriculture $21.80 $25.28 $22.65
Architecture (average hours worked not provided)
Arts $22.76 $26.13 $23.46
Dentistry $53.43 $48.50 $61.09 $54.66
Economics (average hours worked not provided)
Education $24.96 $29.59 $26.28
Engineering $25.34 $34.96 $26.93
Health Sciences $22.81 $32.69 $27.29
Law $27.51 $45.30 $37.21
Medicine (average hours worked not provided)
Music $26.19 $23.54 $25.86 $25.74
Nursing $21.27 $28.77 $24.00
Pharmacy $17.48 $31.27 $21.01
Science $21.68 $26.86 $24.74
Vet Sciences $17.51 $18.15 $44.59 $22.53
Visual Arts $14.67 $20.89 $18.59

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