Where Did Your ATAR Get You?

I found the "Preparing for HSC" thread interesting, so I thought lets hear what peoples ATAR (or no ATAR) was and where it got you today :)


  • Qld OP1 whatever that is the equivalent of.
    Did medicine in QLD.
    Now working in Haematology (blood diseases). It's like oncology for nerds. I really like it.
    Did 6 months of Locum work this year so my income is a bit artificially inflated by that in the last financial year. Now back in registrar life.

  • +1

    Nowhere haha. Got 79 atar, worked all through uni and dropped out for a while, got a public service job without any help from doing any uni or results from a decade ago. I applied for public service jobs for a long time and couldn’t get a foot in the door, worked all kinds of retail/hospo/customer service jobs inc call centres, that was valuable. Regret now not smashing out my arts degree and picking up law earlier but I can still do it - screw working 80 hour weeks though, they can shove that.

  • +6

    I know a married couple where neither got a ATAR/TER but finished high school (barely). One is a specialist doctor now and the other works in corporate finance at a international bank. You can do anything if you put in the time and learn the alternative paths.

    • nice story!!

  • +5

    From reading the comments, I feel like its less about ATAR and more about perseverance. ATAR itself is likely to be an indicator of perseverance with studies, with some finding it easy to keep cracking on because its their calling.

    Me personally, I did IB so ATAR equiv was either 95 or 97 I can't remember. Undergrad, honours and postgrad psych fulltime while working fulltime eqv with the exception of one year (don't ask, don't want to relive). Psychologist but don't use the title, Job in consulting, 0.8FTE 144k 4 years out of degree.

    Not sure I enjoy what I do. I do however, persevere.

    • +1

      Totally agree with that.

      Its the same with uni: you don't NEED a degree for most jobs, but you will find that that a lot require one.

      Why? It shows you can dedicate 3-5 years to something and should be able to learn the skills necessary in the job relatively quickly. When you need to sort through applicants, this is a great timesaving shortcut.

  • Mid to late 90s (ATAR). Ended up transferring to Usyd Law and finished last semester. Doing college of law as we speak.

  • Hello there I am the one that posted the preparing for HSC but anyways I am aiming to get at least 95 to get in a bachelor of actuarial studies

  • I had an ATAR of around 75ish - studied business/commerce. Got a government job in a call centre as a phone operator, and made my way up. The degree was not necessary for my role but was probably favourable when I did apply for other jobs internally. About 80% of my management colleagues do not have a degree - salaries range from around 100-160K per year.

  • ATAR was low 70s
    Got my bachelor of Science, worked as a scientist (~80k) got bored and moved into a sales role for medical devices and i got 200k (base+comm) last FY at 27.

    Thinking of doing a post grad in secondary teaching since i really enjoy sharing my knowledge but just trying to earn as much as i can before doing so as it'll be a big pay cut.

  • -2

    Its really quite simple the higher the ATAR score the higher the chances of a higher paying job .
    And of course lower the ATAR score the higher probability of lower paying jobs.
    There always examples both ways of people that went against this trend but its a small minority .
    Own business is really the only battle ground where it doesn't matter as much if you have the ability to delegate duties .

    • Yeah I don't know about that hey. I'm a lawyer and noting the alternate ways to get into law in uni if you bomb your school exams, the one think that links us all is that everyone really wanted to be a lawyer. The are more graduates than jobs, so only those that really want it get the position.

      As for "higher paying", dudes who contract in IT are generally higher paid than lawyers, and they don't even need degrees.

    • It's not as simple as that mate. Just because someone is book smart does not mean they'll get a good/high paying job. I've seen so many people who got top marks/high ATAR but lacked so much in other areas.

      • There are differences between
        higher ATAR = higher pay vs higher ATAR = better chance of higher pay

        I couldn't find any actual study on ATAR vs pay, but it seems reasonable that someone with 99.95 ATAR on average will have higher pay than 60 ATAR.

  • +3

    My older sibling got 99+, I got 98+, my younger sibling got 80+. Fair to say, my asian parents were utterly disappointed at the younger sibling. In hindsight, none of that matters anymore as my younger sibling got into degree of choice and we're all in stable middle class jobs. If anything, my younger sibling has the highest earning potential.

    • I'd say they'd be disappointed that none of you became doctors with those scores.

      • Haha, you're not wrong — especially in those first few years out of uni. Now they're just happy that we're all doing decently in our own career paths with better work life balance than most doctors.

    • Being the younger sibling who got 80+ in an asian household, it has not been easy for me. Got into Finance/CompSci and dropped out second semester and now working part time in IT until next intake for health. Fingers crossed that will get me into a nice job with decent work/life balance.

  • +12

    The consensus seems to be that regardless of your TER, age or profession almost everyone is earning a minimum of 150k-200k p.a.

    • Haha that's my thoughts, too! I would have though ozbargain was for those that had less disposable/income in general - perhaps not!

      • I feel like its both types of people, I have been using ozbargain since I was earning 38k per year. The difference is likely in what its used for with some having the benefit of being able to have hindsight on something like ATAR.

      • I also don't know how so many graduates are on 100K salaries. I work with a LOT of engineering final year students and the vast majority of them are quite clueless and require extreme hand holding to get anything done. Why would anyone pay them that much? there are the odd great students but we are talking 5-10% of the cohort here

        • It's cheaper for the company to hire them and meld them into the future positions they require. It works out cheaper, especially important in industries where supply is scarce.

    • Not me, I'm around 60k

      • One of the few normal or honest people hah

        • Yeah well I didn't study so I guess I deserve it lol

  • +7
    • Hated school with no direction - 57 ATAR
    • Didn't get into any university course
    • Took gap year and worked full time.
    • Check Uni website for alternative pathways, figured out they accepted TAFE diploma.
    • Finish Diploma in 6 months, got 12 months credit off my double degree (Finance)
    • Started working during uni, got highly competitve job at a large national, got promoted before graduating.

    ATAR means nothing, there is always more than one pathway in life towards your end goal, aside from the most obvious well worn one.

    My lesson learnt: Well worn path is not the only one, and others are just as important to your career progression as yourself.

    • -1

      Double degree in what?

  • Me: ATAR 71 - Bachelor of Commerce then Masters of IT - Making $150,000k @30

    Wife: ATAR 99.6 UMAT 99.8 - MBBS - GP Registrar - Making $80,000k @28 (after 6 years uni & 4 years as resident)

    • If you don't mind my asking, does your wife work full time? I always imagined a GP reg could earn a bit more than that.

      • +26

        what do you mean? She's making 80 million a year

      • GP registrar is essentially a paycut which is insane given the GP shortages - if you stay on in the hospital system doing something else you earn more, even though you're trainee too. Once they finish training it gets better, I don't think it's fair to compare a trainee wage to an established career wage.

      • +1

        Minimum salary for GP registrars is set by NTCER, most practices will pay this or a % of billings, whichever is more.

      • Yes,

        That's full time and above the minimum I think. She was making more as an intern than she does now. Year before GP Reg she was an SRMO making $130k.

        Went into GP for lifestyle and raise kids etc. More important things than just making bank.

        • You can have kids and be a specialist.

          SRMO @130k means she took a bit of overtime. Even a final year advance trainee barely makes that.

      • GP registrars often earn less than hospital doctors at equivalent years in training. Once GP specialisation is achieved they quickly overtake the hospital colleagues.

        • GP specialisation is achieved they quickly overtake the hospital colleagues

          Only until the hospital colleagiesfinish their training

    • Once she has finished her training and builds her patient base, she will earn $300k pa. My highest earning GP is around $600k pa but he work 10hr days.

  • +2

    99.65 when it was "ENTER" back in 1998.

    I loved building software even before uni so I was always going to get into that field one way or another.

    Uni was a double degree in Software Eng + Commerce.

    As others above have stated, getting that 99+ and going straight into uni did result in burnout, and I partied and binged on alcohol in my early 20s to cope.

