Figuring out what a good starting salary is can be confusing.
Any new graduate will know the feeling. You’ve just left university and it’s time to dive into the working world. Suddenly, you’re scrolling through job ads in your spare time and you’re looking for some serious cash.
There’s pressure to find something you enjoy that will also allow you to be financially free.
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But how do you know what a good starting salary actually is?
It may seem there are a million things to consider when getting your first job. However, there are a few things to think about when looking at the starting salary of a role.
What Is The Average Starting Salary For A New Grad?
Before deciding what a “good” starting salary is, let’s start by looking at the average salary.
Several factors come into play when determining a suitable salary for new grads. These include the industry, level of education, location and special skills and qualifications required.
According to the Graduate Jobs website, in 2023 a new grad can expect to earn anywhere between £21,000 to £24,000 before tax. However, this can be higher in industries like finance and law.
According to the High Fliers 2023 Report, the median starting salary for UK graduates in the “Top 100” employers sits around £30,000 - meaning this is likely the top end for a role straight out of university.
What Is a Good Starting Salary?
A good salary is subjective. There is no one right answer. Where you live, for example, and the industry you choose to work in, might affect your idea of a good salary.
For example, a “good” starting salary for an entry-level law job in London will be very different from a “good” starting salary for a customer service role in Manchester.
Thinking about your living expenses is a good place to start. Write down the cost of food, rent and socialising with your mates to see what salary could support you.
After tax deductions, a £25,000 salary will come to around £20,000. Whether this is enough to support you as a new grad is ultimately up to you.
Other factors may also come into play. As a new grad, there may be the option of bunking with your parents. Saving rent might mean you can sacrifice a higher income, but if you’ve decided to move to an expensive UK city, the average starting salary may not cut it.
Can You Negotiate A Good Starting Salary?
Picture the scene. A potential employer is offering an average starting salary, but you think you deserve a higher figure. Can you negotiate an average salary to a good one?
Usually, salaries for entry-level jobs are fixed. If you are enrolling in a graduate scheme, for example, all candidates will be paid the same. Other jobs may allow for some wiggle room.
If you do want to negotiate, start by thinking about what you bring to the table, and use this as leverage in negotiation. Possessing the qualifications and skills that will benefit a gap the company is a great place to start. Research the role and think about how you might be able to bring a fresh approach to it to try and secure a higher starting salary.
Research and budgeting are the key when determining a good starting salary. Factors like the industry average, education level required, location and market demand can all help you make an informed choice. But to get the best idea, look at your living expenses and decide what kind of starting salary you want to earn. This will help you decide what a “good” salary is for you.
Above all, remember this figure is just the first step on the ladder. Your career trajectory and earnings can improve over time. As your experience and skill set grow, so too will your value. Once this happens, your bank account will be sure to see the results of your hard work.
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