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Debut: graduate jobs & advice

Careers & insight for students

Birmingham at a glance

If you want to avoid the London bubble and still enjoy a prosperous career, look no further than Birmingham. Not only is it the biggest city outside of London, it’s also a leading hub for retail, transport, events and conferences across Europe. Plus it’s a significant centre for higher education, with four universities and a huge number of higher education colleges.

While the city itself is large, the city centre is small and easy to navigate. You can still find all the food, entertainment and attractions you can imagine in a huge city (ever heard of a little place called the Bullring?). And it’s got more miles of canals than Venice; the Brummies will be upset with us if we don’t mention that…

Area guide to Birmingham

Just like any city, Birmingham has a number of specific areas that all have their own style. One of the most famous for this city is The Jewellery Quarter, which is over 250 years’ old and home to hundreds of jewellery retailers – as well as bars and restaurants. If you’re looking for somewhere creative, then Digbeth is a great place to start; near the Bullring shopping centre, Digbeth (also known as the Irish Quarter) is the place to be for budding artists and musicians with galleries and creative spaces all around.

The finance centre can be found in the Colmore Business District, just south of the Jewellery Quarter. There is also the Gunsmiths Quarter, which although now largely residential is home to old warehouses and factories that supported the gun trade in the early 20th Century. In the Westside area of the city centre you’ll find Brindleyplace, home to many entertainment centres, and in the Southside area you’ll find the gay village, the Chinese quarter and a diverse cultural offering.

Further out, you’ll find leafier suburbs such as Moseley, King’s Heath, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield.

Universities in Birmingham

Birmingham is one of the UK’s largest centers for higher education outside of London. It boasts four major universities, as well as plenty of other colleges and institutions for higher education.

Here’s a comprehensive list of the institutions that you’ll be able to study at in Birmingham:


Employers in Birmingham

Typically, a place the size of Birmingham means thousands of opportunities – and as it’s called the City of A Thousand Trades, you’d be right.

Birmingham has plenty of employment opportunities in engineering, life sciences, tech, digital, financial and other business services. Brum also boasts a large insurance market and thousands upon thousands of firms of all sizes, with everything from law and creative to overseas banks and management consultancy firms on offer.

Some of the largest employers in Birmingham includes Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, RBS, Lloyds Bank and National Express.

Birmingham by Sector

There are a number of major industries based in Birmingham. In the past it was a hugely industrial town, dependent on manufacturing, however nowadays Birmingham’s economy is incredibly diverse.


Birmingham is huge in the automotive industry, accounting for up to 30% of all automotive production in the UK and employing tens of thousands of people. It’s also a huge hub for aerospace engineering, with 25% of Rolls Royce’s UK supply chain being centred in the West Midlands. Let’s not also forget about HS2, the UK’s infamous high speed rail project, which will connect Birmingham to London as well as other northern cities; meaning the city is also a hub for rail engineering, too.

Life sciences

Birmingham is home to a number of medical facilities and research institutions, so there are loads of opportunities for those looking to get into the life sciences sector, or work on medical devices, digital healthcare, clinical trials and more. There are also over 15 NHS Trusts and over 500 medical technology firms based in the city, and some of the higher education institutions also specialise in scientific research.

Food & drink

Due to Birmingham’s convenient location and ease of access to the rest of the UK, whether by car, rail or air, the city has found itself a major central point for the food and drink industry. A number of national supermarkets have chosen Birmingham for their distribution centres and other international firms use the region to work on food innovation.

Cost of Living in Birmingham

It’s a known fact that the cost of living drops significantly the further you move outside of London, and Birmingham is no different. Rent comes in at £677 a month on average for a one-bed apartment in the city centre. You’ll also make killer savings on transport – lines are shorter so trains tend to be cheaper and taxis are very competitively priced. The average pint is £4.12, which isn’t bad considering it’s only halfway up the country.

All told, Birmingham’s cost of living comes in huge 36% lower than London’s, while you’ll receive an average starting salary of £26,000. This means a move to Birmingham over London will leave you with more disposable income to enjoy the great benefits of living in a big city.

  • Accountancy/Professional Services
  • Technology


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