Check your prospects and select a field of study, writes Laurenahwan
DENTISTS are among the most successful university graduates in the first year after completing their studies.
For several years, dental graduates have been the highest paid of all graduates and, this year, will earn a median annual salary of $80,000.
They also are in high demand in the workforce, with almost 94 per cent of dentists securing full-time employment within a year of graduating, figures released by Graduate Careers Australia show.
Overall, the GCA research shows the median annual starting salary for new graduates increased to $50,000 last year, from $49,000 in 2010.
After dentistry, the highest paid graduates are those in optometry ($70,000), earth sciences ($65,000), engineering ($60,000) and medicine ($58,500).
The lowest paid graduates are in the fields of pharmacy ($37,000), art and design ($40,000) and social sciences ($43,000) while those with the lowest employment rates are visual and performing arts graduates, with just 52.5 per cent in full-time work.
GCA research manager Bruce Guthrie says the research provides an important tool for those wanting to compare themselves with fellow graduates but warns against using it to deter- mine future study directions. ‘‘ Whenever anyone asks me whether people use these figures to decide what to study, I generally say that they should study what they are going to be good at,’’ Guthrie says.
‘‘ If your heart lies in doing performing arts then that’s what you should study.
‘‘ But this research helps you do so in the awareness that it might be hard to get a paid position in the area.
‘‘ Our research is just one source of information.
‘‘ It is useful in providing some signposts (for future employment and earnings expectations) but it does that at a very broad level.’’
Fiona Chan graduated from University of Queensland’s dental school last year and now works for David Cox Dental, in inner Brisbane.
While money did not motivate her career choice, employment prospects were important and Chan says she was aware of a shortage of dentists before starting her studies.
She warns future dentists may not be so lucky, with the Australian Dental Association predicting a looming oversupply of dentists caused by increasing numbers of Australian dental graduates and overseas-trained practitioners.
‘‘ It is a practical reality of life that we need to consider employment opportunities and remuneration when it comes to choosing a career,’’ she says.
‘‘ But money alone will not allow one to build an interesting, successful and sustainable career.’’