What Degrees Are Australian Businesses Looking For?


Okay, so there are some unfortunate realities about the modern world that we all need to face. First, getting a degree is basically mandatory. The average salary increase for having a bachelor’s degree of around $15,000, and in certain industries can be almost $30,000 for an entry level job. Those numbers also don’t stop increasing as higher qualifications increase your base minimum wage and vastly increase your competitive potential as an employee. Sounds great right?

Well, the thing is, what degree you get matters. Remember how we just said that in certain industries it can be almost $30,000 higher? Well, it can also be much lower – in fact some professions are lucky to have an income at all. For example, take game design. For people who manage to get into one of the big budget studios, the average income tends to float around $80k USD or higher, however, for those who don’t, indie games are usually the way to go, and according to 2023 analytics, 70% of all indie games are commercial failures. Of the 30% that are considered successful, only 7% of those games will generate enough revenue to fund a second project – which often translates to only around $30k AUD per person. In fact, some of the most successful video game titles only earn around $200,000 before they cap out, which is often only enough to support a studio of around 6 or 7 people.

Sounds dreadful right? Well, that’s kinda the point.

Follow your dreams and network hard and you could land a high paying job, or you could join the vast majority who will never see their dream be a sustainable source of income. And if you did what many of us did and sunk tens of thousands of dollars into a university degree to get you the minimum qualifications required to be successful… well that might not be a risk worth taking – especially if those degrees and the skills obtained aren’t cross-transferable to other professions. At the end of the day, what matters is often not what you want to do with your life, but what other people are willing to pay you for, and that means knowing what degrees are considered desirable by businesses and companies at large. So if you – like me – had high hopes of making it somewhere with your dream job, hang up your dreams for the moment and let’s take a look at what Australian businesses consider to be the best, highest rated degrees in the country.

Know the Right Question

A question like “What Degrees Are Australian Businesses Looking For” has two general answers. The first is a strictly business-centric and qualitative approach where we look into what degrees reportedly are of most interest to business owners and employers. There are a few ways to get these statistics that range from being personal opinion pieces to statistically derived outputs, but usually the focal point is on seeing what standard commercial businesses look for in their employees. However, this can give a misleading picture. For example, if we asked what degrees fossil fuel companies were looking for in particular, this would be severely misleading given that there are only 17,000 full time positions within Australia across the entire fossil fuel industry, with most other jobs relating to the industry being short-term contract work provided by recruitment agencies or other related companies, that may or may not be included depending on who you ask. So when asking “business” it’s very important to know “what business” and whether or not we should be including casual or part time jobs that more often than not are considered both unreliable and part of the gig economy.

The other approach is a very broad but strictly quantitative approach, where we simply look at employability statistics across all degrees and all sources of employment – which can include everything from public enterprises to government work to commercial businesses – it might not strictly answer the question, but the answer certainly rests within those numbers. We’re going to take an attempt to answer the question using both approaches, starting with the question that’s probably burning in the back of your brain, which degrees are the most reliable in terms of employment.

What Degrees Have The Highest Employability Rates in Australia?

The below data is based on a 2021 review done by Jacinda Yang, much of which is still true two years later and correlate well with studies on the best degrees to learn online.

Nursing Employment Rate 72.7%

Bachelor of Nursing
Bachelor of Science/Master of Nursing

Business and Management Employment Rate 74.3%

Bachelor of Accounting
Bachelor of Actuarial Studies
Bachelor of Accounting and Finance
Bachelor of Applied Finance
Bachelor of Business

Law and Paralegal Studies Employment Rate 75.7%

Bachelor of Accounting/Bachelor of Laws
Combined Law Degree
Bachelor of Applied Finance and Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Arts (Psychology)/Bachelor of Laws

Veterinary Studies Employment Rate 78.2%

Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Bachelor of Veterinary Technology
Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Biosciences

Dentistry Employment Rate 80.0%

Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Dental Medicine
Bachelor of Dental Science
Bachelor of Dental Health Science
Bachelor of Dental Science

Teacher Education Employment Rate 80.6%

Bachelor of Education (Primary)
Bachelor of Education (Secondary)
Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary)

Engineering Employment Rate 83.0%

Bachelor of Advanced Science and Bachelor of Engineering
Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering
Bachelor of Civil Engineering
Bachelor of Engineering (Aerospace/Mechanical and Manufacturing/Mechanical)

Medicine Employment Rate 86.7%

Bachelor of Medical Science
Doctor of Medicine (paired with a Bachelor’s degree)

Rehabilitation Employment Rate 87.3%

Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy)
Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science
Bachelor of Occupational Therapy
Bachelor of Exercise Physiology

Pharmacy Employment Rate 96.4%

Bachelor of Pharmacy
Bachelor of Pharmacy and Management

What Degrees Do Australian Businesses Say They Are Looking For?

If you look online at business recruitment pages, LinkedIn and other sources, there’s one thing that business owners and companies are looking for and one thing only.

Business Degrees.

Of course, the speciality matters. Business Finance, Business Law, Business Management and Administration and – of course – Business IT are all very different degrees, but the fact remains that anyone wanting to enter into the world of business, the most commonly requested qualification is a business degree. Notably, Jacinda Yang’s review agrees with this, placing Business degrees in the top ten of all university degree categories in terms of reliable employment.

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