Holly BarrowMarch 2nd

Graduating from university can be an incredibly exciting but nerve-wracking time - it may be your first time leaving education after years of studying, so it’s normal to feel a little anxious and uncertain about what your future may look like. 

When considering what you’d like to do after getting your degree - whether that’s taking some time out to travel, starting a Master’s or landing your first job - you may want to think about graduate schemes.

We take a look at what a graduate scheme is, how you can get on to a graduate scheme and what the highest paying graduate schemes are in 2023. 


What is a graduate scheme?

A graduate scheme is essentially an entry-level programme designed for those who have recently graduated, providing them with on-the-job training to gain practical experience with a company.

Each scheme varies depending on the employer and industry, but it typically involves training, mentoring and valuable hands-on experience. 

Graduate schemes usually last anywhere between one to three years, with the majority of people on a graduate scheme continuing to work for the same company once they’ve completed it. 

One of the main benefits of a graduate scheme is that they are all paid positions and graduate scheme salaries reflect a full-time job rather than an internship or apprenticeship, despite the fact you are similarly learning as you work. 


When do graduate schemes open for 2023?

Graduate scheme employers recruit at different times throughout the year, however some have application deadlines in January of each year for the coming September. 

The majority of grad schemes start each September, but some start as early as July. 

A number of graduate scheme employers have multiple intakes throughout the year, so it’s always worth checking even if you think you may have missed your chance. 

What are the highest paying graduate schemes in the UK?

Interested in applying for a grad scheme and wondering what the highest paying graduate roles are?

From investment banking to retail, there is a graduate scheme for everyone regardless of where your strengths and skills lie. 

Here are some of the highest paying graduate schemes in the UK… 


1. Investment Banking 

Investment banking graduate schemes are some of the highest paid in the country, typically paying between £50,000 to £60,000 per year with the potential for bonuses. A number of employers offer competitive investment banking graduate schemes, including the likes of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Deutsch Bank.

A strong understanding of mathematics and market analysis is helpful for investment banking, however it’s worth noting that you don’t necessarily need to have a degree in maths, economics, business or finance to get onto an investment banking graduate scheme. 

Investment banking grad schemes typically involve graduates starting out as an Analyst and training for three years in various departments such as asset management, mergers, bonds and public investment to help you find your niche.


2. Management Consulting 

Management consultants work with businesses to improve their performance by providing expert solutions to problems and finding ways to encourage growth. 

Management consulting graduate schemes are also some of the highest paid in the UK, offering extremely competitive salaries to those who have just graduated. 

This can range from £35,000 to £50,000, with employers such as McKinsey, KPMG and Bain and Company offering highly sought-after grad schemes.

If you believe you have superb problem solving and communication skills, a management consulting graduate role could be for you. 


3. Trainee Solicitor

If you’re a law graduate on the hunt for a graduate scheme, you’ll be pleased to hear there are plenty out there - and they just so happen to be some of the highest paying graduate schemes. 

If you’re aiming to become a solicitor, there are a number of trainee solicitor graduate schemes you may wish to consider. These can be very competitive, with firms receiving thousands of applications for just a handful of roles. 

However this shouldn’t deter you - you’ll just have to work hard to stand out from other applicants! 

If you haven’t already, it may be worth trying to secure some form of work experience prior to applying for a law graduate scheme, even if just for a week during half term. This may involve shadowing a solicitor and gaining valuable insight into the legal industry. 

Law firms such as Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Baker McKenzie and Freshfields offer superb graduate schemes for law graduates, offering a salary of between £44,000 to £48,000. 


4. Retail 

This one may come as a surprise, but a number of retailers offer incredibly competitive graduate schemes with fantastic pay. 

Aldi is one example, with the supermarket chain becoming renowned for its high paying graduate schemes. 

Aldi’s Graduate Area Manager Programme allows you to learn the ins and outs of retail, before discovering what it takes to lead a multi-million pound business.

To qualify, you’ll need 96 UCAS points or 63 Scottish Highers, a 2:1 degree in any discipline, a driving licence, and you must have the right to work in the UK.

In exchange, you’ll receive a generous starting salary of £50,000, which rises in increments to £90,615 in year 8 of working for the retailer. You’ll also receive a fully expensed company car, have opportunities to travel and be allocated a dedicated mentor from day one. 


5. Technology

The tech industry is an ever-growing one, so it’s no surprise that it offers some of the most lucrative graduate schemes. 

Tech giants such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google offer graduate schemes with starting salaries of around £30,000 to £40,000, however this can quickly rise with graduates having the potential to earn six-figure salaries within just a few years.

6. Engineering 

Last but not least, there are a number of high paying graduate schemes for engineers. Companies such as BP, Shell and Rolls Royce offer graduate schemes that typically pay around £25,000 to £35,000 per year. However, salaries can increase rapidly as graduates progress through the scheme and gain more experience.

With BP, graduates will discover opportunities in civil, chemical, electrical, instrument and control, mechanical petroleum and reservoir, project controls and safety engineering, as well as the drilling, interventions and completions of wells.

Shell’s graduate scheme allows engineering graduates to use and develop state of the art technology, offering discipline-specific programmes in Process Engineering, Civil Offshore and Pipelines, Instrumentation Control and Electrical, Mechanical Engineering, Petroleum Engineering and more. 


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