January 22, 2016, by Carla Froggatt

Understanding Your First Salary

By Jodie Dewberry, NatWest

One of the toughest parts of searching for your first job is knowing what your first salary should look like. When you have no previous experience on which to base your expectations, knowing how much you can – and should – expect to earn after graduation can be harder than trying to make your student budget stretch to cover the entire term.

It doesn’t have to be hard, however, if you know what to consider. Here are three factors to take into account when searching for your dream graduate job – with your dream salary.

1. Research industry standards

The industry in which you choose to work will likely be the biggest factor in determining your first salary. Starting salaries for graduate jobs vary enormously; while a graduate entering a competitive publishing career may be expected to start on a salary of £12,000-£18,000 and work their way up the ranks, an entry-level role in a field such as finance could offer as much as £35,000 or more.

A good place to start is by using a salary checker to see the average salaries in your chosen industry. Don’t forget that these are not necessarily starting salaries, so it’s unlikely you will be earning the average salary straight out on university, but they will give you a good idea of how your industry compares.

2. Work out how much you’ll be taking home

When looking at salaries for your first job, it’s easy to forget that the figure on the job advert isn’t how much you’ll get to take home. A percentage of your earnings will be deducted for tax, pensions and, possibly, loans – including your student loan – each month, usually before you receive your pay cheque.

An online tool such as a salary calculator will come in useful when you’re trying to work out how much you’ll have in your pocket each month. When considering your expenses, this figure will be much more helpful than your gross salary.

3. Think about your expenses

How much you spend each month will depend on a number of things, so it’s important to work out how much you think you’ll actually need before anything else.

Where you live, whether you live at home or rent your own place, how you travel to work, what you eat for lunch and direct debits such as Netflix, Spotify and your phone contract are just a few of the factors that will all affect how much income you need to live comfortably.

While money may not be the most important factor when looking for your first job, it’s important to be aware of how much you’ll be earning. If you’ve found your dream job and are wondering if the salary is one you’d be happy to accept, taking these three points into consideration will help you make an informed decision.

Posted in Applying For JobsCareers AdviceChoosing Your CareerEmployer Insights