    Spent a lot of my late 20s and early 30s trying to, but never successfully, building tech startups. Found myself always having to go back and work for someone else just to pay bills (including the d̶e̶a̶t̶h̶ ̶̶g̶r̶i̶p̶ mortgage). This back and forth cycle also resulted in a delayed start to having a family.

    When working for others, I found it's easy to get ahead and climb the ladder if that's what you want and are willing to work hard (which most people in the workplace are not).

    Currently working for someone else building software on an above average (but not crazy high) salary, still with a dwindling dream of starting a successful tech startup "some day".

    TL; DR

    A high score gives options but can result in burnout trying to get it.

    Uni degree was good for the final certificate, but not much else.

    Life is about trade offs - party first then work hard after, or work hard first then hopefully enjoy the rest of your life (but sacrifice your youthful years in the process).

  • I was a fairly distracted student who ended up with an ATAR of 84. Went into Commerce and Economics at a mid-tier university. Quickly found that I loved studying and was getting some very high grades in return. Transferred to a top-tier (GO8) university for my final 2 years and started doing some internships. Graduated about 2 months ago and earning a little over $100k now in data analytics.

  • I received a base score of 94.35*. The star was added due to me going to a pretty rural school and having a serious car accident one or two weeks before the exams.

    Am now a lawyer.

  • +2

    97.9 - I'm a doctor now so it certainly helped. It is by no means impossible to go far even if you don't get a super high ATAR, but it can help kick-start that journey.

  • +4

    Around 98.

    A sleep disease ruined my life, so I guess nowhere…

  • +1

    78.9 ENTER over 10 years ago. Went into science after highschool and realised I sucked at it. Transferred to CS, then into IT. Because CS was getting too hard and I just wanted to do Web dev. Have been remote for the past 5 years. Did a super brief nomad stint with my boyfriend in Asia before COVID. On 180k as a frontend dev

    • Would you be open to turning on your PM?

    • Any advice on getting into webdev? Would a degree be a requirement these days?

  • +1

    Most jobs don't require a 99 ATAR however from experience training interns over the years:

    95 ATAR they'll work it out themselves
    90-95 ATAR you have to tell them which book to look in
    <90 You need to give them the book and you need to do a little explaining

    However they all get it in the end.

    • Interesting.
      When I was an academic the head of department showed me a spread sheet showing 85-90s seemed to out perform the 90-97/8s.

      This was the case for several subjects I took.

      • Well my experience is only anecdotal, but my guess is when the course is structured like in a university course it is easier for more people to pick up, whereas in a more informal, unstructured teaching environment such as on the job, having a higher intelligence/ diligence shows. In uni you have a lot of support and the course is there to ensure you pass, while on the job there is performance pressure and we can't afford to carry dead weight.

  • 98.20 - Got the pick of uni courses. Picked BSc as I love science. Did honours, got a job, went back for PhD and now working in industry again. All the number did was allow me to pick where I studied science, but at the end of the day I would probably be in the same place had I got 80.

    I dont regret working hard though for my ATAR though. It showed me what I was capable of if I put my mind to something and helped set the pace of what I should expect of myself going forward.

  • +4

    I was fortunate enough to find high school very easy. Back in my days there was no ATAR score, as it was in the transition from HSC to VCE in Victoria.
    My score allowed me to choose any university course, and I really didn't know what to do, so I just selected Medicine as I figured I had 6 years to go to uni and could always "transfer down" if I didn't like it.

    In hindsight, I should have taken a gap year, gained more life experience, and then selected a uni course. I bumbled around at uni for 2 years, with nearly all of my high school mates getting kicked out of engineering, science or arts degrees. The Dean threatened to kick me out of university after 2nd year, by which time I decided to pull the finger out, and markedly improved my performance. But no matter how hard I tried, I could never match it with the really bright students and being in a course like Medicine where everyone achieved the maximum score showed me that there was a much bigger pool than what I experienced at high school, and that I was at best, average in my year.

    After 6 years of uni, 1 intern year, 3 years as a resident, 3 years doing post graduate degree and 6 years as a registrar and 1 year as a fellow, I completed specialist training. I missed my high school 20 year reunion as I was sitting my final specialist exams.

