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After talking to people at antinomys party on Saturday, and… - Sally's Journal
October 18th, 2005
02:36 pm

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After talking to people at antinomys party on Saturday, and reading geekette8s poll, I've realised I'm completely confused when it comes to the idea of reasonable money.

Now, I am not completely souless. I would much rather do a job I believe in and love for enough money to survive on, than do a job I don't believe in for $lots. However, given academia has told me to f-off, outreach work has turned me down in favour of someone with more experience, and Emp and I could not honestly survive for a year on nothing but a teacher training grant, doing a job I don't believe in for $lots is much more appealing than doing a job I don't believe in for $little.

But I have no idea what $lots is. Anything over my 10K research grant seems to be $lots from where I'm sitting, and I don't want to get pidgeonholed too low too soon. And I don't want to waste my time applying for jobs I have no hope of getting. It's easy to hear people rant about their own ideas of what is poorly paid, but what really tends to happen to people with Cambridge undergraduate degrees?

Sorry, this poll will only really work with people with a degree. And, err, I know lots of people don't like talking about money (I know I don't) so don't feel under any pressure to answer it if you don't want to



Poll #592935 Money

What was your annual income the first year after you finished your undergraduate degree?

What were you doing?

And your income the first year after you left university?

What were you doing?

What was your income the first time you got a full time job?

What were you doing?

(60 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:mobbsy
Date:October 18th, 2005 01:47 pm (UTC)
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Unless you've a reasonable idea anyway of when people started working, it might have been sensible to ask. There's been 8 years of inflation since I had a starting salary.
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From:atreic
Date:October 18th, 2005 01:47 pm (UTC)
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I have a rough idea of how old people on my fiends list are. And I assumed people would leave helpful comments if they thought it wasn't clear :-)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
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From:despotliz
Date:October 18th, 2005 01:50 pm (UTC)
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For me, first year after I left university = first year after undergrad degree = first full time job, hence I only filled in the top two boxes.
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From:piqueen
Date:October 18th, 2005 01:51 pm (UTC)
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ditto
From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 18th, 2005 02:03 pm (UTC)
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Bearing in mind that £10k grant needs equivalent tax and NI putting on top of it...
(Deleted comment)
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From:beckyc
Date:October 18th, 2005 02:07 pm (UTC)
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Well, the relevant figure that I've always gone with is whether you have to start paying off student loans* or not, since it's linked to average salary. When I started work a few years ago, the deferment threshold was about 17 or 18 grand, now it's more like 24 grand.

*Nb: old style student loans, which wouldn't apply to you.

But I was at The Other Place, so I shouldn't fill in your poll...
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From:aldabra
Date:October 18th, 2005 02:13 pm (UTC)
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Twenty-four grand is average salary, hmmm? Maybe I need me something of a hefty payrise around here.
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From:wildeabandon
Date:October 18th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC)
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My first job after finishing my degree was distinctly not a grad job, as my degree grade was so poor.

I've used the "when you finished uni" slot for my current job, which is the first one that a)asked for a degree, and b)challenges me consistantly. The figure there doesn't include the fees for the OU course I'm about to start, which the company is also paying for.
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From:gerald_duck
Date:October 18th, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC)
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For people who went straight into their first full-time job immediately upon finishing their undergraduate degree, I assume it's correct for all three sections to be identical? I hope so, given that's how I answered. (-8

Also, I gave my annual income at the start of the year, without bonuses, if you see what I mean. I actually got a Christmas bonus and a pay rise during the first twelve months of employment, so working out my "income the first year after [I] left university" makes my head hurt, even before benefits in kind like pension, health insurance and share options are taken into account!
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From:geekette8
Date:October 18th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC)
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Oh yes, benefits in kind are an interesting question too. My starting salary that I entered in your (atreic's) poll was inclusive of whatever benefits I got then, which I think were pretty much non-existent. Nowadays I have a very generous pension scheme (I contribute 4% of my salary, my employer contributes 13%) plus life insurance, private medical insurance, travel insurance etc.
From:ex_robhu
Date:October 18th, 2005 03:32 pm (UTC)
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Money is dangerously controlling and corrupting, or at least it was for me.
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From:sashajwolf
Date:October 18th, 2005 03:40 pm (UTC)
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The answers would all be identical for me, so I just filled in the top set. I started work in 1993, should you want to calculate the effect of inflation.
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From:the_marquis
Date:October 18th, 2005 03:53 pm (UTC)
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It may help to ask at the job centre what the unemployment benefits are right now adding on whatever figure the council give you for housing benefit. That will give you a base line, a below the poverty line base line admittedly.

From that you should be able to see the varying slary scales in context.
From:nina321
Date:October 18th, 2005 04:00 pm (UTC)
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for me, the first year after finishing my undergrad degree, the first year after I leave uni, and the first time i get a full time job will all be the same year.
I'll be getting approximately 18 and a half grand and that's base payment for newly qualified teachers.

I'm still at uni and I can still answer your questions :D
From:nlj21
Date:October 18th, 2005 04:00 pm (UTC)
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Emp and I could not honestly survive for a year on nothing but a teacher training grant

Anything over my 10K research grant seems to be $lots from where I'm sitting,

I'm thinking these statements are actually inconsitent. For 2006 trainee teachers in shortage subject get a 9,000 pound bursary and 1,200-2,700 pound maintance grant (means-tested), all of which is tax-free. This is paid over a 40 week period. This seems more than the research grant...
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From:atreic
Date:October 18th, 2005 04:22 pm (UTC)
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They're superficially inconsistant. But...

Next September Emp will (hopefully not) be overrunning, so while 10K + Emps money currently seems like $lots, 1*12K isn't enough.

I read the website fairly carefully, and don't believe in your maintanence grant (do please correct me!) If you mean the tuition fees waiver that doesn't make any difference, as tuition fees don't have to be paid back until you are earning, so while it is nice it's no more money to live on.

Besides, you're making the vast assumption that I want to be a secondary maths teacher and not a primary teacher. That's 6K.

Hopefully, this is enough to point out to you that "Emp and I could not survive for a year on 6K" and "Anything over 10K feels like $lots" arn't as inconsistent as you thought!

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From:satanicsocks
Date:October 18th, 2005 04:19 pm (UTC)
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I filled out the poll but you really want to be looking at double your research grant. People won't blink at that or a couple of K more starting salary for a cambridge BA, let alone the MPhil.
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From:mair_aw
Date:October 18th, 2005 05:56 pm (UTC)
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I guess this is obvious to you, but the amount of money you need/want kind of depends what you want to spend it on, where you're trying to live, how much you want to go out.

* If I lived in a room instead of a flat of my own I could easily have £200/month extra spending money, which is a lot of pizza...

* When I was an undergrad and I was meeting up with friends we'd usually go to the pub, might well eat somewhere like the 'spoons, and often go for curry. Last year in Edinburgh we'd all pile into someone's house, cook lidl pasta with tinned tomatoes, and have it with water or occasionally a bottle of wine. That probably makes half my £200/month difference easily :)

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From:catyak
Date:October 18th, 2005 07:27 pm (UTC)
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Of course, when I started work, Maggie Thatcher was PM.

D
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From:ixwin
Date:October 18th, 2005 07:41 pm (UTC)
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'Full time job' actually = first year after leaving university, but what I did was work in jobs I didn't need a degree for, for a bit. the 'first year after finishing degree' is the job I got after that which was a 'proper' graduate job.

This was all around 1998ish
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From:king_of_wrong
Date:October 18th, 2005 10:17 pm (UTC)
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I started work at 18, straight after A-level. I've still not graduated, so I have no other relevant starting salary - but the fact that I'm in my tenth year of experience will skew it massively.

For a technical job, you should easily be able to clear 20k p.a. gross. 24k is probably a reasonable target. Other jobs will probably pay a bit less, but anything under 18k is starting to get silly for an Oxbridge BA.

It really isn't a lot of money. The standard metric for mortgage lending used to be "3x your annual gross salary" - which with two people each at 25k/year still needs >10% deposit to buy a flat anywhere remotely expensive (Cambridge, Brighton, London).
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From:vyvyan
Date:October 18th, 2005 11:35 pm (UTC)
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anything under 18k is starting to get silly for an Oxbridge BA

So how silly is 7k for an Oxbridge PhD? :-)
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From:zebbiejohnson
Date:October 18th, 2005 11:08 pm (UTC)
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With a Durham BA and a Cambridge MPhil I started on 19k, then went down to 13k for an internship because I needed an income and I am now (though hopefully going full time any second) on 12.5k pro rata for only 18hrs a week in order to get experience in something I love.
Having said that, 22k is supposed to be the average wage (add 3k for London), although personally I wouldn't automatically expect to get average wage in my first year in the job market if I had no experience.

I have found that you really need 800 pounds a month to take home to live like a student and be able to do stuff you want (as long as you want to do things like sit in the pub occasionally and read second-hand books rather than go on posh holidays or shopping sprees). 1000 pounds a month provided everything I actually ever seriously needed day to day and let me save enough to buy and run a (admittedly very old and pretty crappy) car, I could easily spend much more than that (some of which would be going on things that I really ought to have, like a pension or saving for a house deposit etc as well as just Cool Stuff) each month but then I don't think many people really have an upper limit on what they could spend. We did also manage to save several thousand towards a wedding even when I was doing 44 hr weeks for take home pay of about 840 pounds so it's amazing what you can adapt to. Things like babies, holidays, rent on two-bedroom flats (we Don't Mention buying), funding myself through a PhD as I can't find funding elsewhere, new cars or major repairs to the existing one, etc are however firmly in the category with private jets, yachts and big things made of gold.

Even when I was working full time in a job I disliked Matt's current PhD funding with top-up from college was approximately equivalent or greater to my after-tax wage. Just to add insult to injury.
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From:vyvyan
Date:October 18th, 2005 11:29 pm (UTC)
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To clarify, the figure for the year after undergrad was my MPhil grant in 1996; the figure for the year after leaving university was my starting salary with the OU in 2002; the figure for my first full-time job was my fellowship in 1998. That is, my first full-time job began before I left university.

I have maintained a similar standard of living since coming up to Cambridge in 1992 as an undergrad, when my parents gave me the equivalent of a full maintenance grant (L1100 a term, IIRC). When I became a fellow, I earned more than necessary to live on, so I saved the excess. When I left university, and worked for the OU, my income was at first not enough to live on by any standard (i.e. less than my half of the rent), so I subsidised it out of my savings.

I don't agree with the claim posted here that c. L800 a month is necessary to live like a student. I live on a great deal less now, in Cambridge, but my standard of living is comparable to what I had as a student.
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From:aiwendel
Date:October 19th, 2005 09:10 am (UTC)
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hmmm I've been wondering about this too (was offered 16k by my ex work and turned it down, don't know what i should be earning though... but the 16 k was available as an unskilled labourer quit, and thus was offered to me to do design work (fine) and projectmanagement taking full responsibility for 40k jobs (not fine). But having rejected it does mean I'm not full time employed and I'm earning really very little (ie 6k if i'm lucky) But at least i have lots of free time to sort out our house in! :)

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From:sphyg
Date:October 19th, 2005 01:33 pm (UTC)
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Not enough ;/
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From:robert_jones
Date:October 19th, 2005 08:00 pm (UTC)
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You might like to note that pupillage awards are in the range £12k to £42k. A quick flick through a nearby brochure indicates that £29k is a standard starting salary for the big city solicitors firms. Someone I know was recently offered a graduate job in investment banking at £40k.
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