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A report reveals the university degree that gets graduates a salary lower than McDonald’s workers

REVEALED: The university degree that gets graduates a salary lower than McDonald’s workers – and the courses you SHOULD enrol in

  • A report has detailed the lowest and highest paid graduate jobs in Australia 
  • Among the highest paid are dentists, medical workers, teachers and engineers 
  • Pharmacy graduates are the lowest paid in the country followed by creative arts  

The best and worst paid graduate jobs have been revealed in a new report- with one university course delivering a starting salary lower than what some McDonald’s workers earn.  

The 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey provides an overview of employment opportunities and conditions for those joining the workforce after completing their degree. 

The report found those who studied pharmacy were among the lowest paid workers in the country, taking home a median entry-level salary of $49,600. 

The average yearly salary for a manager at McDonald’s is $51,250. 

Pharmacists (pictured) are the lowest paid university graduates in the country – earning $49,600 in their first year of work 

McDonald's workers have the potential to earn more with quick and structured career progression at the franchise providing staff to rise to a manager position at $51,250 a year

McDonald’s workers have the potential to earn more with quick and structured career progression at the franchise providing staff to rise to a manager position at $51,250 a year 

The report prompted a seething response from Professional Pharmacists Australia, the industry’s union on Thursday. 

‘Pharmacy graduates are the lowest paid compared to every other profession in Australia and this is a major concern for the future of this vital sector,’ PPA President Geoff March said in a statement. 

‘For multiple years in a row the commencing rates of pay for pharmacists have been the lowest of any study area, and prior to 2018 by a large margin,’ he said. 

The level of pay is well below the median starting salary of graduates across the board in Australia at $62,500. 

Mr March said the pharmacy sector was increasingly important to Australians and competitive pay rates along with clear career progression was needed to ensure talented graduates are taking up the job and providing quality health care. 

‘PPA have raised concerns [to the Fair Work Commission] relating to the pharmacist graduate rate of pay being currently below all other award graduate rates of pay.’ 

A first year dentist can expect to pocket $84,000 – the most out of any industry – according to a new study of graduate salaries

A first year dentist can expect to pocket $84,000 – the most out of any industry – according to a new study of graduate salaries

Hospitality workers were also among the lowest paid workers in the country - even with degrees such as event management in the field

Hospitality workers were also among the lowest paid workers in the country – even with degrees such as event management in the field 

Among the highest paid jobs for new degree holders revealed by the Graduate Outcomes Survey are dentists who rake in $84,000 a year, followed by those with a degree in medicine who earn $75,000. 

Teaching degrees are also lucrative with the profession offering starting salaries of $70,000, the same as social workers, while the average pay for graduate engineers was just short of that at $69,500. 

Alongside pharmacy graduates at the low end of the scale were creative arts graduates on $52,000 and those in the tourism, hospitality, personal services, and sport and recreation fields on $53,500. 

Those with communications degrees did slightly better on an average starting salary of $55,600 a year. 

While pharmacy graduates were the lowest paid in the country in 2020, they also had the highest rate of full-time employment with 96.4 per cent finding a job in the field within their first year. 

This is well above the national average of 68.7 per cent of all graduates landing a job in their study area within 12 months. 

Creative arts students found getting a job in their field the hardest with less than half of survey respondents working in the industry at 45.8 per cent. 

The low pay rates combined with new pharmacy graduates having to complete an intern year before being accredited is contributing to a growing shortage of those in the field. 

A Monash University Study found in January there is likely to be a looming undersupply of trained workers and those in the field were planning on leaving within 10 years. 

Teachers are among some of the highest paid graduates in the country with the average salary of $70,000 available in their first year

Teachers are among some of the highest paid graduates in the country with the average salary of $70,000 available in their first year 

Top 10 graduate salaries by industry  

 1. Dentistry: $84,000

2. Medicine: $75,000

3. Social work: $70,000

4. Teaching: $70,000

5. Engineering: $69,500

6. Health services: $65,100

7. Law and paralegal: $65,000

8. Computing and IT: $65,000

9. Rehabilitation: $65,000

10.  Architecture: $64,700

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