What are the highest paying jobs in the UK, what’s involved, what qualifications do you need and how much can you expect to earn? Take a look at 20 of the best paying careers below.
Top 10 best paying jobs
- Aircraft Pilot and Flight Engineers £92,330
- Chief Executive £85,239
- Member of Parliament £81,932
- Marketing and Sales Directors £80,759
- Legal Professional n.e.c. £77,212
- Information Technology and Telecommunications Directors £69,814
- Financial Managers and Directors £67,114
- Advertising and Public Relations Directors £63,362
- Medical Practitioner £62,219
- Functional Managers and Directors n.e.c. £57,345
What are the best-paid jobs in the UK?
I’m going to shock you all by admitting I don’t have one of the highest-paid jobs in the UK. The fact is, if I did, I wouldn’t have time to write this. I would either be busy working or sitting on a private beach somewhere.
But I recently wrote a post about making money from gaming and I was surprised by how much people could earn working in the industry. That got me thinking about finding and sharing the best-paid jobs in the UK.
First of all, narrowing down the best paying jobs isn’t easy. Companies will not necessarily pay the same wage for the same role. For example, a chief executive at a company with 10,000 employees will be paid far more than his equivalent who leads 100 employees. That makes it very difficult to find exact figures.
10 Highest paying jobs in the UK
Fortunately, the Office of National Statistics collects all kinds of data, including wages. The figures below have been taken from the ONS website. All figures are gross.
Aircraft Pilot and Flight Engineers
This is one of the more glamorous jobs and needs little introduction. Whether you want to work for a major airline, or fly international stars to their next concert, the sky’s the limit (sorry). There are 4 main ways to become an aircraft pilot:
- A university course.
- Applying directly.
- A trainee scheme.
- Specialist courses run by private training organisations.
To start a course at university, you will need A levels or equivalent qualifications and a minimum of a Class 2 medical certificate.
You’ll start by training as a co-pilot and once you have 1,500 flying hours under your belt, you can apply for a full Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) and qualify as an airline captain.
Wages start at around £35,000 but soon increase.
Average wage: £92,330
There are quite a few chief executive roles available, such as chief information officer, chief financial officer and chief technology officer. These execs are at the top of the tree in organisations and although they earn well, there’s an incredible amount of stress that comes with the territory. But not only do you earn a hefty wage, you’ll often grab a yearly bonus too, depending on the performance of the company.
The good news is, you don’t necessarily need to have qualifications to be a chief executive. Well, that is, if you start the company yourself. Otherwise, you’ll find that most people drafted into a position of power in a company are educated to degree level.
Average wage: £85,239
Member of Parliament
That’s right, your local MP is one of the highest paid jobs out there. Whether they’re brand new to the role or have been there for 30 years, each MP is paid the same.
But there are plenty of other benefits that come with the role too. They can claim allowances to cover the cost of running their office and employing staff to help. They can even claim extra money to help cover the cost of a residence in London, to save on travel from their constituency to the Houses of Parliament.
The good news is, you don’t need any qualifications whatsoever to become an MP. The bad news is, you need to be elected into position, which can be very difficult to do unless you join one of the major parties.
And sometimes, your career can be out of your hands. You can be the best MP in the country, but lose your position because your political party has fallen out of favour.
Average wage: £81,932
Marketing and Sales Directors
Marketing and sales directors are in charge of defining the whole sales/marketing strategy within a business, which is no easy task. On top of that, they are often in charge of hiring staff and building a team.
They will need to advise their team on deals, help optimise the sales processes and tactics, promote the business and products, as well as assist in closing deals. Ultimately, a company can only be successful if it sells well.
You need to be well qualified for the position. Most companies look for
- Bachelor’s degree in a business-related field.
- A Master’s degree in a business-related field may be advantageous.
- Minimum of seven years’ experience in a sales leadership position.
- Minimum of four years’ experience working in a selling role and with sales technology and CRM software.
