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Pay and career progression for graduates working in consumer goods

Find out how much you could earn on a FMCG graduate training programme, how much this could increase after three years and where your career could go next.

According to a membership survey published in November 2020 by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), the median starting salary for graduates who started work for consumer goods companies was £27,500.

Graduate positions in FMCG companies are highly competitive, perhaps in part because they often have a clear path for career progression and salary increase, and involve professional training.

Graduate starting salaries in consumer goods roles

Graduate pay at FMCG companies varies depending on the scheme applied to, but is usually between £22,000 and £32,000. Here are some examples:

  • Arla has offered graduate salaries within the £30,000–£35,000 range.
  • Associated British Foods' has a graduate starting salary of £30,000.
  • Danone has previously offered a base salary for graduates of £30,500.
  • Johnson & Johnson is said to offer graduate trainees a salary of between £27,000 and £33,000.
  • Nestlé graduates can typically expect to earn around £30,000.
  • The starting salary on Unilever's future leaders programme is £32,000.
  • William Jackson Food Group's graduate programmes have a £25,000 starting salary.

What are graduates’ prospects of promotion in FMCG companies?

A place on a consumer goods company’s graduate scheme will give you experience of a fast-paced commercial environment that will stand you in good stead however you decide to develop your career in future.

Discover how Alfie Hinchcliffe, an ecommerce, performance and analytics manager at L’Oréal, has managed to drive his career and even create his own job role since he finished his marketing graduate programme.

What training and development do consumer goods companies offer?

Many FMCG companies run on the 70:20:10 learning and training principle, which involves receiving 70% of learning and development opportunities through stretching assignments on the job, 20% through mentoring and 10% through formal training opportunities. So, when you are researching FMCG graduate schemes and investigating the training and qualifications on offer, consider the following:

  • Length. How long is the scheme overall? Does it consist of a number of different placements, and if so, how long are the placements, and where are they likely to be based?
  • Variety. Rotational programmes which place trainees in different departments are intended to give a broad view of how the business works. You may get the opportunity to gain an understanding of both the demand-orientated side of the organisation – sales and marketing – and the supply side, which includes manufacturing, HR and supply chain.
  • Location. There may be opportunities for overseas placements (when travel is once again permitted) during the course of your graduate training, though they are unlikely to be guaranteed. Graduate recruits may also be expected to relocate within the UK for different placements.
  • Opportunities to gain professional qualifications. Finance graduate schemes may offer training towards accreditation by a relevant professional body such as CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants). Engineering schemes may offer support towards chartership.
  • Soft skills training, ongoing learning and support. Formal training by an external organisation such as CIMA is likely to be just a small part of what’s on offer. Like employers in other industries, consumer goods companies also provide on-the-job training, online learning schemes, and mentoring and buddy programmes.

Find out what Kerry graduates have to say about the support and development opportunities they have received.

What soft skills do graduates gain from working in consumer products?

Graduates on FMCG training schemes are likely to develop a range of soft skills, including the following:

Article last updated 9 February 2021.

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