Science grads earn the highest wages initially but arts students win in the end - Emolument

Sarah Spickernell
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Science graduates earn more than arts grads right out of uni but the trend reverses later on (Source: Getty)

Science graduates might earn the most when they first leave university, but arts students ultimately land the biggest pay cheques. A new study by Emolument shows that in both the US and the UK, employers hiring recent graduates look most favourably at the technical and numeracy skills of scientists.

But as people get older and more experienced, the trend reverses on both sides of the Atlantic. Around 10 to 15 years after first entering the workforce, arts students come out top. This is because the highest paying roles, such as managers and analysts, require less technical knowledge and more ability to see the wider picture – a quality the researchers say is more common among former arts students.

In the UK, people with a BSc earn on average £62,000 after five years of employment, compared with £58,000 among those with BAs.

Alice Leguay, co-founder of, said: “In the US, the generation of science alumni already five to 10 years into their careers is a beneficiary of a perfect remuneration storm: in a professional environment where tech is king, they are the first wave of ‘tech managers’ to come of age,” she said.

The US is ahead of the UK in this. A focus on technology is show­ing at the higher levels of employ­ment. On aver­age, grad­uates with 10 years’ employment earn 29 per cent more than their peers. In the UK, this difference stands at just six per cent.

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