It could almost seem like only a few weeks ago that you were unpacking your bags in first-year halls, sorting your utility bills and attending Fresher’s activities, except for the fact that you’re now frantically writing your final dissertation and hunting for the best graduate scheme to give you your first leg-up after Uni.

It’s a truth universally understood that, if you want to be in a high-paying job in the future, the best place to start is in a high-paying graduate scheme.

Really, we hope that money isn’t your only motivation when it comes to choosing a grad-scheme (it’s usually best to choose something you will enjoy too); but if you want to get your foot on that penthouse ladder, then why not aim for those ‘big bucks’ as soon as possible.

Even if you’re a graduate who is more interested in challenge and professional development than money, the highest paying graduate schemes are going to come with an exciting level of demand and professional reward.

What Is A Graduate Scheme?

Graduate schemes are structured employment programmes which are run by employers to train up graduates for future leadership posts within their companies. These schemes usually run over one to two years (though they can be as long as 4-5 years).

There will often be a range of different specialisms which you can apply for (such as finance, HR, management, legal, retail or marketing) within a graduate scheme, however, the business can use their own prerogative to move you into or across departments as they choose. As long as you’re determined, willing to be flexible and enthusiastic about new challenges, this needn’t be a problem. In fact, this is how many graduates discover their proficiency for and enjoyment of working in fields they would have otherwise never thought of.

One of the best things about graduate schemes is that you don’t start at the bottom. You are given responsibility within an organisation straight away – hence why they can pay so well – and get a head-start in your professional career.

Due to all of this, grad schemes tend to be extremely popular and are often over-subscribed. This makes it extremely important to get your application in quickly, and to ensure your application stands out.

10 Highly Paid Graduate Schemes

Although the median graduate starting salary among the UK’s top graduate scheme employers is £30,000, according to The Graduate Market 2021, the top graduate schemes can get much, much higher.

The most generous of these salaries come from investment banks, law firms, consulting firms and oil & energy companies and retail giants. Below, we’ve revealed 10 of the top-paying grad schemes in the UK, giving you details about the upper salaries available for graduates on their schemes, the kind of work graduates are expected to do, as well as what these companies are looking for in their graduates.

  1. Rothschilds – Private Finance – £65,000

The Rothschild & Co graduate scheme in the UK is based in London and offers positions for Global Financial Advisory and Wealth Management & Trust. The most essential skills they are looking for in their graduates are: good communication, drive and ambition, and sound judgement. They also state that they prioritise diversity and want creative thinkers who can bring new ideas in. Surprisingly, for such a top payer, they don’t seem too bothered about top grades; applications are open for any graduates who have achieved at least a 2:1.

Though if you’re thinking of applying for this, the highest paying grad scheme in the country, you’d better make sure your application shines.

  1. P. Morgan – Investment Banking – £58,000

P. Morgan’s grad scheme is a hugely popular one, more widely known about than many others. Similar to the above, this company want to see your creativity, communication skills and drive. They are motivated more by your passion and personality than your academic prowess because they want graduates who will work well in their collaborative team environment. They are offering positions in Asset Management, Finance, IB Risk, Investment Banking, Operations, Private Banking, Sales, Trading & research, Securities Servicing and Clearing, Technology and Treasury Services.

  1. Goldman Sachs – Investment Banking – £52,000

The New Analyst Programme offered by Goldman Sachs is a graduate scheme which allows you to learn how to be a financial analyst, developing your pre-existing skills, and build a strong professional network. Their graduate scheme is open to graduates from any field of study, and they don’t expect you to have had any previous work experience in the field.

  1. RBS – Investment Banking – £54,000

None of the graduate schemes listed so far offer quite such a wide range of opportunities as those offered by The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS). They offer programmes in: Business & Commercial Banking, Chief Operating Office (COO), Corporate & Institutional Banking, Global Transaction Services (GTS), GBM Banking, Operations, Marketing and Technology. What is more, they are open to applicants with a 2:2 degree. This is because what they are looking for is entrepreneurial flair, drive and a natural feel for business, and they know that you can’t learn those from a book.

  1. Barclays Capital – Investment Banking – £50,000

Barclays pride themselves on offering graduate opportunities which will help you to ‘think bigger and learn to create smarter solutions’. With a range of business areas to explore, including banking, HR, cyber & security, operations, marketing, auditing and more, Barclays wants to help you find a path that’s right for you, so that you can make a valued contribution to their business.

  1. White & Chase – Law – £50,000

Offering a guaranteed 6 month placement in one of their overseas offices, White and Chase’s Training Contract for graduates is a highly desirable one. They have 14 ‘seats’ or sectors, of which you will choose 4 during the two-year scheme. These ‘seats’ are varied and include opportunities to gain contentious experience in Dispute Resolution, Employment and Benefits, IP, or Construction and Engineering or Litigation Training. They are looking for ‘globally minded’ graduates who are ready for responsibility and are ready to learn. Since most of their work is cross-border (they have offices in 38 countries), their employees need to be mobile and, ideally, with experience of international travel.

  1. BP – Oil & Energy – £49,000

British Petroleum (BP) claim to offer the ‘best-in-class graduate programme’, and – if their graduate scheme salary is anything to go by – we don’t doubt it. Recruiting graduates into engineering, science and business posts, BP have opportunities for graduates from any degree specialism, but they do require that you have an MENg if you want to apply for their engineering graduate scheme. They provide graduates with a lot of freedom to choose the career path they want.

  1. Baker McKenzie – Law – £48,000

A self-proclaimed ‘ambitious and welcoming’ firm, Baker McKenzie wants to make their graduates feel empowered to succeed, regardless of their academic or socio-economic background. The law firm is proud of it’s history for retaining and promoting it’s trainees who entered on the graduate scheme, boasting that 33 of its 117 partners entered the company this way. If you’ve got passion for innovation and a taste for challenging, high-profile work, then they would urge you to apply. Other requirements are that you ideally will have at least a 2:1 degree and that you demonstrate potential.

  1. TPP – IT – £45,000

This global digital health company are giants in the industry, processing over a billion transactions every single day and support the biggest digital healthcare solution in the world. For the last two years, TTP have been featured in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers list. In their graduate applicants, they are looking for enthusiasm, natural ability and potential. With benefits like a £200 birthday meal allowance, a free bar on Fridays and a smart casual dress code, its unsurprising that their graduate employees recommend them so highly.

  1. Aldi – Retail – £44,000

The Aldi graduate scheme allows you to fast-track to the rank of area-manager, a role which comes with a company car and a competitive salary.  On the scheme, you will be trained up in everything from store operations and financial administration to logistics and property management. Aldi wants graduates who are self-motivated, driven, positive in their approach and who will have a 2:1 degree. Applicants are expected to get themselves around, so you will also need a full driver’s licence and a willingness to relocate.