Health, engineering, and IT is where the money is at

Health, engineering, and IT is where the money is at

Listen to your mother and become a doctor, it'll pay more says a recent study by the Ministry of Education (MoE) on the earning potentials of different qualifications.

Moving on up is a report conducted by MoE as part of a broader research series on New Zealand's post-tertiary environment. The study combines tax data, welfare reports, and MoE's graduate database to compare the wages of different qualifications and fields of study.

According to the report, a bachelors degree in medicine has the highest earning potential five years from graduating, with a median wage of $110,000. Dentistry and pharmacy degrees earn the second highest, with a median of over $75,000 after five years.

Engineering graduates can earn $58,000, or up to $65,000 with an honors degree. 

The three fields with the highest median wages five years after graduating are engineering, health ($62,600), and information technology ($57,000).

Sadly for artistic types, a bachelors degree in creative arts has the lowest earning potential among young graduates, with a median of $42,575 after five years. The report also says this group has a relatively high representation in receiving welfare benefits.

Higher qualifications come with higher earning potential, says the study. The median earnings after five years for young bachelors graduates is 53 percent higher than the national median wage, masters graduates 86 percent higher, and doctorates can earn more than double the median wage.

Super minister Steven Joyce, whose portfolio includes tertiary education, says this information is intended as a guide for those looking to study in the next few years about what their best choices are.

“The data highlights the large variation in earning potential for different types of graduates, with those studying in in-demand areas earning the most. This report will be useful for students of all ages considering their career options,” says Joyce.

 Joyce has been a long time proponent of stemming the number of humanities and creative arts students, and getting more people into technology related courses. 

“Civil engineering graduates also obtain a premium in the job market, earning about $67,653 a year, 48 percent more than language and literature or sport and recreation graduates," he says.

Other key highlights:

- Those studying at higher levels are very unlikely to be on a benefit after study. For example, the benefit rate for bachelors graduates five years after study is 2%; while for those who complete Certificates at Levels 1 to 3 it is 10%.

- Employment rates increase with level of qualification gained. For example, in the first year after study, 56% of young bachelors graduates were in employment and 38% were in further study. With young people who had completed a level 1-3 certificate, 37% were in employment and 48% were taking more study.

- Very few young people who complete a qualification at diploma level or above are on a benefit in the first five years after study. The benefit rate is 4% for diploma graduates and 2% at bachelors level. But it is around 10% for those who graduated with certificates at levels 1-3.