The pay of Australian graduates grows rapidly in the first five years after university.
But after that, according to new analysis of the 2011 Census, the growth in income slows.
The trick is to pick a profession which delivers strong pay growth year after year.
The Group of 8 (Go8), a coalition of Australia’s leading universities, says that after ten years 20% of graduates will be earning more than 80% of all full time employees across the country.
For other graduates, average real wage growth after their fifth year of employment reduces to 2%. But compare that to real wage growth across the economy of about 1% per year.
Each year information on starting salaries is collected by Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) but there is little information on how pay increases over time.
The Group of 8 analysis of the census data shows how the degrees perform over five years.
According to the 2011 Census, the top 20% of full-time workers earn at least $93,739.
Across the disciplines, medicine (64.6%), engineering (46.7%) and law (50.2%) had the highest proportion of graduates earning top money.
Graduates from creative arts (12.78%), education (14.6%) and agriculture (20.5%) had the lowest proportion of workers earning above this amount.
The proportion of law graduates getting top money after 10 years is 49% and 39% for engineering graduates and 29% for commerce graduates.
After 20 years of employment, medicine and law graduates are the top performers, earning $117,000 and $107,000 respectively.
This table shows the effect of career progression on graduate incomes over 20 years:
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