    I am involved in training medical students and young doctors, as well as having some involvement in the selection of doctors to enter specialist training. I'm always asked by those wanting to enter Medicine what attributes are needed, and I do feel stamina, and the commitment of putting your studies ahead of your family/friends/social life is more important than so called intelligence.

    During training, I've been sent to 3 different states, often with short notice, and having to drag my wife and kids around until I finally finished. I figure I'll have a 25 year career as a specialist, after all the time it took to study, but the journey was fun, even though long.

  • +2

    A lot of doctors on this thread! (And by default, on OzB!)

    • +7

      doctors of bullshit you mean

    • +1

      yeah im shocked too!

  • +1

    I got a TER of 82.5, did a Primary School Teaching degree, and found a few years into classroom teaching that it didn't suit me. I ended up in Outdoor Recreation which I did for 15 years, using my teaching skills in a completely different way!

    I decided to prioritise my life outside of work, so left my career behind 8 years ago and have had a variety of jobs since. I don't really know if I have a passion for any job in particular, I'm just loving trying new things! At the moment I'm in a data analytics role for the government.

    • Nice! Is it easy to transition to different jobs — did you have to learn how to frame your resume such that you emphasise on key transferrable skills instead of merely experiences?

      • +2

        I kinda fell into some jobs, but yeah if you've had situations you can talk about in an interview it's relatively simple to get other jobs. I had a lot of transferrable skills from my time in Outdoor Recreation, since the position has so many different elements to it. I haven't been overly qualified for a lot of my public service positions, but have developed a good reputation and learn fast, sometimes being offered jobs that I haven't applied for.

        I don't believe my resume has been that big a factor to be honest, it's more about writing a good application, and using good situations from my experience to suit what they're looking for. I recommend keeping resumes short and sweet, I've cut my down a lot over the years. My previous experiences before getting in the public service were retail, lifeguard, swim teacher and pool supervisor, so it wasn't a clear path to an office job that's for sure!

        After a lot of practice, and applying for any jobs, I've gained a lot of experience that has also helped several friends get jobs due to my advice. Being on interview panels I've learnt what they are looking for from a different perspective as well.

        • +1

          Thanks for the insight into your career, and for the resume/application tips. Yeah, it must be an eyeopener being on interview panels and knowing what the final aim of interviews are. It's a key skill these days, especially when they say that the average young person today will have x number of jobs throughout their career.

  • My SACE (I think that's what it was called) score was 68 from memory. I had a pretty unfocused year 12. I remember someone from the uni I applied for ringing me and saying "so I can see you got 68, which is…..good". Thankfully I'd applied for a business degree, and they admit anyone with a pulse into those. I completed a year of that degree, then transferred over into a better degree. Got a grad role straight out of uni, have had some decent jobs, and while I'm far from rich, I live a comfortable life.

  • No ATAR. Tenured now

  • 97.1 ATAR in 2012. got me into aerospace engineering. started with my company as a grad and was making 100k+ at 23. I'm now 26 and on ~150k.

    funny thing is people would always say "no one cares about ATAR after highschool" but nope, it's still brought up every once in a while.

    • +2

      What company? even Boeing is not paying Grads $100k and junior engineers $150k

      • i would prefer not to say. what does boeing pay?

  • 95 equivalent, Engineering. If could go back I should have been an electrician or gone into financial analysis right after uni, I'm still thinking it might be nice to do a career change soon.

    • There's always time. A lot of consulting firms hire engineers as they have good analytical and problem solving skills.

  • +1

    62.55 ATAR from 2016 here. Wanted to do IT but couldn't get in anywhere (uni) so went to TAFE. Hated it so dropped out and have been working liquor retail for 4 years. Might get manager after a while otherwise I don't think ill ever earn more than $45k and I live in Sydney :(

    • You'd be surprised what you can get into if you have the determination to start at the bottom. I went from retail into a Web Publishing job with the government, and learnt a lot about HTML that wasn't even part of the job!

      I'm now a data analyst and learning a lot as I go along, already exceeding team members who were there before me.

      I did a teaching degree, and it's not exactly relevant to my IT roles, so anything is possible!

