What are the best-paid jobs in the UK?


Pilot and flight attendant with luggage talking and walking to gate at airport

Given that the cost of living is rising so much faster than wages - and has been for the last five years - it's a rare person who hasn't taken one look at all the month left at the end of the money and wondered whether they could be doing something much more rewarding with their time.

Now the Office for National Statistics has revealed the things we really ought to be doing - in its annual list of the best paid jobs.

It's worth highlighting that this list misses off some of the highest paid professions in the country like footballers and pop stars, because it doesn't count people who work for themselves. Similarly it doesn't count bonuses - which make up an enormous slice of pay for much-loved professions like banking.

However, it should give us a steer as to the professions which could hold the key to your fortune.

1. CEO

Pay is an average of £84,453, and for that you'll be expected to live and breathe the job. You'll also be held accountable for everything the business does, and you'll spend most of your life in meetings.

Getting into the business is quite tricky. You could start your own firm, then make it massively successful and employ yourself as CEO. Alternatively you can work your way up. It's worth knowing that many of the most successful CEOs come from the finance side of the business, for which a major way in is as an accountant.

2. Aircraft pilots

Average annual pay is £78,356. The pay for pilots has been held high by the fact it requires such complex training and examination - which you have to pay for yourself. At the same time it is highly unionised, so wages are vigorously fought for.

Getting into flying is difficult, because you'll need to have flown for 150 hours (at your own huge expense) before you can start the process of getting a commercial pilot's licence. At that point there are nine exams, hours of training, and a cost of £60,000.

3. Marketing Directors

Average annual pay is £68,438, and for that you are in charge of the nebulous notion of branding. You'll need to be able to sell yourself and the company on a regular basis, and have the confidence to go out on a limb with 'creative' ideas that could end up getting you sacked if they don't go to plan.

Getting into the business nowadays usually starts with a related degree, and involves working your way up.

4. Air Traffic Controllers

Average annual pay is £64,889, and for that you'll have the responsible and stressful job of ensuring people don't fly into each other. Pay is high in this business because there are so few people who are able to do the job. It's also heavily unionised.

Getting in doesn't require many qualifications. If you transfer from the RAF it doesn't require any. However, you'll need to pass incredibly difficult tests, and go through intensive training with more tests. Only a few people can do this job, so getting in isn't as easy as it may seem.

5. Doctors

Average annual pay is £63,677, and the work can be anything from a specialist hospital consultant to a radiologist or a GP.

Getting in is one of the most formalised and traditional routes. You'll need a medical degree which takes five or six years, plus additional training for up to four years in your chosen specialism.

6. Company lawyers

Average pay in the field is £63,484 and your job can include everything from fighting people making claims against the firm, to ensuring the business toes the line with employees, customers and suppliers.

Getting in is another formal business, involving a degree and a post-graduate legal qualification.

7. Public relations directors

Average pay is £60,486. For this you will need to be an expert in spin, a media star, a communications guru, and a self-publicist with friends in all the right places.

Getting in can be a case of getting a PR qualification and then working your way up, or transferring from a successful journalism career.

8. Senior police officers

Average pay is £57,664, and for this you'll need to be a chief constable, police commissioner or someone similarly senior. At this stage, your job involves very little policing, and a huge amount of meetings and paperwork.

Getting in is a long business of going through a regimented promotion process. However, in future the government has said the police will be able to recruit from outside the country and outside the force.

9. IT directors

Average pay is £55,426, and to earn this you'll need an odd combination of the technical know-how you need to lead the technology of the business - and the people skills to be able to manage the process and the people.

Getting into the role usually starts with an IT degree, and then further management experience and qualifications.

10. Senior officers in protective services

Average pay is £54,539, which applies to the most senior roles in the armed forces, fire services, ambulance and prison services. At this stage the job itself isn't massively unlike being a senior police officer, or a CEO. It's about leadership, decision-making, communications, and endless meetings.

Getting in depends on the service in question, but is usually a combination of industry-specific qualifications, experience and a complex promotion system. Having a degree is usually very helpful at every stage of the process, although not specifically required.

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