Income premiums for study options revealed

  • Steven Joyce
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment

New information has been released today which shows what graduates go on to earn once they have studied in different disciplines at universities and other tertiary providers.

Four factsheets on the national employment outcomes for young domestic graduates, released by the Ministry of Education, follow the earnings and employability of students for the first nine years following graduation. The information comes from a dataset administered by Statistics New Zealand using the earnings for each discipline based on actual tax returns.

“Those with a bachelors degree earn on average 40 per cent more than the national median earnings after five years in the workforce. Those with post-graduate qualifications above bachelors earn even more. These benefits continue to increase over time,” says Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce.

The figures show that after five years those with a bachelors degree in medical studies earned 201 per cent more than the national median earnings, those with a bachelors in banking and finance and law earned 65 per cent more than the median and sales and marketing was 47 per cent above the median.

Those with qualifications at the bachelors with honours, post-graduate certificate and diploma level generally had even higher premiums than those with bachelors degrees. Graduates with a qualification in accountancy had earnings 100 per cent above the national median earnings, while graduates in civil engineering had earnings 91 per cent higher, graduates in mechanical and industrial engineering had earnings 83 per cent higher, while graduates in banking and finance had earnings 77 per cent above the national median. 

Those with sub-degree diplomas in civil engineering had earnings 67 per cent above the national median earnings after five years of employment, graduates with a diploma in the field of other information technology earned 37 per cent more.

“The highest earning qualifications include health-related fields, engineering and information technology. This underlines the importance of encouraging more students to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects at school and in tertiary education.”

At the diploma level, there were a few subject areas where earnings were lower than the national median. Those subject choices include performing arts where graduates earn 20 per cent less than the median wage and visual arts and crafts which has earnings five per cent below the median.  

“The release of this information will help students and their families to make smart decisions about what to study which will set them up for a prosperous future. To some extent students will always want to follow their passion but this information will help them to see where their passion may lead them in terms of future income. 

From next year even more data will be available for students as universities, wānanga, polytechnics and funded private training establishments will be required to publish information about the employment status and earnings of their graduates broken down by level of qualification and field of study.”

The four factsheets are available here:

The information is also available through the online Compare Study Options tool here:

Students can also download the Occupation Outlook app here: