While starting salaries for new graduates from university health degrees have increased significantly since 1999, the percentage of graduates going directly into a full time job has dropped, according to GradStats data.
The GradStats figures show that there is now a lower full time employment rate for medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing (initial), rehabilitation, psychology and “other” health degrees than there was before the turn of the century.
However, there were some positives for graduates this year. The profession of dentistry pulled off the largest percentage increase in its graduate employment rate, rising from 79.6% in 2014 to 86.7% in 2015. This was partially because the profession was removed from the Skilled Occupations List 1st July 2015. However, Australian Dental Association President Dr Rick Olive has said that there is more work to be done in order to secure the future of Australian dental students and new graduates.
The “rehabilitation” category also saw an increase in the employment rate from 74.5% in 2014 to 80.6% in 2015.
Nursing (initial) is of particular concern, with the employment rate according to GradStats data dropping below 80% for the first time in 2015. In 2012 Health Workforce Australia predicted that there would be a shortage of 109,000 nurses in Australia by the year 2025. The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation has been well aware of the issues faced by many new graduates in getting their first job. They are continuing to campaign for more jobs for nursing and midwifery graduates.
Pharmacy and medicine have remained similar over the years. With respect to pharmacy, the figures relate to the pre-registration year graduates must complete to become a fully qualified pharmacist, and medical graduates go onto their intern year (and further training beyond that). It is also worth noting that the figures for psychology graduates are always difficult to interpret as post-graduate study is required to become a psychologist, and so this cohort would therefore not go into a full time job on the completion of their undergraduate degree.
Source: GradStats 1999-2015
Comparing median starting salaries from the year 1999 to 2015, optometry has had the largest percentage increase, with a 100% rise from $40,000 to $80,000 per year. Dentistry had as 89% increase from $42,300 to $80,000 and paramedical studies was next with a 75% increase from $30,800 to $55,000. Pharmacy (pre-registration) saw a 75% increase from 1999 to 2015, psychology just over 56% and medicine (interns) just over 51%.
In 2015, health again ranked highly in terms of median graduate salaries when compared with other degrees
- Dentistry and optometry $80,000
- Medicine $65,000
- Education $61,000
- Engineering and mathematics $60,000
However, optometry is another profession to watch in the coming years as a workforce oversupply has been predicted from 2016.
Source: GradStats 1999-2015
The take-home message
Across the categories that have employment rate data, on average, there is about an 80% chance of getting a job if you choose to study health at university. That means for every 5 students, 1 will struggle to find a full time job upon or soon after graduation. So be prepared for a potentially competitive jobs market and take or create every opportunity that arises to excel in your field.
Following are links to our pages with detailed information about each career:
- Exercise physiology / sports science
- Occupational therapy
More resources on My Health Career: