Harrison Careers

The right major means big money…

Is it okay to admit that I am lazy?!

Not lazy in that I cannot get out of bed or that I watch TV all day, but rather “long-term lazy”. I would rather do less work than more work, I’d rather have more vacation, and I prefer a 3-day weekend. And of course, I would rather study something easier than harder. Truth is, I don’t especially like doing difficult stuff (and I’m sure that’s not an unusual characteristic!).

That brings me to reflect once again on choice of majors. First, let me say that I am strongly against anything that ends in “ology”. I am all about the cost/benefit ratio, and that means I prefer degrees that will end up paying me money. Yes, I know, it’s a terrible thing to think about money – but the truth is that money is about so much more than material things. Money can mean success, fulfilment, even a better relationship. But I digress.

I always complain about the difference between entry-level salaries in the UK versus the US. In the US, if I do a STEM degree at a half-decent college, and I make some effort to get a good job, then I am expecting to get at least $65,000 as my starting salary. If I study Computer Science at a really good US college, I am definitely going to get paid more than $100,000 in my first job out of college.

What about in London, the city where I will get paid the most money in the UK? Well, if I get a job with a big accounting firm in London (which is a pretty good job!), I’m only going to get around £30K as my starting salary. That’s nothing for someone who lives in London – all my money is going to go on rent and transport. What if I manage to get a job with an investment bank? Maybe £45K. A tech firm? Less than you would think, because the brains of the tech companies live in the US in Silicon Valley, not in the UK, so I’d only get maybe £35K – whereas if I was in Silicon Valley, I would be getting $95K. There is only one job out of undergrad in the UK that pays what Londoners would consider big money. And that is a top programming role at an investment bank. This pays £75K.

Hey, I know it’s not all about money, but really if you want to get a good salary, you have to think about the right choice of degree. We all want the easy option – feel free to shoot me down if you want, but I can’t help feeling that studying a degree in History or Philosophy or Marketing is just a lot easier than Computer Science.

As always, comments welcome!