We are part of a society that expects a fairly high standard of living; significantly higher than that of our parents or our parent’s parents. The days where a foreign holiday was considered a luxury for the elite are long gone and if you choose a ‘stay-cation’ over a cruise or even a budget beach holiday overseas then you really must be slumming it.
You only have one car in the driveway and you don’t have the latest iPhone? Well, the Jones’s next door must be doing a lot better than you.
Yet if you’re going to keep up with society’s elevated expectations then you’re going to need a salary to accommodate those needs and not just for you but your partner and your 2.3 children.
So how you might choose to do it?
The average wage
The average wage in the UK for a male according to jobsite Monster is £30,534; and for a woman it’s £25,140 (there’s another conversation just waiting to be had), and the list of available jobs and trades above and below that figure are many and diverse; but who are the highest paid and how can you join them?
The figures are obviously affected by geographical location; the average salary in London is between five and six thousand pounds higher than of other UK cities, and that’s before you start to look at the drop in the average salary in towns and villages.
The leading industries paying the best salaries are led by financial services, information technology and software development, coming in at around £5,000 more per year than in construction and manufacturing, and £10,000 per year more than in education or retail.
As you’d expect airline pilots and flight engineers are up there as some of the top earners in the region of £100k. Marketing and sales is big business too with directors earning in excess of £80–90k. Legal professionals and finance directors aren’t too far off earning around £75k with IT company directors and medical practitioners only a few thousand behind them with average salaries of around £70k.
Also at around the £75k figure are our beloved MPs; and if you’ve got thick enough skin and you really want the job then how about earning £150k for being the Prime Minister?
If you’ve spent your twenty- to thirty-something thousand pounds acquiring your degree you’ll want it to give you a distinct advantage when entering the world of employment. The following positions and their median average starting salaries were announced by the Institute of Student Employers in September 2017.
Gaining your qualification as an accountant will generally take three or four years with a suitable professional body, and most accounting firms will pay your examination fees and allocate you time for training if you’re studying in employment, but once qualified you can expect a starting salary at around £26,000. From qualification there is plenty of room to manoeuvre through the pay scale because in as little as six or seven years you can advance to become a chartered accountant with a salary up to £70k.
If you’re looking at qualifying as a solicitor any graduates joining the larger commercial companies can expect one of the highest starting salaries in the industry at around £38k.
A graduate starting in the field of IT can expect a starting salary anywhere between £25–40k depending on their field. The lower end salaries were with companies DSTL and BAE Systems and the higher salaries with Alfa and Meta-switch Networks. BT offer around £30,000 for their technology roles too.
Graduate engineers can look forward to a large salary if they’re lucky enough to start with any of the international oil companies at around £40,000 but as little as £18,000 with smaller regional companies; yet this can grow to the higher expected salary of between £40–50k for experienced workers in their field.
In civil and structural engineering the graduate salaries start at around £20–30k with some of the larger employers, but again with smaller regional businesses they could expect to start on significantly less.
A teacher will start on a minimum of £22,467 (and up to £28,098 in London) but private academies and independent schools will often offer more.
Although many of the public sector graduate roles offer a salary that will often match those of the private sector the highest paid of those is within the Metropolitan Police offering a starting salary of £29,000.
What if you don’t have a degree?
Don’t despair – just ask a host of the nations biggest entrepreneurs who didn’t finish (or even start) university and still ended up running some of the countries most profitable companies.
Here are a few options you might want to consider.
Traditional tradesmen’s salaries
According to the Office for National Statistics the average UK salary for an electrician is £30,444; a plumber isn’t too far behind on £29,136; with carpenters and bricklayers earning an average of around £25k too.
Other professional roles to consider
A construction manager can earn around £55k and wouldn’t necessarily need a degree to land the role. Neither would an air traffic controller whose average salary would be around the £48k mark.
Slightly lower salaries but still not to be sniffed at are maintenance managers or fitness managers both supporting salaries at around the mid- £30k mark; or how about becoming an executive assistant for only a few thousand a year less than that?
A hotel manager can command a salary of £27k or the often-detested estate agent who will never be short of work can also earn around a £26k salary. But when it comes to one of the most frowned upon careers (apart from traffic wardens who can earn anywhere between £15k and £30k) then the car salesmen can earn his £26k salary in an executive role.
Or if you’re looking for something more unusual
You can earn between £25–£50k in a career in the mining industry; a prison officer will start on £18k but can advance to a salary of around £33k; and testing IT companies systems will earn an ethical hacker between £36–90k.
The most unusual job spotted so far with a very healthy remuneration is a chicken sexer — if you’re patient, delicate and have great eyesight you can earn up to £40k but where you’d go about applying for the role I wouldn’t be sure!