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Andrew Arkley|January 20, 2023

12 Highest Paying Jobs In The UK

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Job satisfaction, work life balance and salary are key criteria for most employees – and if the latter matters to you the most, we’ve compiled a list of the highest paying jobs in the UK.

If you didn’t go to university, that’s no problem – we’ve also identified some of the highest paying jobs in the UK that don’t require a degree.

Our list is based on the average annual salaries according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) from its Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings

So without further ado, here are the highest paying jobs in the UK. 

The salary figures given are the ONS’ estimation of mean gross annual pay.

12. Production managers and directors in manufacturing: £60,156 p.a.

Production managers and directors oversee teams in manufacturing industries – including architecture, wholesale trade, construction, metal, machinery and food. 

It’s only at #12 on our list, but the average annual salary is still over £60,000 per year!Most applicants have a degree, graduate diploma or level 6 NVQ. Future job growth is estimated at over 6% by 2027 and close to 180,000 job openings will be created to replace a retiring workforce.

11. Solicitors and lawyers: £62,939 p.a.

No list of the highest paying jobs in the UK is complete without mentioning lawyers! Solicitors advise clients about the law and act on their behalf in legal matters.

The National Careers Service suggests a salary range between £25,000 for a starter and £100,000 upwards for an experienced lawyer. 

You need an undergraduate degree, must pass the Solicitors Qualifying Exam and complete two years of relevant work experience.

10. Senior officers in fire, ambulance, prison and related services: £63,591 p.a.

In these roles you plan, organise and oversee a team and their activities running their service – involving the fire brigade, ambulances, prison or detention centres and so on.

Once you’re working in fire or ambulance services, senior officer promotions tend to be made internally. In the prison service, the competition is more open.

9. Senior police officers: £64,110 p.a.

Similar to the above, senior police officers direct resources and activities in an area of generalised or specialised police work. There are several routes you can take to become a police officer. 

After your degree, you can apply to the Degree Holder or Police Now programmes, for example. Or, there’s a three year work-based Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship programme.

8. Aircraft pilots: £72,131 p.a.

Airline pilots fly passengers and cargo to destinations around the world. Experienced pilots could earn about £110,000 – but of course you’d need to be happy working evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

Entry routes include taking a relevant university degree, applying directly via the Civil Aviation Authority and seeking a place on an airline’s pilot training programme.

7. Head teachers and principals: £74,104 p.a.

Headteachers manage schools and create a strategy for children plus staff to achieve the best results possible.

As you would expect, several years’ prior experience as a teacher are essential. Training programmes can help you move up the ladder – for example, the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership or the National Professional Qualification for Headship.

6. Functional managers and directors: £75,477 p.a.

Halfway through our list of the highest paying jobs in the UK, functional managers or directors oversee a wide variety of senior management tasks. 

Sectors or industries with the most vacancies include services to buildings, legal and accounting, computer programming, head offices and membership organisations. 

Most applicants have a degree, graduate diploma or level 6 NVQ.

5. Information technology directors: £82,363 p.a.

IT directors plan, organise and oversee the work and resources required to run technology services for a company. 

With technology continuously improving and essential for efficiency and security, IT directors are in high demand. Most candidates have a degree or equivalent qualification and a range of professional or postgraduate certifications are available.

4. Specialist medical practitioners: £83,482 p.a.

Specialist medical practitioners diagnose, treat and prevent illness, disease, injury and other physical or mental impairments – using specialised testing, diagnostic, medical, surgical, physical and psychiatric techniques.

Examples include psychiatrists, paediatricians, gynaecologists, cardiologists, anaesthetists and so on. 

Before taking the necessary specialist training, the starting point is a five year medical degree recognised by the General Medical Council and then a two year foundation programme.

3. Financial managers and directors: £91,853 p.a.

In these roles you plan, organise and oversee financial information as well as advising on your company’s policies.

Finance directors tend to have a degree in accounting, finance or similar. Employers may favour applicants with a MBA or an equivalent master’s degree.

2. Marketing, sales and advertising directors: £95,818 p.a.

These directors design and monitor their marketing, sales or advertising strategies at their firms.

Highly experienced workers could earn up to £137,561 according to UCAS. In the past year, there were close to 230,000 vacancies for these roles.

1. Chief executives and senior officials: £121,434 p.a.

As you would expect, those at the very top have the highest paying jobs in the UK! CEOs have the final say on policies and provide overall direction for private and public sector companies. 

The most open vacancies are in computer programming, head offices, auxiliary services, financial services or legal and accounting.

Highest paying jobs in the UK without a degree

Often, to get one of the 12 highest paying jobs in the UK listed above, you’ll need a degree. 

But that’s not always the case, so check specific entry requirements in detail to see if you could also start your journey via another route, such as a college course or apprenticeship.

Either way, a degree isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to earning the big bucks.

Here are some other jobs high up on the ONS’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings list that do not commonly require a degree, according to sources including the National Careers Service.

We’ve also included the mean salary figures cited by the ONS:

  • Train and tram drivers: £59,203 – offering similar pay to job #12 on the list above, entry routes include an apprenticeship and applying directly
  • Driving instructors: £54,712 – to teach people how to drive, apply for approval and look for a training provider on the register guide
  • Police officers: £43,605 – while the starting point for some will be a degree, there are several other potential entry routes
  • Newspaper and periodical journalists and reporters: £35,952 – the certification most staff need is provided by the National Council for the Training of Journalists
  • Plumbers & heating and ventilating installers and repairers: £33,380 – the key here is to take a relevant and specific course depending on the role you’re aiming for

These are just a few examples – there are plenty of other high paying jobs available in the UK that don’t require a degree.

Also consider going down the self-employment route. You can earn a lot as a web designer or personal trainer, for example.

Summary: highest paying jobs in the UK

So now you know – the highest paying jobs in the UK include a wide range of roles, involving everything from manufacturing and flying planes to teaching and marketing.

And whichever industry you choose, making it all the way to the top and becoming the CEO is a surefire way to rake it in.

Our blog is full of advice about aiming for your dream job – for example, here’s how to write a supporting statement for a job application that will grab hiring managers’ attention. 

And we’ve also outlined how to write a career change cover letter if you’re thinking about switching sectors. From beginner to boardroom, we can help by writing a CV that helps you on the journey up the career ladder – please contact us to find out more.

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