Of course we all want job satisfaction, a happy work-life balance and maybe even a chance to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. But let’s be realistic for a moment, when it comes to the job front, most of us simply follow the money.
In April 2014 media gross weekly earnings for full time employees were £518, up just 0.1% from £517 in 2013. That’s the smallest annual growth since 1997, which is the first year that the Office of National Statistics’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings made the data available. So wages are growing at tooth decay rate right now, but as we all know the media is skewed by low-income jobs.
So if you’re shooting for the stars and want to bring home the big bucks, here are 10 jobs you might want to have a look at.
1. Chief Executive Officer
Average Salary: £107,703
Inevitably, the boss of any company is the one that will take home the biggest pay packet. But be prepared to serve your time.
Internet start-ups are the rare exception to the breed, but here the founder is often in the big chair anyway. The average age of a CEO in the UK, though, is 54. An economics degreee from OxBridge will help your cause, too, although 8% of male CEOs have no university degree so there is hope even if you didn’t follow the traditional path.
As to what’s required once you get into the workplace, it’s a combination of hard work, leadership, luck and a number of other intangibles that will take you to the top.
2. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
Average Salary: £90,146
Commercial pilots don’t need any kind of university training, A-Levels or HNDs are all that’s required to start the training, but then things get complicated. A Commercial Pilot’s Licence and Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence from a CAA-approved school are required and that means prospective pilots are racking up £100,000 in fees before they have even started.
That means that newly-qualified pilots often have to survive on £500 a month when they factor in repayments according to the British Airline Pilots Association, which means this glamorous job pays less than flipping burgers in real terms.
Stick with it, though, and the rewards are high. British Airways pilots with 20 years of experience can expect a £102,000 salary.
3. Marketing/Sales Directors
Average Salary: £82,962
Marketing has become the lifeblood of international business and those that work their way to the top can expect to be well compensated for their efforts.
Degrees in marketing are commonplace and many start in marketing with no university degree, so the barriers to entry are low.
Men are still likely to occupy the top positions, but 75% of marketing staff are women.
Entry level salaries tend to be reasonable, around the £20,000 mark, but the cream rises fast and the demand for quality marketing staff far outstrips supply.
4. Information Technology and Telecommunications Director
Average Salary: £80,215
Technology has reshaped the way we do business and the IT professionals have gone from the fringe players who made sure the office computers ran smooth to lynchpins of global corporations.
The top technical staff are paid accordingly and there is an increasing number of jobs opening up with top salaries to the top IT professionals.
Thanks to the nature of the business, you don’t need decades of experience to progress in the technology sector and Chief Technical Officers and IT bosses are often younger. There are few barriers to entry, with courses increasingly tailored to the information age at universities and other secondary education establishments throughout the world. In IT, more than other areas, ongoing training is essential as the leading lights must ‘stay current’.
The entry level salaries can often be attractive, especially compared to others on this list, even the most mundane position commanding salaries of £30,000.
5. Financial Institution Directors
Average salary: £78, 782
You might immediately think of high street banks, but there are a wealth of financial institutions in need of a director. From smaller companies that specialise in loaning to third world nations to payday and logbook loan companies that don’t enjoy the same stellar reputation, there are more institutions than you can possibly imagine.
A background in banking or finance is a near pre-requisite, so follow the same path in terms of an economics degree, a Masters in business or economics won’t hurt either. Of course you can work your way up from the post room floor, but it’s a much harder path.
6. Public Relations Directors
Average salary: £77, 619
A company’s public image can mean the difference between success and failure, particularly in time of crisis. This is when the Public Relations Director earns their keep and shows just why they’re worth a monumental salary.
Public relations is an all-encompassing role and covers everything from the content and blogs that the company puts out to liaising with the media and ensuring a consistent tone of voice and brand message. Public Relations and Marketing inevitably cross over, but the PR Director is the one that has to face down the cynical media.
A background in journalism used to be a pre-requisite, but now many executives study PR or even Law and then go straight in at the bottom rung, working their way up to director level. A keen eye for branding, good written skills and the elusive people skills.
7. Financial Managers and Directors
Average Salary: £76,320
Always follow the money, so the saying goes, and it’s no big surprise that there’s space on the list for yet another group of financiers, Chief Financial Officers and financial directors.
A background in accountancy will help when climbing the ranks and a CFO in a major company will be required to sit accountancy exams in any case. It also helps to have a solid overview, as the CFO is responsible for budgeting, but also plays a major part in the day-to-day running of the company.
Start out with a degree in Accountancy, Economics or even Law if you want the best chance of progressing to CFO level, but once you’ve done that there are no real hard and fast rules of how to get to the top.
8. Air Traffic Controller
Average salary: £75, 416
Everybody knows about bankers and directors making the big money, but Air Traffic Controller is perhaps the biggest surprise on the list. Of course it’s a high-stress job and the consequences of getting it wrong don’t bear thinking about, so it makes sense that it’s well paid.
But with starting salaries of more than £54,000, Air Traffic Controllers might just be the plum job for 2014.
The training course, at NATS, can take up to a year, and just 1% of applicants are accepted. The basic requirements, though, are just 5 GCSEs, so technically one of the highest paid jobs in the country is available to a school leaver unburdened by student debt.
9. Rail engineer
Average salary: £74,402
Playing with train sets might be a national hobby, but for those tasked with keeping the country running, the rewards are high.
Of course the higher paid positions, which can reach up to £98,507 for engineering chiefs, are largely concerned with infrastructure and oversight. But there are a raft of jobs for general engineers ensuring the lines run smooth and faults are dealt with.
An MSc or Bsc in Engineering is pretty much the bare minimum and advanced positions mean further education and qualification as a Chartered Engineer. The rewards, though, are substantial.
10. Company Lawyers
Average salary: £73,425
The legal profession may come in for its fair share of abuse, but without lawyers and associated legal professionals then we’d all be in trouble. We all know that lawyers are well paid, too, and legal executives specialising in conveyancing, criminal law or a number of other branches of law can make well beyond the average salary quoted here.
The starting salary isn’t quite so dramatic as some might think, with a job with the ‘Magic Circle’ of give lawyers yielding a wage of just £15,000, intense competition for the job and long hours.
Those that prove themselves and climb the ladder, though, and those that go on to form their own companies, can make an exceptionally good living from the law. Corporate lawyers, though, the legal eagles now safely ensconced in every major corporation that deal with contracts, litigation and copyrights, are the ones that have the highest average salary.
Surely you are feeling very motivated at this point. May we interest you with a new job?