The highest earning career paths in the UK


LaToya Harding
·ContributorSat, 6 February 2021, 11:42 am

The cockpit of a modern passenger aircraft in flight. A view from the cockpit to the skyscrapers of the business center of a huge city.
The data showed that pilots can earn as much as £1.1m ($1.5m) in the first 20 years of their career, with an average salary of £92,330 per year. Photo: Getty

Pilots earn the most out of any career in the UK, when accounting for debt and salaries, a new study has shown.

That’s according to Standout CV, which analysed Office for National Statistics (ONS) and recruitment industry data, looking into the careers that earn people the most in the first 20 years. It also took into account the personal costs of training, education and licence fees.

The data showed that pilots can earn as much as £1.1m ($1.5m) in the first 20 years of their career, with an average salary of £92,330 per year.

However, within the first 5 years of their career, the average pilot makes a net loss of £70,000 due to the cost of qualifications and other fees. Pilots suffer the largest outlay of any other career analysed.

The second-highest earning role over the course of 20 years is financial manager, earning those that follow it as a career choice as much as £1.1 million; with a net gain of £99,000 within the first 5 years.

This is due to the fact that a degree is not necessarily required to start a finance career. Many firms are now moving away from this requirement and instead offer vocational training on the job.

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Financial managers and PR directors were the two career paths most likely to reach a salary of £100,000 or more the quickest at 18 years.

Rounding off the top five earning careers, the analysis showed that PR directors amass £939,722 of earnings over 20 years, senior police officers will earn £916,279, and CEOs £807,722.

Whilst senior police officers are the tenth highest paid in the ONS analysis, with an average salary of £56,665, they earn the most in the first 10 years of their career due to a lack of training debt.

Out of the top jobs in Britain, chief executives have the second highest average salary at £85,239, but accumulate less in 20 years than pilots, financial managers, PR directors, and senior police officers.

Pilots suffer the largest outlay of any other career analysed. Chart: StandOutCV
Pilots suffer the largest outlay of any other career analysed. Chart: StandOutCV

The research found most chief executives start their career within graduate sales positions, with varying degrees of student debt and volatility of earnings through their career paths.

For medical professionals, those who become general practitioners (GPs) will earn more over 20 years than those who work in a hospital environment. GPs earn an average of £636,615 across 20 years whilst hospital doctors earn £592,105 over the same period.

However, the career with the second-highest costs is doctoring. Both general practitioners and hospital-based doctors have an average qualification cost of £80,556.

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Andrew Fennell, director and careers expert at Standout CV, said: “If you’re just starting or thinking about a new career, it’s important to consider the costs that could be involved in breaking into a new job market and career; be that through educational courses, professional training, or even licence fees, there are plenty of commitments you must understand before starting a new career.”

“As our study shows, many of the top-paying roles in the UK require high fees to be paid to get a foot in the door, which for many could be both a deterrent and worry for those from less privileged backgrounds.”