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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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