Another way of collecting graduate earnings data

One of the gaps in the Australian higher education information market is institution-specific earnings information. Is it worth spending more to go to a particular university?

It’s always going to be a difficult question to answer, as field-occupation specific and individual charateristics are likely to be the more important factors. But it would be useful to have some more salary data.

One method of getting the data is shown by this US initiative, PayScale, written up in the New York Times earlier this week.

Payscale gets it data by providing another labour market service, helping employeers and job seekers test the market worth of various occupations. It has used the information on degree source, field of study, occupations and salaries to create lists of the top earning jobs and colleges.

They claim to be drawing on 1.2 million users of their site. As the NYT points out is not a random sample, but I would have thought that the main likely bias – it would undersample those content in their jobs – is unlikely to lead to misleading results for those wanting to test their earnings potential.

It will be interesting to see if anyone sees potential for a similar site here. PayScale works for Australia, so when they have enough Australian entries it would be good if they published a similar report on earnings by university here.

6 thoughts on “Another way of collecting graduate earnings data

  1. Pedro – I was so distracted by the US-only warnings in the college report that I did not realise that it worked for Australia. It seems for my broad occupation I earn slightly above average but $50K less than the best-paid person. There were only 11 persons in my sample, so it is probably a fair way off being useful here for statistical purposes.


  2. Why on earth do you need a specific stats on which University is more prestigious than the other? UniMelb, Sydney and UWA win; UWS, SCU and ECU lose. Chuck in some variation with some unis more focused on lower pay professions like arts and science against those with vet, medecine, business and law, sure. Add a dollop of universities serving different regions (where employers pay more or less according to the employers ability to spend on talent).

    If you want meaningful data with like compared with like, do check out The Good Universities Guide. It’ll give you the pay expectations data you want but also student satisfaction figures for the uni, its facilities and individual courses.


  3. “Why on earth do you need a specific stats on which University is more prestigious than the other?”
    Because things like pay and graduate employment rates are not perfectly correlated with prestige, which is why the ATN networks, which are generally mid-ranking universities do just as well as the prestigious ones on these measures (in some cases, better).


  4. I should say too that if you want to do postgraduate stuff or travel the world working after your degree, prestige is important.


  5. Pete – As Conrad says, this runs against prestige. The rankings they produced have the same general course compositional problem as the Good Unis Guide (though probably slightly less, as it US undergraduate only so the major professional qualifications are excluded), but the salary data is more useful because it gives early and mid career data rather than starting salary, which is not a very good guide to longer-term prospects.


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