Average wage: £80,759
Legal Professional n.e.c.
There are plenty of different careers in the legal system you can pursue, with some paying far better than others. For example, you can draft and negotiate contracts on behalf of employers, provide legal advice to individuals within Citizens Advice and Law Centres or represents public and private organisations in court as necessary.
There are plenty of areas of law that you can specialise in, so it’s a matter of choosing what you find most interesting.
As you become more experienced, you may have the opportunity to become a partner in a law firm. You will stop receiving a salary, but will instead receive a share of profits. In 2018, the top 50 firms paid partners £719,000.
To join the profession, you will need a qualifying degree or postgraduate diploma. There will then be a further year’s academic training and then up to 4 years of being assessed in a legal practice.
Average wage: £77,212
Information Technology and Telecommunications Directors
A job I struggle to write, let alone actually do. Not the most exotic of jobs and not something we all dream of doing when younger, yet this is one of the best paying jobs.
Typically, you are in charge of all IT and telecommunications within your organisation and will be expected to plan, organise, direct and co-ordinate the work and resources necessary for the smooth running of the firm.
There are no specific qualifications you need for entry into the job, although possessing a degree often helps. You will need plenty of experience in this line of work though.
Average wage: £69,814
Financial Managers and Directors
Financial managers and directors plan, organise, direct and co-ordinate financial information and advise on company financial policy.
Although their pay is slightly lower compared to other directors in a company, they are still an integral component.
Some posts require specific professional qualifications, although there are no specific qualifications you need for employment. A degree in the relevant field will always help.
Average wage: £67,114
Advertising and Public Relations Directors
These directors manage communications campaigns and strategies for their organisation or clients. Their main aim is to promote a positive image of their company to clients.
This is another role that doesn’t need a specific qualification, although it can help to have a relevant degree.
Average wage: £63,362
A medical practitioner can include a physician or a surgeon. The more specialised field you follow, the more you can earn. But this is a highly skilled job and you will need to be well qualified with a lot of training behind you. For example, a surgeon will need:
- A 5-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council.
- A 2-year foundation programme of general training.
- 2 years of core surgical training in a hospital.
- And up to 6 years of specialist training.
If you fancy becoming a local GP, the training is a little shorter, although the pay is generally less. You will need:
- a 5-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council
- a 2-year foundation course of general training
- a 3-year specialist training course in general practice
Average wage £62,219
Functional Managers and Directors n.e.c.
Functional managers and directors perform a variety of senior management tasks. Examples of tasks they perform include:
- Help to formulate and implement local government policy and ensures legal and statutory provisions are observe.
- Organise local authority office work and resources, negotiate contracted out services.
- Plan, organise, coordinate and direct the resources of a special interest organisation.
- Formulate and direct the implementation of an organisation’s policies.
- Represent union, association or charity in consultation and negotiation with government, employees and other bodies.
Qualifications vary from job to job. Some will train you whilst you work.
Average wage: £57,345
Highest paying UK jobs 11-20
- Senior Police Officers £56,665
- Senior Professionals of Educational Establishments £56,481
- Train and Tram Drivers £56,091
- Ship and Hovercraft Officers £53,705
- Financial Institution Managers and Directors £53,365
- Higher Education Teaching Professionals £51,224
- IT Specialist Managers £51,053
- Electrical Engineers £50,866
- Health Services and Public Health Managers and Directors £50,837
- IT Business Analysts, Architects and System Designers £50,775
Unsurprisingly, if you want to earn big money, you’ll need to top management in a large firm… or a pilot. However, professional occupations pay well too, although you will often need to have decent qualifications behind you.
It’s certainly possible for many of us to reach higher, but it will take a lot of work.
n.e.c. (not elsewhere classified) refers to all other jobs within a given industry that aren’t classified under another title.
Which are high paying jobs without a degree?
Air Traffic Controller
Offshore Energy Work