    • Move to Adelaide your money will go further

  • I think it was called something else 20 years ago but I got 25..didnt get very far.

  • 65~ish ATAR, got into uni with early admission (course needed a 75). Ended up dropping out because I hated uni and the degree. Now I work for the government!

    • What is the grade you started in (VPS/APS/etc.) without a degree?

      Pure curiosity

      • No idea what any of that is tbh. Train Driver here lol

        • +1

          I didn't know that was "government" but I guess that makes sense. I live in IT/Business land.

  • 64.5 ATAR - a little over the median salary atm - chillin and happy

  • +1

    just tried to pass every class that I was in.

    • Got 55 ATAR
    • Enrolled into a single i.t degree
    • Transferred into a double degree
    • Graduated with 0 working experience
    • Took a year off bludging on centrelink
    • Started working help desk job
    • Transferred into banking - nearly two years in and earning 100k

    atar doesn't mean anything but it will give you a direction and create more opportunities in life.

  • Not sure what my ATAR equivalent score was, but I could have done any course except for medicine.

    I'd say ATAR is good for first getting you into your desired course at uni, but nowadays, there are so many options and pathways to get to where you want to go. There are some jobs and industries however, that look at every score you achieved, including your ATAR and grades are uni (i.e. IB and MBB).

  • Honestly dont know how i got it considering how lazzy i have become after leaving school and going to uni

    Nevertheless got around 86 atar and bonus points made it 96 ish and enough for me to get into my desired degree. So yeah Pretty thankful to that but now getting even credit in uni seems too much hardwork

    • What are bonus points for the ATAR?

      • +1

        Bonus points aka adjustment factors or something like that they are called now

        Its like giving extra selection Ranking (not atar but the actual thing that determines your minimum requirement for uni) for like studying in a particular school or particular topic like maths specialist etc

  • Similar to some stories above, I never cared about studying more than to pass

    • got 67 atar
    • got into bachelor of engineering (civil)
    • got an internship in the last year of uni, but continued on
    • applied for internal positions as soon as I graduated (and was technically qualified)
    • moved around in the company a few times, chasing experience and opportunities
    • was making 100k+ 2-3 years after graduation
    • Noone's ever checked my ATAR, or even cited my degree (lol), and now with my experience no-one ever will.

    I''ve learnt that its really about what you make with the opportunities you have. Find a pathway to get where you want, and push your way through. Also, never rely on anyone else, or blame anyone else when it comes to your own progression. Own your mistakes, celebrate your wins.

    Also, people can be nice but no-one really cares enough about anyone else to go out of their way (and no-one owes you anything!). So if you never have those expectations you'll come out self reliant and all the better for it.

  • +3

    ATAR - ~30


    TAFE - Cert III (Hospitality), (Music), (Film), Diploma (Music)

    Local University - BA Art, English Major

    Age 24

    • Unemployed
    • 30k Debt

    • Extraordinary piano player

    • Reads books 2-4 hours every night
    • Writing my own novel
    • Bi-lingual (Japanese Minor)
    • Runs own entertainment production studio (Producing music & webcomics)
    • Designed and maintains own website
    • Has a healthy social life with a close group of friends.
    • Occasionally freelances written content
    • Physically healthy, stylish, clean, can cook
    • Not living with parents
    • Low neutroticism
    • Highly ambitious

    And before you make assumptions, no, I do not come from a wealthy family. Both my parents did not go to uni. Despite my busy and thrilling life, I still search for full-time work seriously; with the goal to one day become an Editor for a Big 5 publishing house.

    • Whoa a score of 30?! I didn't even know you could get that low, well besides nothing!

      • It is considered nothing. When I got my result, it literally said 30 or under lmao. It is probably even under that. I did terribly in high school because I am not good at exams. Uni allowed me to redeem myself through essays and other kinds of non-exam assessments.

  • OP7, now in IT Systems and Networking. Making about ~100k ~15 years after graduation.

