Employability

Opportunities after your master's

Life after your master's 

Postgraduate study is a great opportunity to hone your interests, bolster your skillset and develop in-depth knowledge of your chosen subject.

For some, it's enough to know that there’s a host of new experiences on the table. For many, though, studying a master’s is part and parcel of the drive for a better job, or a higher salary. Naturally, many prospective postgraduate students will ask: "Will it make me more employable?"

Well here are some facts and figures for you!

Using data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and the UK Government, we’ve put together a whistlestop tour of the job prospects, salaries and general experiences of master’s students in the UK.

Will doing a master’s make me more employable?

Not only is gaining a master’s degree something to be super proud of; research suggests that further study has a career benefit.

Graduates with a master’s degree achieve higher overall employment, and many go on to earn more over their lifetime.

It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not a given. Even when you’ve tossed the mortarboard and entered the world of work, you’ll need to be able to harness the experience of studying a master’s and sell the value of your qualification to employers.

Graduates with a master’s degree achieve higher overall employment, and many go on to earn more over their lifetime.

What do employers value? 

It varies, of course! Most employers will (justifiably) look at the bigger picture of experience, interest and potential for growth when weighing up candidates.

But it’s seemingly the case that many employers are increasingly aware of the value of postgraduate study. And they’re factoring this into hiring decisions more often.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills predicted that, by this year (2022), roughly 15% of jobs (1 in 7) are likely to need a postgraduate degree.

Roughly 15% of jobs (1 in 7) are likely to need a postgraduate degree.

UEA's CareerCentral arranges over 400 employer events and connections for UEA students every year.

There's also a year-round programme of skills workshops, including:

1-1 advice and guidance sessions

mentoring and volunteering schemes

internships and placements

plus a Working in the UK event for international students.

It doesn't stop when you graduate either - we offer job search support for up to 3 years post-graduation.

The numbers

The most recent HESA survey contacted leavers from the 2018-19 academic year 15 months after their graduation.

It found that those with a postgraduate (taught) degree are 11% more likely to be in full-time employment than those with a Bachelor’s degree. 

But the difference is more stark in the kind of work they do with postgraduates tending to enter higher level positions. Figures from the Graduate Outcomes survey show that postgraduates are over 20% more likely to be in a highly skilled role once they graduate than undergraduates.

"Postgraduates are over 20% more likely to be in a highly skilled role once they graduate than undergraduates."

Graduate Outcomes survey

The outlook is pretty solid in terms of career satisfaction, too — postgraduates are 4% more likely to find their employment meaningful than graduates.

What about salaries?

Money. The ultimate taboo, right? Wrong.

Salaries are an important element of any job, and lots of people that study a master’s will want to know how that extra investment will pay them back. They’ll be pleased to know that research suggests postgraduates earn more.

OECD suggests that the earnings advantage for a master’s or PhD holder over someone with high school education is 95%. It’s 45% over those with an undergraduate degree.

A 2020 Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) report from 2020 suggests that, six months after graduation, postgraduates earn on average 18% more than first degree holders.

OECD suggests that the earnings advantage for a master’s or PhD holder over someone with high school education is 95%. It’s 45% over those with an undergraduate degree.

A master’s abroad

Many students choose to combine further postgraduate training with an opportunity to study abroad, and go on to benefit from varied experiences, language skills and adapting to new challenges.  

In an increasingly global market, employers are more and more looking for internationally minded graduates with the right skills and knowledge to tackle the challenges that globalisation is presenting.

For international students who have been awarded their degree in the UK, The new Graduate Route visa provides an opportunity to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, at any skill level for 2 years, or 3 years for doctoral students.

In an increasingly global market, employers are more and more looking for internationally minded graduates with the right skills and knowledge to tackle the challenges that globalisation is presenting.

The upshot

There are many evident benefits to postgraduate study.

While it’s not for everyone, those bold enough to take it on can expect a strong outlook in terms of employability, rank within an organisation, and salary.

The matter of career satisfaction is another great testament to the power of a postgraduate. If you think you might be interested — check out the postgraduate offering from UEA!