Have you got one of the best paid jobs in the UK? The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released its Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2016, and we’ve looked at the top 10 highest paid jobs in the country and what you need to do to get one of them.
To obtain the data, the ONS surveyed a random sample of 1% of all the workers who carry out each occupation, using 2015/2016 pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) tax records.
This means bonuses are included, but self-employed workers and celebrities who don’t appear on company payrolls are excluded. Information about niche occupations – for example, salaried professional footballers or TV presenters – has also been suppressed by the ONS to avoid identifying individual pay packets.
So which jobs have made it into the Top 10 this year? Who got the biggest pay rise? And how does the pay of the highest earners in the land compare with the average pay of all full-time employees in the UK, who, according to the ONS, earned £34,414 and typically received a 2.3% pay rise this year?
Pay for stockmarket traders and other brokers has risen by 6.2% this year.
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Pay for stockmarket traders and other brokers has risen by 6.2% this year. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
Includes: Stockbrokers, traders on the stock exchange, foreign exchange dealers, insurance brokers.
Average pay before tax: £133,868.
Pay range: Data about the lower, middle and upper pay range of brokers was not deemed reliable enough to be published this year, due to the relatively small number of brokers in the PAYE system.
Annual change: Up by 6.2% (£8,300). The Wealth Management Association, which represents small firms of stockbrokers, says the remuneration of stockbrokers is “a market issue”. It declined to offer any reason for the above-average increase in pay.
Entry requirements: There are no formal academic requirements, although many employers will require you to possess a degree or equivalent qualification. Training is typically undertaken in-house.
2. Chief executives
Includes: Vice-presidents, chief medical officers, civil servants (grade 5 and above).
Average pay before tax: £123,577.
Pay range: £41,875 (10th percentile) to £142,686 (75th percentile). Median is £89,932.
Annual change: Down by 0.6% (£741). Shareholders can take the credit for this, a spokesperson for the Confederation of British Industry says. “Shareholders now have a binding vote on executive pay policies and, encouragingly, we are seeing them become more active in this area. High remuneration at executive level must always be squarely linked to outstanding performance.”
Entry requirements: Years of relevant experience and a strong track record of good business decisions. An MBA and/or a financial qualification might help.
3. Marketing directors
Includes: Sales directors.
Average pay before tax: £87,890.
Pay range: £44,654 (20th percentile) to £110,010 (80th percentile). Median is £74,994.
Annual change: Down by 2.5% (£2,197). Tim Bourne, chairman of the Marketing Agencies Association, says businesses are making efficiency cuts in response to increased competition from rival brands and pricing pressure from retailers.
Entry requirements: A degree, and years of experience as a marketing or sales manager. You may also need a qualification from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
4. Aircraft pilots
Includes: First officers of airlines, flight engineers, flying instructors, helicopter pilots.
Average pay before tax: £86,915.
Pay range: £68,354 (30th percentile) to £89,928 (60th percentile). Median is £86,855.
Annual change: Down by 0.6% (£521), which is reflective of the increase in budget airlines, says Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA). “Wages in these companies tend to be lower, therefore this reduces the average pilot wage across the board.”
Entry requirements: BALPA recommends good GCSE passes in maths, English, science and a second language and at least two good A-levels. With a Class 1 medical certificate and a private pilot licence with 170 hours of flight time under your belt, you can then obtain a commercial pilot licence, which typically costs more than £100,000 and takes two years. You must build up 1,500 flying hours to fully qualify as a commercial pilot.
5. Financial managers and directors
Financial managers’ pay has risen due to the concerns of businesses around the Brexit vote.
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Financial managers’ pay has risen due to the concerns of businesses around the Brexit vote. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
Includes: Investment bankers, Treasury managers.
Average pay before tax: £84,675.
Pay range: £29,793 (10th percentile) to £104,849 (80th percentile). Median is £64,432.
Annual change: Up by 2.4% (£2,032), reflecting the concerns of businesses before the Brexit vote. “Demand has risen for candidates with the right financial skills – it’s not just about the bottom line and balancing the books now, it’s about looking ahead and identifying risks and opportunities,” says Anthony Walters, spokesperson for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
Entry requirements: A relevant degree typically, and a recognised accountancy or corporate finance qualification from a professional accountancy body, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, or the ACCA.
