What Uni Degrees Are Aussie Employers Looking For?

03/12/2015 3:34 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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With more than 1.3 million students enrolled in higher education across Australia, it's key that a degree helps convince an employer you're the right candidate for the job.

So whether you're keen on business, law, science, IT, arts, engineering or something in between, we thought we'd take a look at a few of the degrees that will give you the edge in 2016 and beyond.

Business and law degrees in high demand

Fusion graduate consultancy's David Cvetkovski is behind the Top 100 Future Graduates competition, which attracts about 2500 competitors and is backed by some of Australia's biggest companies.


Employers are looking for IT, commerce and law graduates.

Cvetkovski says grads with commerce degrees, especially those with legal components, are ideally placed for employment at the moment.

The HR specialist says bachelors of commerce with majors in business and a sub-major in management, economics, finance or accounting are always very popular degrees with employers.

Combined commerce/law degrees are also "popular right now", he says, especially with government departments.

"For business, it'd probably be the most popular area graduates are coming out of."

IT, computer science and HR degrees highly desirable

Technology degrees like computer science and information technology are also very sought-after right now, with female students especially well placed after graduation, Cvetkovski says.

"Females in technology are probably the most sought after candidate in the Asia Pacific at the moment. Computer science or bachelor of information technology are the most employable."

He says a big reason for that is because in 2015 less than 13 percent of students in the field are female.

"Businesses are going 'hey we need to filter from the bottom up, from grad level up to executive level we need some gender equality' which is on their radars."


Female IT students are increasingly sought after by employers.

A human resources or psychology degree is another good option, with young male grads in the box seat.

"I run an assessment centre for HR and if I've got 20 candidates in there, all of them 25-years-of-age, there's often only one bloke. So if he's any chop he's going to get the job," Cvetkovski says.

According to 2014 McCrindle Research, other employable degree areas include surveying, urban planning, rehabilitation and electrical engineering.

Opportunities Abundant For Business Analytics Professionals

Professor Kok-Leong Ong, of La Trobe University, says job prospects are also very good for its Master of Business Analytics, to be offered from 2016.

Ong says the 2-year degree, ideal for business or IT graduates, is on the radar for lots of employers like big telcos and government departments that want to use analytic tools to make sense of "big data" and guide business decisions.

"That's one of the hottest jobs you can be doing," Ong says, adding that graduates can expect to make up to $190,000 per year after completing the course.

He says demand from corporates and governments is expected to be strong not only from Australia, but also countries like Singapore, which is rolling out a nationwide program to ramp up its analytics skill-base.

"If you like the idea of doing investigation into data ... and then use that for some real business outcomes then this is going to be a course that suits this particular person."

Grad salaries looking good in healthcare, engineering and IT

When it comes to money, Fusion graduate consultancy's Cvetkovski says the big-earning degrees for grads include consulting, engineering and IT.

According to Australian career guides publisher CareerFAQs, the nation's ageing population is also making healthcare a well-paying sector for grads.

"Those educated in the fields of pharmacy and medicine are particularly sought after, with around 98 per cent of bachelor degree holders securing full-time employment within four months of graduating," its website states.

"If income alone is your incentive, then dentistry and optometry are your safest bets, with median starting salaries over $70,000. Other areas like paramedical studies and psychology also rank well."

Earth/environmental science ($65,000), engineering ($60,000) and education ($55,000) are also listed as high-earning sectors for university graduates.

university students australia

You've got the degree. Now take charge of your job search

In addition to choosing the right degree, there are also a few other tips to snaring that dream job after uni, including deciding on a career path and sticking to it, and using the power of social media. Taking ownership of your job hunt is crucial.

"Start thinking about how to take control of your career development on an ongoing basis – by knowing your skills, values and interests – as this will be helpful for you throughout your working life," careers consultant Laura Brammar told the Guardian UK.

The 2014 IAPA 'Skills &Salary' survey found the average salary of analytical professionals was almost twice the median Australian salary. Study a Master of Business Analytics at La Trobe University.

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