  • +1

    74.35 ATAR - Got into UTS doing a Bachelor of Science, Information Technology. Went back to UTS later to do an MBA.

    Currently - Cloud Architect ~150k

  • +4

    No idea - my HSC score was CRAP. I went into games tech support, then marketing, moved states, got retrenched, went back to uni, got a PhD, moved states, and now I'm in a job that I love that pays pretty well.

    I would NOT recommend a PhD to anyone. Think very carefully. Many employers will not touch you.

    • Depends what you want to do. Certain fields PhD is useful. If you want to work in academia than obviously a PhD is the way to go

  • +2

    I worked my ass off in year 12 for an atar of 97. Still didn't get me into med school - ended up doing another course at uni as a bridge to get in. Now working as a GP

  • +1

    Never bothered with ATAR. Got an apprenticeship, did another 5 years post trade courses and I can easily jump between jobs.

    Currently a manager and the sky's the limit.

  • UAI 99.95 - PhD in Medicine.

  • +1

    Got an ATAR > 99.

    I wanted to do Engineering but highest cut-off for engineering in my state was 80. Parents felt that I was 'wasting' my ATAR and so I did an allied health course.

    I hated the allied health course but was 70% through it to meaningfully switch. I might as well finish it.

    Fortunately, the Uni I attend allowed me to do two courses simultaneously. I crazily enrolled in Engineering along with my allied health course (did 8 exams a sem lol). The intro IT course in first year Engineering made me switch to Software Engineering.

    Funnily enough, I got employed as a Software Engineering earlier than my allied health course (I was unemployed for 6 months). First forward a year due to changing employment dynamics, my allied health course qualification pays 3x more than my Grad Software Engineering role.

    I recently managed to 2x my Grad Software Engineering role to be closer in pay to my allied health qualifications.

    But In hindsight, ATAR is useless. Anything more than 80 is good enough (unless you aim for UNSW Software Engineering). But I wish I had used it better to get a free ride (no tuition) in Engineering.

  • +1

    ATAR 99.90 - became a corporate lawyer, coming up on senior level now.

    Worked incredibly hard in high school, was probably the most self-motivated I've ever been. I ended up taking uni a bit easier and still got decent marks, but I could definitely have achieved more if I had applied myself. That said, I don't regret taking the time to do other extracurriculars at uni - I made many friends that way.

    Life in corporate law is intense - you are basically always on call, and long hours are the norm. The additional time you spend on time recording is particularly soul crushing. Fortunately, lots of career choices in my chosen specialisation, so I don't anticipate I'll be doing this forever. Partnership is a dire existence.

  • +1

    About 64 ATAR - low.
    This got me into an architecture degree, I'm now in an executive role at a construction company paying off my 40k HECS debt with a salary of circa 150k.

    • Did you do the masters as well or just the bachelor?

  • 96.7 or 97 ATAR for that matter for HSC in Sydney. Got 6 offers from 6 unis to the courses I applied for. I got a 50% scholarship in UOW (Wollongong uni) because of the marks and did a civil engineer degree there. Now I'm a civil engineer working in Wollongong and doing small council projects nothing fancy. Looking back the high ATAR definitely helped me set up a good career prospect and job value (like I'm doing ok now given many people lost their jobs due to covid), but at the same time that high ATAR did not really equate to anything extraordinary for that matter. Then again having a roof over my head and a family with a new born child and good job to pay for all that right now is already a luxury to have in my opinion. It is all a matter of perspective!

  • +1

    High school was easy for me, but was adamant was never going to University so I was part of the first Vocational Education Year 11&12 program back in the day, basically school 3 days per week, prac 2 days per week doing admin and got paid a pittance to do it - Finished Year 12 with a Cert 2 in business.

    Life changed around age 22-23, wanted a better job etc. decided to sit the STAT test (Mature age entry) to get into Uni. Scored 97% of the Math, failed the English but got a university to accept me regardless. Finished Undergrad Exercise and Sport Science and went straight into Post Graduate Medicine - Now a doctor.

    Wife on the flip-side scored a 98 on her ATAR and did nursing, then went back later on and did post grad med - Also a doctor.

    ATAR is just a step in a path, if you mess it up it isnt the end of the world

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