After finishing your degree—three, four, or even five years of study—it’s only natural that you should be curious about your reward. Fortunately, you don’t have to wonder whether or not it would be polite to ask current employees in your chosen field how much they earn: we’ve done the research for you, using up-to-date research to determine not only the average starting salaries for graduates in major industries, but also the salaries associated with certain popular roles. So, if you’d like to know what your salary is likely to be as a graduate, read on to find out.
Published in August 2020, the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey - Longitudinal shows how several factors impact graduate salaries. The QILT site features downloadable, extensive Excel tables if you'd like extra salary details, which is where the bulk of the following information comes from.
Notably, it demonstrates the persistence of a gender pay gap, with males earning a median salary 9.4 per cent higher ($80,000) than females ($73,100). This represents a substantial widening of the gap in the last three years, having been 4.3 per cent in 2017.
Age has a positive impact on median starting salaries, with older graduates receiving significantly higher pay. For example, in 2020, the median salary for older graduates (i.e. those aged above 30) was $7,300 more per year in the short term (three months after graduation) and $6,900 in the long term (three years after graduation) than those aged 30 years or under.
In 2020, graduates who primarily spoke English at home earn a higher median salary ($60,000 in the short term; $75,000 long term) than those who speak a language other than English at home ($57,500 short; $71,000 long). After graduating, Indigenous Australians earn slightly more in the short term (median salary of $64,000) than non-Indigenous Australians ($60,000), but this evens out in the long term ($75,100 for Indigenous Australians; $75,000 for non-Indigenous).
There were no published differences between socio-economic backgrounds in terms of median salary for 2020. There was some previously however; in 2018, those from high and medium socioeconomic brackets earned the same long-term median salary of $61,000. This was marginally higher than the median salary of graduates from low socioeconomic backgrounds ($60,500).
The impact of location on salary reflects, perhaps, the influence of the high graduate salaries offered by businesses in the mining and engineering industries. Contrary to what one might expect, graduates in regional and remote areas enjoy a moderate advantage, earning a median salary of $67,600 in the short-term and $82,000 long (compared to $59,700 short and $74,100 long in metropolitan areas).
Reported disability actually correlates with a slight increase in median salary in the short-term, with those who report a disability earning $61,800, and those who don’t earning $60,000. This reverses in the long-term however, with those who report a disability earning $73,100 on average and those who don't earning $75,000.
The QILT survey attracts the largest number of respondents, with 120,115 valid survey responses collected in 2020. In previous years, it has been similarly successful in surveying a cross-section of graduates from different universities, professions, and backgrounds. Hence, its summary of salary changes over time is relatively reliable and encouraging. In the twelve years leading to 2020, median starting salaries have increased steadily, from $45,000 in 2008 to $60,000 in 2020.
Of course, attractive salaries aren’t the only way in which graduate employers seek to attract top candidates. According to an AAGE survey, many will also offer various benefits, the most popular of which are employee assistance programs (offered by 93% of employers); flexible work arrangements (87%); a laptop, iPad, or netbook (68%); payment of course fees for further education (50%); staff discounts (47%); paid study leave (46%); and free or subsidised sport and leisure facilities (39%).
When it comes to salaries, the one thing which can be difficult to learn is how much you can expect to earn at a specific organisation. This is where the GradAustralia insider guides come in handy! By searching an employer on our website, navigating to graduate reviews, and selecting the salary tab, you can read about the pay and perks offered to graduates, as well as how satisfied current employees are to receive them. By gaining a sense of what you might earn, you’ll be able to manage your expectations and put yourself in a better position to negotiate. We hope you’re well compensated for your efforts!