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6. In-house lawyers
Includes: Attorneys, legal consultants.
Average pay before tax: £80,210.
Pay range: £36,610 (10th percentile) to £94,458 (75th percentile). Median is £69,058.
Annual change: Down by 1.1% (£882), following a decline in the number of in-house vacancies in the run-up to the EU referendum. “Candidates are more aware that to make the move from private practice to in-house they do have to take a cut on their basic salary,” says Rebecca Garland, spokesperson for in-house legal recruitment agency Barclay Simpson. “In-house legal departments have also been more inclined to stick rigidly to their salary budgets.”
Entry requirements: A law degree or postgraduate diploma. You will then need to complete a legal practice course (LPC) and win a two-year training contract.
7. Air traffic controllers
Includes: Air traffic service assistants, flight planners.
Average pay before tax: £81,132.
Pay range: £84,877 (median) to £88,645 (60th percentile). No other data about the pay range of air traffic controllers was available this year.
Annual change: Up by 3.8% (£3,045). A spokesperson for NATS, the main air navigation service provider in the UK, says salaries are high because individual controllers have responsibility for thousands of lives at one time. “It’s important we’re able to attract the best people.” However, he says the pay rise NATS offered to its own employees was “definitely lower” than 3.8%.
Entry requirements: Five GCSEs and a valid air traffic controller’s licence, which typically means passing the NATS vocational course. Fewer than 0.5% of applicants (15 out of 3,300) are successful each year.
8. Medical practitioners
The British Medical Council says many doctors will not receive the salaries outlined by the ONS in their career.
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The British Medical Council says many doctors will not receive the salaries outlined by the ONS in their career. Photograph: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images
Includes: Anaesthetists, hospital consultants, GPs, paediatricians, psychiatrists, radiologists, surgeons.
Average pay before tax: £78,386.
Pay range: £30,291 (10th percentile) to £132,613 (90th percentile). Median pay is £74,885.
Annual change: Down by 2.5% (£1,960). “The pay of all doctors has been steadily squeezed by successive pay freezes and cuts, with salaries falling back to levels seen around 10 years ago – despite rising patient demand and declining budgets for patient services,” a spokesperson for the British Medical Association says. “The starting salary for the vast majority of doctors is around £23,000. Many will not receive the salaries outlined by the ONS at any point in their career.”
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Entry requirements: A university degree from a medical school recognised by the General Medical Council. The British Medical Association then says to become a doctor you must undertake two years of foundation training, then another two years of core medical training, then between four and six years of specialty training or three years of training as a GP. To stay registered with the GMC, all doctors are expected to demonstrate their fitness to practise through gaining continuing professional development points every year.
9. IT and telecommunications directors
IT professionals are in short supply, says Geoff Smith of Experis.
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IT professionals are in short supply, says Geoff Smith of Experis. Photograph: Andrew Rich/Getty Images
Includes: Technical directors of computer services.
Average pay before tax: £78,071.
Pay range: £42,471 (10th percentile) to £84,306 (75th percentile). Median is £71,161.
Annual change: Up by a huge 9.1% (£7,104), which Geoff Smith, managing director of IT workforce solutions provider Experis, says is no surprise. “IT professionals are in short supply, and with competition for top talent at an all-time high, companies are increasingly willing to pay more to bring in individuals with the right skills.”
Entry requirements: A degree (typically in programming, computer science or a related field) and several years of relevant experience.
10. Financial institution managers and directors
Includes: Bank manager, insurance manager.
Average pay before tax: £75,169.
Pay range: £29,530 (10th percentile) to £91,543 (80th percentile). Median is £53,322.
Annual change: Down by 8.2% (£6,164). “All banks are frantically trying to cut costs,” says Sarah Butcher, editor-at-large of eFinancialCareers.com. “A combination of low interest rates, political uncertainty and the need to make big investments in technology infrastructure has been eating away at banks’ bottom lines.”
Entry requirements: You do not necessarily need a degree, just years of experience in the banking or the financial sector. You must also be an “approved person” to control a bank. That means passing the Financial Conduct Authority’s “fit and proper” test.
The average salary shown is the mean. Only full-time employed workers who stayed in the same job over the course of the entire 2015/2016 tax year were included. Reliable data was not consistently collected by the ONS for the 10th and 90th percentiles, so the pay range stated is the broadest available.