Highest-paying jobs in the UK

Which professions pay the most and what is the most commonly searched job?

Some of us can’t wait to head to work every morning, while others count down the days to the weekend. Whatever category you fall into, it is likely that you’re in the majority of Brits who need to work in order to support themselves and save money.

There is a huge variety of jobs available out there and a big difference in the salary each offers as well. We’ve looked into the UK’s most popular jobs, the professions that pay you the most and those that pay the least.

Quick stats

  • The average salary in the UK is £29,588 per year.
  • The most common job in the world is a retail sales assistant.
  • CEOs earn the most in the UK making an average salary of £97,083, while bar staff earn the least, on average £15,072 per year.
  • Just under a quarter (23%) of the UK’s workforce are members of a trade union, compared to 32.4% 25 years ago.

Highest-paid jobs in the UK

The highest average UK salary is enjoyed by CEOs. Their average salary of £97,083 is a staggering 228% above the UK’s average. Doctors take second spot, pocketing £75,855 for their hard work.

Title Income per year
CEOs and senior officials £97,083
Medical practitioners £75,855
Marketing and sales directors £75,126
Information technology telecommunications directors £72,109
Legal professionals n.e.c. £69,992
Financial managers and directors £67,593
Advertising and public relations directors £65,074
Senior police officers £59,634
Functional managers and directors n.e.c. £57,098
Train and tram drivers £53,403

Lowest-paid jobs in the UK

Many of the roles in the list of lowest-paid jobs in the UK are in hospitality and they’re often carried out on a flexible, part-time basis. The lowest average wage (if working full-time) belongs to the bar staff who earn £15,072 – 49% less than the national average. However, they also receive tips as part of their income, which isn’t reflected in the salary.

  • Kitchen catering assistants, £15,705
  • Launderers, dry cleaners and pressers, £15,614
  • Hairdressers and barbers, £15,610
  • Waiters and waitresses, £15,454
  • Bar staff, £15,072

Which region earns the most?

Across the UK the average median salary is just shy of £30,000, standing at £29,588. This works out as £569 per week.

As you might expect, Londoners take home significantly more than this and earn the most of all the regions. The average salary there is £37,086, which is 20% above the UK average.

The only other average regional salary that breaks the £30k mark is the South East, where residents earn an average of £30,638.

The lowest average salary can be found in the North East, where they take home £26,354. This is around 12% lower than the UK average.

Region Median full-time gross weekly earnings Median full-time gross yearly earnings
UK £569.00 £29,588.00
London £713.20 £37,086.40
South East £589.20 £30,638.40
Scotland £563.20 £29,286.40
East £558.10 £29,021.20
West Midlands £536.60 £27,903.20
South West £531.20 £27,622.40
North West £529.60 £27,539.20
Northern Ireland £521.20 £27,102.40
Yorkshire and the Humber £520.80 £27,081.60
East Midlands £515.90 £26,826.80
Wales £509.00 £26,468.00
North East £506.80 £26,353.60

You may have dreamed of being an astronaut or rockstar as a kid, but if you’re anything like the general population, you’ve probably searched for one of the following jobs recently. These are the 10 most popular job searches, which reflects the online skills of the UK’s workforce now. A data scientist would take home the most money from the jobs on the list, with an average salary of £46,665. The lowest salary from this list of popular jobs is for a graphic designer, who only gets compensated with £25,543 per year for their skills.

Title Average base salary
Data scientist £46,665
Project manager £41,808
Software engineer £41,100
Executive assistant £39,163
Business analyst £39,127
Accountant £36,171
Software developer £35,247
Mechanical engineer £33,765
Data analyst £30,323
Graphic designer £25,543

Profit per employee

As we all know, the workplace must bring in some cash to stay afloat. If you’re looking to start your own company, it might be worth thinking about what industry is the most profitable today in the UK.

During 2019, Real Estate Investment Trusts was the industry that made the most profit out of each employee, no less than £686,003. Oil & Gas Producers can also count on making a few pounds on everyone they hire, as the industry makes a profit of £462,199 per person in the office. On the other end of the spectrum, Industrial Transportation is the least profitable industry on the list, making £3,509 per employee, 165 times less than the Real Estate Investment Trusts industry.

Industry Number of employees Profit per employee
Real Estate Investment Trusts 1,729 686,003
Oil & Gas Producers 153,700 £462,199
Financial Services 20,769 £261,808
Mining 302,950 £198,964
Mobile Telecommunications 95,049 £154,236
Life Insurance 62,717 £151,252
Gas, Water & Multiutilities 67,764 £126,737
Household Goods & Home Construction 58,899 £114,170
Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology 182,606 £111,387
Electricity 20,786 £109,689
Beverages 59,478 £85,578
Personal Goods 170,701 £71,461
Fixed Line Telecommunications 105,800 £63,422
Chemicals 16,657 £62,484
Forestry & Paper 26,207 £61,816
Nonlife Insurance 33,140 £58,196
Health Care Equipment & Services 29,672 £55,013
Tobacco 94,393 £49,326
Construction & Materials 96,351 £40,927
Software & Computer Services 29,392 £40,403
Support Services 174,702 £40,103
Banks 530,442 £38,508
Electronic & Electrical Equipment 6,341 £38,032
Industrial Metals & Mining 70,186 £36,475
Media 243,605 £35,476
General Industrials 96,500 £27,741
Aerospace & Defense 133,200 £27,177
Travel & Leisure 846,446 £20,044
General Retailers 190,024 £15,902
Food Producers 133,000 £13,759
Food & Drug Retailers 680,144 £7,053
Industrial Transportation 161,851 £3,509

Which union you can join

Trade unions are very popular in certain industries and aim to look after the employees who join them. However, the numbers of people in trade unions has been steadily declining over the last few decades.

In 2018, just under a quarter (23.4%) of Brits reported being a member of a trade union in the UK. This is the lowest proportion of union participation recorded during the last 25 years. In 1995, 32.4% of Brits were in a union and 10 years ago (2010) 26.6% of UK workers were part of the trade union movement.

If you want to join a union, there are still many to choose from in the UK, covering a variety of professions. Search the list below to see which union covers the sector you work in.

Union Number of members Who it represents
UNISON: The Public Service Union 1,377,006 Those who provide public services in the public and private sector.
Unite the Union 1,310,508 General union representing workers across the country and all industrial sectors (also covers people who are out of work e.g. students, volunteers, retired people and people who are unemployed).
GMB 614,494 GMB members work in nearly all industrial sectors, in retail, security, schools, distribution, the utilities, social care, the NHS, ambulance service and local government.
Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom 454,142 Nurses.
Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers 433,260 Workers principally in retail, distribution and food manufacturing in the private sector.
National Union of Teachers 338,033 Teachers.
National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers 316,230 Teachers and school leaders.
Communication Workers Union 191,421 Post office and telecommunication workers.
Public and Commercial Services Union 181,063 Government departments and other public bodies.
British Medical Association 156,262 Doctors.
Association of Teachers and Lecturers 153,093 Teachers and lecturers.
Prospect 142,486 Engineers, scientists, managers and civil servants.
University and College Union 120,564 Students.

For all media enquiries, please contact

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806


  • ONS
  • YouGov
  • Glassdoor

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