Engineers top graduate earnings table

A survey by The Times Good University Guide has found that engineering graduates tend to start on higher salaries than graduates from other disciplines.

The Guide, published in October this year (2014) ranks university subjects according to average starting salaries. Engineering disciplines account for six of the top ten subjects, and the highest placed engineering subject – Chemical Engineering – comes in at number two overall.

Chemical Engineering graduates start on £29,582. General Engineering students start on £26,362, followed by Aeronautical Manufacturing Engineering at £26,076, Electrical and Electronic Engineering at £24,639 and Civil Engineering at £24,524. The average graduate starting salary is £21,982.

The findings show market forces in full effect, higher salaries being symptomatic of the critical engineering shortage in the UK. By contrast, disciplines one would expect to place highly on the table actually pay less than you'd think – Law only comes 47th out of 66 with a starting salary of £19,598. Creative Writing comes out bottom at £16,093.

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As Nigel Fine, Chief Executive of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) put it: “There has never been a better time to be an engineer: demand that far outstrips supply, competitive graduate salaries and fantastic career prospects are typical characteristics of the engineering profession today.”

As Fine says, it doesn't stop at starting salaries. Engineers can expect relatively high earnings to continue throughout their careers.

In a separate survey carried out by the Engineering Council earlier this year, it emerged that chartered engineers earn an average of £63,000 per annum, up 14.5% since 2010. Incorporated engineers earn around £45,500 and engineering technicians £40,000 – up 5.1% and 8.1% respectively.

Such wage growth is impressive in the context of national wage stagnation – particularly pronounced since the financial crash. Combined with the Times survey, it serves as valuable ammunition in the fight to get more students taking STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects to fill our growing skills gap, which is progressively more pronounced.

A CBI survey from the second quarter of 2014 found that two in five companies cannot find the staff with the required STEM skills. And 59% of responding companies in the IET's 2014 skills survey saw a shortage of engineers as a threat to their business.

Hopefully the news of higher earnings will filter through to students making their subject choices, and divert their attentions from more 'glamorous' subjects into engineering disciplines, where new graduates are sorely needed.

With large engineering projects like Crossrail at the heart of the government's plans to reinvigorate Britain's productive economy, engineers have never been more in demand.

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