Students in it for the money should be training to be engineers or doctors and not actors.
The Ministry of Education has just released a report showing the earning potential of young graduates.
As expected, medical students will be high earners with an average wage of almost three times the New Zealand median income of $38,663 after five years.
When it comes to shorter courses, engineers and other trades, including building, are the top earners.
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Civil engineers who take shorter courses earn two-thirds more than the median wage after five years.
Those who study building earn on average 52 per cent more.
Otago Polytechnic architecture, building and engineering head of school Richard Nyhof said it was not a surprise that engineers and builders were among the highest earners.
"Someone finishing a diploma of engineering in two years can turn that into quite strong earning power with a relatively small student loan."
The lowest earners were people who trained in performing arts. Those who took shorter courses earned 17 per cent less than the median wage after five years and those on longer courses 2 per cent more.
Other courses with poor earning potential included philosophy and religious studies, language and literature and communication and media studies.