How the subject matter, united choices make the biggest difference to your income

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New data on which students earn the most after graduation has revealed surprising factors that can make the biggest difference.

The most important factors that determine people’s future income prospects have been revealed in a new report.

The Graduate income: an overview of administrative datareport published on ComparED, is based on data from the Australian Taxation Office and revealed how much university students who graduated in 2007 earn.

The subjects students enroll in, whether they continue their studies and which institution they choose to attend, all have an impact on their future earnings. It also suggests that the influence of some of these factors, as well as things like a person’s ATAR score, are decreasing over time.

It’s probably no surprise that those studying medicine, dentistry, and engineering are among the highest paid, one to two years after graduation, and 10 years later.

However, nursing students who graduated in 2007 reported the fourth highest median income in 2009 ($ 54,131) and the ninth highest income in 2018 ($ 83,400).

Interestingly, nursing graduates earned more than those studying architecture and the built environment ($ 81,500), psychology ($ 76,300), and veterinary science ($ 73,800) even 10 years after graduating. their diploma.

NSW Nursing and Midwifery Associations Secretary General Brett Holmes said nursing and midwifery are highly skilled and personally rewarding professions, with opportunities for advancement in specialist areas including clinical , management or education.

However, he said nurses and midwives tend not to choose to enter the profession for pay because the nature of their roles requires personal sacrifice, including working irregular hours. weekends and holidays.

“Ask any nurse or midwife who just finished an 8, 10, or 12 hour shift and they’ll tell you why their skills are worth every penny and that they’re definitely undervalued, given the the work they do and the lives they save, ”says Mr. Holmes.

He said those working in the public sector had also experienced weak wage growth over the past decade due to the NSW government’s 2.5% salary cap, including a freeze on salaries. wages of 0.3% last year, despite a global health pandemic.

“We urge the NSW government to urgently invest in nurses and midwifery salaries as we are lagging behind other states and territories,” he said. he declares.

The graduates who earn the most

About 10 years after graduation, the highest paid graduates in 2018 were those who studied medicine ($ 169,000), engineering ($ 112,900), dentistry ($ 104,800), law and paralegal studies ($ 99,200), computer and information systems ($ 95,300) and pharmacy. ($ 89,700).

Students in subjects such as science and math, who reported lower earnings immediately after graduation, also caught up with others, dropping from $ 34,012 in 2009 to $ 83,800 in 2018, perhaps. be due to further studies which delayed their entry into the labor market but also boosted their earning potential.

Those earning the least were those studying the Creative Arts ($ 55,700), Tourism ($ 68,700), and Humanities, Cultural and Social Sciences ($ 72,700).

Education and Youth Minister Alan Tudge said the new report gave prospective students additional information to inform their choice of study program and institution.

“Giving students better information about likely future earnings will help them make informed decisions about their study options,” said Mr. Tudge.

Factors That Can Increase Your Income

For new graduates, the factor that has the most influence on income is the area of ​​study, which explains 10% of the difference in income. Other factors include whether you’ve undertaken further full-time study (6 percent) and which university you choose to attend (2 percent).

However, the impact of pursuing full-time studies decreases over time.

Ten years after graduation, pursuing full-time studies only explains 0.20% of the difference in income between students, but field of study still accounts for 9% and choice of university 2%.

The age of the graduate also plays a much smaller role in influencing the earnings of graduates 10 years later, explaining only 0.09 percent of the overall variation.

The difference your university makes

If all other factors are the same, graduates of Group of Eight universities are likely to earn $ 4,300 more than graduates of other universities.

Ten years after graduation, the report found that those with the highest incomes attended the University of New South Wales ($ 96,500), the University of Western Australia (94,100 $) and Sydney University of Technology ($ 92,800).

This list is very different from those that had the highest paying students immediately after graduation.

In the first year or two after graduation, the highest paid students were students at Charles Darwin University, Curtin University, Notre Dame University, and Charles University. Sturt, perhaps because these institutions have a large number of external students, who usually work during their studies, giving them a “head start” after graduation.

Students in the Group of Eight are also more likely to study generalist courses such as humanities, science and mathematics, rather than career-oriented courses, and are more likely to continue their education and delay their entry into the university. labor market.

What about your course and your ATAR score?

Graduates with higher socioeconomic backgrounds may earn $ 2,700 more than those with lower socioeconomic backgrounds, which explains 0.36% of any change in income 10 years after graduation. There did not seem to be any difference between a person of average and low socioeconomic background.

Someone’s ATAR score also had no influence on their earnings a decade later, although it did have a moderate impact immediately after graduation.

“The earnings of graduates with higher or lower ATAR scores were not significantly different from those of graduates without an ATAR score 10 years after graduation,” the report states.

Non-English-speaking graduates have slightly lower incomes for up to three years after graduation and they also experience slower pay increases, but their incomes rise later, reaching a median of around $ 84,900. 10 years later.

Indigenous graduates have higher median earnings immediately after graduation, but this advantage declines over time as non-Indigenous students increase their earnings faster. They also experience a greater variation in their income. About 10 years after graduation, their earnings are approximately $ 82,200.

The gender gap

A more important factor is gender, with male graduates earning $ 26,700 more than females ten years after graduation.

Part of the reason is that women are much more likely to switch from full-time to part-time work, as well as to experience periods of non-work.

The report found that male graduates earned about 4% more than female graduates in 2009, and by 2018 their earnings had more than doubled from $ 44,900 to $ 96,200.

In contrast, women’s incomes grew more slowly, from $ 43,000 to $ 72,700, an increase of 69%.

According to the 2021 Graduate Outcomes Survey, the fields of study with the largest gender pay gaps were psychology with a gap of $ 6,900, architecture and the environment. building ($ 5,200), law and paralegal studies ($ 4,900), health services and support ($ 4,800) and agricultural and environmental studies ($ 4,700).

Sectors bucking the trend were medicine, rehabilitation, pharmacy, and engineering, where median undergraduate salaries for women were greater than or equal to those for men.

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