Difference in Salary a Master’s Degree Makes

Does getting a Masters degree really matter? Surely a first degree is good enough to qualify for a decent job these days?

You’d think so, wouldn’t you?

But when you consider how many people there are out there with a first degree (ie a BA, Bsc etc) then going further and getting a post-graduate diploma isn’t such a bad idea. Certainly, it can help you clinch an initial interview for starters.

Post-graduate holders more likely to get a job

How do we know? Well, we have the hard facts to back our claims up. Take the Graduate Outcomes survey, from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), for instance. Based on findings from the pre-lockdown years of 2018 and 2019, it reveals that graduates with a further qualification are 11 per cent more likely to get a job than those with a first degree.

The statistics go on to show that 63 per cent of those who studied for a post-graduate qualification were in full-time employment 15 months later. This compared to just 52 per cent of those with a standard degree.

Post-graduates more likely to have a director role

But it’s not only in terms of quantity that post-graduate degrees have a bearing. There’s only the matter of quality. By that we mean the jobs that those with a post-grad secured were of a higher standard than their first degree counterparts.

Again, we have the HESA results to back us up. The data showed that six per cent of post-graduates were in managerial, director or senior official roles compared to four per cent of general graduates. That’s not a major gap, but in terms of those in professional occupations it was (66 per cent compared to 43 per cent respectively). That fits in with the fact that a lower number of post-graduates were in technical positions compared to graduates – 17 per cent and 21 per cent respectively. 

But what about that all-important salary? Does having a post-graduate qualification bring you a bigger bonus at the end of the day (or salaried month)? Again, it appears the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’

Masters diploma increases salary by £6,000 a year

Just ask the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), for instance. Their 2021 report revealed a Masters or PhD gave the holder an earnings advantage of 95 per cent over an individual with High School qualifications. The advantage was more than halved (45 per cent) for a first degree holder.

Using tax data, the Government’s Longitudinal Education Outcomes study shows that five years after they have graduated, post-graduate holders earn on average £5,400 (19.7 per cent) more per year than degree holders. Three years after graduating a post-grad’s median salary is around £30,800. The median salary for those with a PHD is £38,000.

The HESA graduates outcome survey we previously mentioned shows that 23 per cent of post-graduate holders are in the highest salary bracket of £39,000+ within 15 months of graduating. That compares to just seven per cent of first graduates. The highest number of first graduates (22 per cent) earn between £24,000 to £27,000. The figure for post-graduates is 16 per cent. This is backed up by data from the Government’s Graduate Labour Market Survey (GLMS) which shows that the median salary of a postgraduate in 2020 was £42,000, compared to £36,000 for a graduate – a not-inconsiderable difference of £6,000.  

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