How education affects your salary

It seems obvious that better educated people are more likely to earn a higher wage. People get into debt to go to university with the understanding that it is going to pay off with a higher wage later. People are not even eligible to repay most types of student loan unless they are earning over a certain amount of money, which indicates that even the student loan organisations assume a degree-educated person will earn a high wage. A higher education will also make gaining a higher wage a little easier, for example, people with a degree are able to walk into a management job at Tesco, where a person with A-levels would be required to work his or her way up to the position.

Does a degree matter?

According to the chosen degree and industry, a person with a degree education can expect to earn between 10% and 300% more per year, and see a return on their tuition expenses within 3-5 years

An American study showed that people with a degree tend to earn more than $40,000 per year, which is approximately £24,000 per year. A person with a masters degree is likely to earn over $70,000 per year, which is approximately £43,000 per year.

In summation it seems that a degree does matter if you want a higher chance of earning a bigger wage. No studies however currently exist in the UK or USA concerning a degree-educated person’s ability to hold a high paying job. If a person is able to walk into a higher paid job on the back of their qualifications as oppose to their experience, then logic dictates that they are going to have trouble adapting to their new role.

Is education essential for a good salary?

When speaking about education it is correct to point out that most people leave Britain’s schools with an understanding of math, science and English. When speaking of education, the article is referring to higher education from a college or university. The very few people who leave school without any qualifications are often put onto basic skills courses by Jobcentre Plus so that they can learn math, science and English.

The “OECD better life index” has surveyed countries around the world and has rated them from one to ten, with one being bad and ten being very good. The British actually score very badly when it comes to education, with most people simply having GCSEs. The British only scored 5.9 on the education scale and yet, most people surveyed said they were happy or content with their annual salary. Britain scored a 6 for income and a whopping 7.9 for job opportunities. Given that Britain has a lower score for education; it seems that it is not essential for a person to still have good salary.

Realistic job prospects for highly educated and uneducated

In Britain there is opportunity for people who are willing to take on-the-job training. People who have A-levels and a degree are likely to earn a higher wage, but an unqualified person will still be eligible for a higher wage if he or she is willing to take on the job training. For example, the fire service has entry standards that allow people with minimal education to join up and receive training and education, which enables them to take home a higher wage.

The British Army, RAF and Navy take a different approach. They begin by paying you a high wage that gets higher if you sign on for longer. They will then train you in multiple fields such as standard qualifications such as GCSEs up to degrees, and alternative qualifications such as defensive driving and first aid.

There are many jobs in the medical and professional industry that are not going to allow under-qualified people to earn a high salary, however the commercial and tourist industry in Britain has a lot of potential for a higher salary. There are also people in the manufacturing industry who earn quite a good salary due to their years of service and high level of work experience. Skilled jobs such as carpentry, tiling and carpet laying also have a high potential for allowing poorly educated people the opportunity to earn a high salary.

Does lack of education doom you to a low salary?

A person’s motivation to earn a high salary cannot be ruled out as a leading factor in gaining a high salary; however, a study in the University of Carnevale, of Georgetown in the USA may indicate a slight discrepancy. Their study claimed that in Anglo-Saxon countries it is still necessary for a woman to have a degree if she wishes to earn a higher wage. It seems that men still have a higher chance of getting a bigger salary if they are unqualified than women do.

More reading

Admin Secret (2012). How Your Education Level Directly Affects Your Salary. Available at:

Brian Burnsed (2011). How Higher Education Affects Lifetime Salary. Available at:

OECD (2012). United Kingdom. Available at:

Pay Scale (2013). Degree education figures salary report. Available at:

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