How IELTS Can Increase Your Salary

I’ve met so many students for whom English is their second language who totally hated it when at school. It was forced upon them in their own countries and they ended up not liking it. As a young student it’s hard to know what you want to do when you get older, so studying English can seem like a waste of time.

But many wealthy parents know the advantages that come from being an international citizen in the information age. Those advantages diminish if you can’t understand English, and they expand as your English ability improves.

This is especially true in a global economy that promotes more advantages to the well-educated. In China this year, a third of all university graduates need to be supported by their parents. The average salary of a graduate in China is between $396 and $586 USD a month.

In Singapore, salaries vary widely based on major, but Computer Engineering averaged around $3000 USD for fresh graduates, according to the Singapore Ministry of Education (note: this link opens a .pdf file of the results of the survey).

But let’s compare that to the USA. In particular, we’ll look at one of the more successful US colleges, Carnegie Mellon. Carnegie Mellon is well known amongst tech circles as a school that produces high quality technical graduates. About 20% of the school is international students. By analyzing their careers section from their Career and Professional Development Center, we can see some interesting comparisons with graduates from overseas universities.


Carnegie Mellon 2013 Undergraduate Salaries


In 2013, as you can see, the salary levels are a massive jump over China and Singapore. Carnegie Mellon is obviously a successful school as their averages are considerably higher than the US average. But even the US average is 50% higher than the averages from Singapore. Not everyone gets a job after graduating though and as you can see below, quite a few people go onto postgraduate study.

Where graduates went to work and the destinations of those who went on to study after their graduate degree.

Where graduates went to work and the destinations of those who went on to study after their graduate degree.


While some went to famous employers like IBM, Google and Amazon, a large number continued to study. The Computer Science department graduated many students who simply went on to get jobs. The average first year salary is below.


Carnegie Mellon 2014 Graduate Computer Science Salaries


Very impressive numbers! But what about postgraduate students? Was it worth doing the extra study?


Carnegie Mellon 2014 Postgraduate Computer Science Salaries


Definitely! The minimum starting salary if you complete postgraduate studies jumps $39,000 to $85,000.

I really think these numbers will shock some people. The differences are truly staggering. In some cases it will take a graduate in China HUNDREDS of years to earn what a graduate of Carnegie Mellon will earn in 5 years.

Is there that big a difference between the quality of graduates from Carnegie Mellon over graduates from schools in Singapore and China? The answer is No! And you can be sure of this because at least 20% of the graduates from Carnegie Mellon are international students.

No, the difference is OPPORTUNITY. The opportunity to study in the USA leads to job opportunities in a wealthier market. That starts with your English ability.

If you’d like to learn more about improving your IELTS score or just your general English ability, sign up for our Newsletter, or leave us a question in the comments. By the way Carnegie Mellon require a 7.5 or above in IELTS for admission.

All the data and graphics for this post is sourced from the following pages:






I'm an English teacher specializing in IELTS preparation - especially writing and reading. If you have any questions, please ask! You can also sign up for weekly tips and lessons for IELTS and English!

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