Working life

How relevant is the amount of time spent on your education to the wages you will receive?

A long training period should result in a good salary, at least if you are training to be a doctor. Still, a blue-collar worker may earn more than a woman with a university degree. That is worth thinking about when making decisions about your future career.

Education is not cheap, but who foots the bill?

There is a lot of discussion about whether society should support further study and to what extent it should do so. The other option is that young people use student loans to finance their studies and pay an even larger portion of their studies themselves.

This makes you wonder whether studying is really worth it. The student loans add up and you might end up in a lot of debt. Paying off your student loan might be hard, especially if the salary you end up with does not compensate for the length of your studies.

High pay,
short education
(up to 3 years)
€3500 – Flight attendant
€3034 – Building electrician
€2866 – Metal worker

High pay,
longer education
(at least 6 years)
€8368 – City Mayor
€6068 – Professor
€4046 – Economist

Low pay,
short education
(up to 3 years)
€2641 – Bus driver
€2165 – Cook
€1866 – Hairdresser

Low pay,
longer education
(at least 6 years)
€3520 – Veterinarian
€2721 – Library assistant
€2460 – Children’s teacher

Expert opinion

To find out whether studying is worth your while, money-wise, we turn to the experts.

According to ministerial advisor Ville Heinonen from the Ministry of Education and Culture and special researcher Matti Sarvimäki from the Government Institute for Economic Research, it is worth it.

“As a general rule, a long training period is reflected in your future salary, your position in the job market and in job security,” Heinonen says.

“On an individual level, a good income is attainable even without qualifications, for instance for an entrepreneur.”

According to Sarvimäki, a university degree is worth the trouble – especially in Finland, as further study is more affordable here than in many other countries.

“For most Finns, their education is the most important investment decision of their lives. It affects your income, your likelihood of being unemployed and where there are vacancies in you field globally.”

“Education is a good investment, but you should choose your field carefully,” Sarvimäki points out.

From a financial perspective, training as a doctor is worth your while, so long as you are keen to study and have the talent for it, he suggests.

“Also people with degrees in economics, law and engineering usually have high income jobs and are rarely unemployed.”

Even a short training course at a vocational school can lead to high earnings. Dockers, workers at a paper mill and train drivers are all among well paid blue-collar workers.

Salaries may become high in small key fields where a small group of workers is responsible for operating expensive machinery. Keeping those machines idle is costly. This gives the workers an edge in salary negotiations,” Sarvimäki explains.

Highly educated, lower paid

The lowest paid jobs that require an academic degree include childcare workers, social workers, librarians, translators and some artists. These are typically female fields.

“These careers are chosen by people who do not consider income to be the most important reason for deciding on a career. But this does not mean that these differences in income are fair,” head of research Reija Lilja from the Labour Institute for Economic Research says.

“If women enter traditionally male fields of work, they tend to also earn better. If these industries are at all appealing, they are worth going into, if the aim is to earn well.”

A woman’s salary is 82.4 per cent of a man’s salary, on average. However, there is one surprise in the statistics: if she is part of the top tier of executives and officials, a woman’s euro is 111 cents of a man’s euro.

The smaller incomes of people with university degrees cannot be explained simply by the fact that these jobs are typically done by women, Lilja notes.

“In the public sector, it is difficult to calculate what is profitable. How do you measure the value of saving a human life or teaching children how to read? It is also a question of values: is it more valuable to mend machinery or to treat people?”

Keep an eye on stability

Even if the average salary for your dream job does not take your breath away, it is worth looking at the salary for your entire career and the stability of your future job, Reija Lilja advises.

“If you are highly qualified, it is less likely that you will become unemployed. Even if your salary seems small, your job may be more secure than those in the industry sector, as they are affected by economic fluctuations more and the likelihood of becoming unemployed is greater.”

According to Lilja, the care industry is worth at least thinking about. The salaries in the field may increase, because the demand for care workers will rise in future.

Jaana Laitinen – HS
Minna Helminen – HT