previous page

How to earn a top salary

Earning a big salary is a popular reason for doing a degree.

You can heighten your chances of getting one of the highest paying jobs by choosing a course which will start you on a career with a top salary. 

A recent report published by the New Zealand Ministry of Education gives students an indication of how much they could expect to be earning five years after graduating from different degrees.

The report ('Moving On Up - what young people earn after their tertiary education') uses information on the average salaries of New Zealand graduates to show which courses lead to the highest paid jobs.

The data refers to students from New Zealand, graduating in New Zealand, but would this information affect your decision when deciding what subject to study?

Average salaries five years after graduation by subject area:

1 Health NZ$62,647
2 Engineering and related technologies NZ$58,287
3 Information technology NZ$56,958
4 Management and commerce NZ$53,791
5 Architecture and building NZ$50,597
6 Natural and physical sciences NZ$50,897
7 Education NZ$49,804
8 Agriculture, environmental and related studies NZ$49,157
9 Society and culture NZ$48,974
10 Creative arts NZ$42,575















The data in this table refers to very broad subject areas, which is why the averages are all very close together. But if you dig deeper into the data, you start to see some very interesting findings: 

1. Highest salaries - Medical Science

On average, Medical Science graduates were earning a massive NZ$109,977 a year, the highest of all the subjects surveyed.

It is worth taking into account that courses like Medical Science take considerably longer to complete and graduates tend to come out of them with much higher student debts.

2. Highest employment rates

The highest employment rates were seen amongst Pharmacy, Medical Studies, Radiography and Teacher Training graduates. Although, these are all courses that require longer training and result in higher debts.

Subjects that take less time to complete, but also had high employment rates include Information Technology and Civil Engineering.

3. All graduates earn above the national average wage

The survey demonstrated that there are huge differences between average salaries of graduates of different subjects. However, it also showed that all the average incomes were higher than the national average wage of New Zealand.

So, no matter what you study, it is likely that you will be better off financially if you do a degree than you would have been if you didn't do a degree.

So, how do you earn a top salary? 

Statistically, if you study Medical Science, Pharmacy, Dental Studies or Veterinary Studies, you are likely to earn a top salary. Other areas to look into include Civil Engineering, Accountancy and Economics.

However, there are rewards to studying any degree and a number of factors should influence your decision.