Statistics released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency on June show 36 per cent of full-time first degree graduates who left university last year and had found employment six months later were working in occupational groups classed as non-professional.
Such roles include office administrators, sales and customer service positions, machine operators and retail and bar workers.
Of the full-time first degree graduates who were employed in the UK, 64 per cent were in posts classified as professional employment, according to the report, titled titled Destination of Leavers from Higher Education in the United Kingdom for the Academic Year 2011-12.
The report says comparisons with figures for the previous year should not be made, as the methodology has been changed.
Out of a total of 232,110 full-time first degree graduates from 2011-12 whose destinations were known, nine per cent were unemployed.
A further 15 per cent were in further study and 72 per cent were in employment (including those in both work and further study).
Of those in full-time paid employment who disclosed their income, the mean salary was £21,000 – the threshold at which students will begin to pay back their student loans under the new system introduced in September 2012.
The median salary was £20,000, with male graduates earning £21,000 a year compared to women graduates, who received £19,000 a year.
Unemployment rates differed significantly between the subjects studied by first-time graduates.
Fourteen per cent of computer science students were unemployed, as were 11 per cent doing creative arts and design subjects, while just four per cent of education graduates were out of work and 0 per cent of qualified doctors or dentists were unemployed.