Which master’s degree pays off the most

The Abi has not yet passed, so for many people the next important decision is about to be made: study or not? And if so, which subject? The choice of course depends on your career aspirations and personality - in times of rapidly rising rents, however, more and more often on the expected salary. Financially, a degree is almost always worthwhile, because even at the start of a career, graduates with a university degree earn around 24 percent more than career starters with a completed apprenticeship. The following applies: the higher the degree, the higher the starting salary. This is the result of a current study for which the Stepstone online job portal evaluated the salaries of around 13,000 young professionals with a maximum of two years of professional experience.

"Despite the corona pandemic, employers are increasingly looking for employees again," says André Schaefer, salary expert at Stepstone. Even in times of crisis it is evident that the chance of a high starting salary is significantly better with higher qualifications. According to this, master's graduates earn an average of twelve percent more than their colleagues with bachelor's degrees when they start their careers. Newcomers to the job with a doctorate even get almost a third more money.

If you are looking for a high starting salary, you can set the course for it by choosing your subject. Because some departments have reliably topped the rankings for years. Doctors get the most right from the start: With an average gross annual salary of EUR 59,500, they are top of the ranking by degree program. In second place with 52,800 euros are young professionals with a master's degree in industrial engineering, closely followed by law graduates with 52,300 euros. Humanities scholars and graduates of design courses of EUR 36,500 and EUR 35,800 each receive the lowest starting salaries.

Across all degrees, career starters with a university degree received an average starting salary of 45,400 euros in the study period from September 2019 to August 2020. However, the differences between the industries are great. Jobs in the automotive industry are not only coveted, they are also really well paid. Those who start their professional life here receive the highest starting salary after university with an average of 51,700 euros. The aerospace industry and the chemical and petroleum processing industries are also well ahead, taking second and third place in the industry rankings with 51,100 and 49,900 respectively.

The bottom of the ranking are the hotel and catering industry with 34,000 and the leisure and tourism industry with 36,100 euros. Jobs in advertising, marketing and PR are also at the lower end of the statistics.

The gender pay gap already manifests itself in the starting salaries

But not only the industry decides on the account balance, but also the gender. The average gross salary of women at the start of their career is on average around 42,300 euros, significantly below that of their male colleagues, who start their careers with an average salary of 47,400 euros.

This difference in pay is also reflected in salary satisfaction. According to the study, 42 percent of men, but only 36 percent of women, state that they are satisfied with their salary. Across the genders, satisfaction rises in parallel with the qualification from Bachelor to Master and post-doctoral employees.

In addition to industry and gender, the size of the company is also decisive for the amount of the salary: the more employees there are, the more is paid. Corporations with more than 10,000 employees pay around eleven percent above the average.

Young professionals earn best in southern Germany

The economic strength of the locations is also reflected in the salaries. Stuttgart wins the city comparison ahead of Munich and Frankfurt am Main. "When looking for the right job, however, it makes sense not just to look at how much I can earn," says André Schaefer. The most decisive factor is the cost of living in a region, as this determines how much money is left over at the end of the month. "Career starters receive a very good starting salary in Munich, but the rental costs alone are above average there in a nationwide comparison". According to the study, Munich is the only city in Germany where nothing is left of the net income with an average standard of living.

Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia are at the lower end of the salary range and well below the national average. The southern federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse do well in a nationwide comparison with above-average starting salaries, but due to the high cost of living they are not necessarily preferable to lower salaries in other regions. For example, the average income for young professionals in Rostock is significantly lower than the starting salary paid in Munich, but according to the study, a whopping 44 percent of the net income is left to live on in the Hanseatic city.