Can you guess which are the highest paying subjects?

Can you guess which are the highest paying subjects?

Careers Blog

While it’s important to follow your passion and interests and choose subjects you are good at, it’s also worth considering those that are known to pave the way to lucrative careers and well-paid jobs.

So which subjects lead to the biggest wage packet? And will it benefit you financially in the future if you choose A Levels — or will you earn just as much by taking a vocational Level 3 qualification?

A Levels vs Vocational (BTECs) Level 3 qualifications

Data published by the Department for Education reveals that in some cases, those who took a Level 3 vocational qualification were actually earning more five years later than a student who studied A Levels. Students who achieved a Level 3 qualification in Economics, for instance, were on average, earning around £4,000 per year more than those who studied Economics at A Level! Surprising, yes?

STEM subjects dominate

In the list of top earning A Level subjects, predictably perhaps, STEM subjects dominated with Further Maths and Maths in first and second place. The research showed that sixth formers who took A Level Further Maths earn on average £25,600 by the age of 24 and the top 20 per cent of Further Maths students earn up to £31,500 at that age. An A Level in Maths can add between £6,000 and £10,000 to a salary in just six years.

In other Level 3 qualifications, Economics (£27,700) and Engineering (£26,000) were first and second in the vocational table, placing them both higher than the same subjects at A Level.

Top 10 most lucrative A Level subjects and average earnings

  1. Further Mathematics — £25,600 — dives deeper into complex mathematical concepts and is highly valued by top universities and employers. It’s particularly beneficial for pursuing careers in research, academia or fields like cryptography or quantitative finance.
  2. Maths — £24,900 — provides students with a strong foundation in problem-solving, logical thinking and analytical skills. Can lead to careers in finance, data analysis, engineering, and computer science, all with excellent earning potential.
  3. Physics — £24,100 — another notoriously difficult subject. Often seen as a prerequisite for students wanting to study engineering or the sciences at university. Careers could include Meteorologist, Data analyst, Systems analyst, Air Traffic Controller, Geophysicist or Electronics Engineer.
  4. Economics — £23,900 — can lead to rewarding careers in finance, banking, consultancy, and government. Economists analyse economic data, assess trends, and provide insights that guide decision-making. Professionals in this field have the potential for rapid career progression, especially in financial hubs like London.
  5. Engineering — £23,800 — Engineers work in many industries, including aerospace, biomedical manufacturing, agriculture, and infrastructure. There are positions for mechanical engineers, manufacturing engineers and electrical engineers and with the right skills and experience, engineers can command impressive salaries.
  6. Design and Technology (systems and control) — £22,700 — this subject builds creativity, problem solving, planning, and evaluation skills. Careers could include Sound engineer, Graphic designer, Interior designer, Product designer, Web developer and as technology advances there are many positions required for digital design and technology.
  7. Computing/Computer Science — £22,500 — prepares students for roles in software development, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and data science. The tech industry is known for its well-paying positions and continuous demand for skilled professionals.
  8. Chemistry — £22,400 — can open doors to numerous high-paying career paths. It is a pre-requisite for professions such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and veterinary science. Additionally, fields like pharmaceuticals and biotechnology offer lucrative opportunities.
  9. Modern Foreign Languages — £22,200 — in an increasingly globalised world, proficiency in a foreign language can be a valuable asset. An A Level in French, Spanish or German, for instance, can lead to careers in international business, diplomacy, translation, and tourism. Bilingual professionals often enjoy higher earning potential and unique opportunities to work on a global scale.
  10. Law — £22,000 — An A Level in Law provides a solid foundation for pursuing a career in the legal field. Becoming a solicitor or barrister can be financially rewarding, with potential for high salaries once extensive training is complete and you are established in the profession.

The least lucrative subjects at A level were Urdu (£13,900), Arabic (£14,600) and Greek (£14,700) and the lowest earnings were recorded in other vocational subjects for child development and wellbeing (£14,700), social enterprises (£14,700) and direct learning support (£15,000).