What is the Average UK Salary?

The UK's biggest salary study | StandOut CV
 
Andrew Fennell photo Andrew Fennell | Updated Jan 2022

As Brits, we rarely talk about salaries and how much we earn. This means many of us don’t have a clue if we’re earning above or below the average salary in the UK. We wanted to change that, so we’ve taken all of the available data the Government would let us have and analysed everything to find out what the average wage is across the country.

Our analysis will let you know if you’re getting a good deal or not.

It can also be useful in salary negotiations or making sure a job description is legitimate and fair. Below you’ll find statistics on the average UK salary per gender, age, industry, and how these have changed over the years.

 

 

Key Statistics for UK Salaries

  • In 2021, the average salary for the UK was £25,971 an increase of 0.3% compared to 2020.
  • Separate HMRC data shows that the average UK salary at the start of 2022 was £24,600, a 6.3% increase YoY (Jan vs Jan).
  • The average full-time salary in the UK fell 0.6% to £31,285 in 2021 when compared to 2020.
  • The average full-time salary in the UK fell 0.6% to £31,285 in 2021
  • Latest Government data reveals part-time workers in the UK earn on average £11,310 a year, a 0.6% increase from 2020’s figures (including gig economy workers)
  • Full-time employed males are paid 18.05% more than their female counterparts, averaging £5,109 each year.
  • Average male CEOs make £24,999 more than female CEOs each year, the largest financial discrepancy across all occupations.
  • Pub owners and managers saw the biggest percentage decrease in earnings in 2021 at 34.2%.
  • Those aged between 40 and 49 earn the most of any age group in full-time work, averaging £35,757
  • Men aged 50-59 earn 24.95% more than their female counterparts, averaging an extra £7,189 each year.
  • Graduate age groups have a gender wage gap of 6.93% in favour of men, averaging a difference of £1,741 each year.

 

 

Average UK salary in 2022

Looking at data just from January 2022, which is compiled by the HMRC and ONS, we can see that the average salary is estimated at £24,600. This was a 6.3% increase compared to January 2021, but evidently approximately 5.3% lower than 2021’s overall average.

This is largely due to the ONS’ 2021 dataset being different from the HMRC 2022 data, as they have different sampling methods. However, the start of 2022 being 6.3% higher for PAYE employees is expected to mean the year’s average salary will eventually be higher than 2021.

In terms of year-on-year salary growth, the highest month was last seen in April 2021 where salaried employees earned 10% more compared to April 2020.

In January 2022, finance and insurance roles had the highest average salary of any industry (£39,936), followed by those in information and communication roles (£38,868). The former industry saw a 7.6% increase YoY in earnings growth, while the latter had an increase of 7.2%.

Overall, professional, scientific and technical jobs saw a 7.8% earnings increase to £31,032, the highest of any named industry in the UK.

 

Average UK Salary 2021 – 2022

According to the ONS, the average salary in the UK for the entirety 2021 was £25,971, an increase of 0.3% compared to figures released in 2020 (£25,893)

Importantly, the ONS state that the 2021 data was impacted by the Government’s furlough scheme and other pandemic disruptions which led to an inflated growth. Regardless, this is the most comprehensive analysis of the average salaries of employees in the UK currently.

The latest complete earnings analysis (2021) from the ONS shows that for full-time workers, the average earnings are even higher, with the UK’s average full-time wage now standing at £31,285, a 0.6% decrease YoY, while part-time workers in the UK earn an average of £11,310, a 0.6% increase YoY.

 

Average salary UK

 

Which jobs pay the most in the UK?

According to the latest Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) report, by the ONS, CEOs were the highest-average-earners with an annual salary of £81,102. In 2020, CEOs were in second place behind aircraft pilots and flight engineers (£92,330). The ONS understandably did not hold enough data to provide salary information for this profession in 2021 due to the pandemic.

 

Highest Paying Jobs in the UK in 2021

Job Title 2021 Salary YoY Change
CEOs £81,102 1.8%
Marketing and sales directors £69,779 -5.0%
Legal professionals £69,514 2.6%
Train and tram drivers £59,189 6.6%
Advertising and public relations directors £58,948 -1.2%
Senior police officers £58,734 5.8%
Senior professionals of educational establishments £58,268 3.5%
Financial managers and directors £58,028 -2.8%
Medical practitioners £56,869 3.7%
Senior officers in protective services £56,135 4.6%

 

When compared to 2020’s top earners, IT and Telecoms Directors have suffered a 25.9% drop in average annual pay from 2020 to 2021 (£51,637). Senior officers in protective services (fire services, police forces, armed forces, paramedics, and waste management) are a new addition to the top ten highest-earning jobs in the UK thanks to a 4.6% annual pay increase into 2021.

 

 

Average CEO salary in the UK

As one of the consistently high-earning jobs in the UK, we also analysed CEO’s average salaries over time. Receiving a 1.8% increase in annual salary from 2020-2021, CEOs had a salary increase six times higher than the average salary increase in the country.

Despite being the highest earners in the country, CEOs have seen a 16.8% decrease in average salary from 2019 (£97,467) to 2021 (£81,102).

 

Average CEO salary UK

 

Which jobs in the UK have the lowest average salary?

In the financial year ending April 2021, playworkers were found to have the lowest full-time earnings in the UK, taking home £14,345 per year, taking a 6.8% reduction in salary since 2020.

Second to playworkers and beauticians (and similar occupations) were found to be the second-lowest paid jobs in the country at £15,210, which was 19.6% less than in 2020.

 

Description Median Annual change
Playworkers £14,345 -6.8%
Beauticians and related occupations £15,210 -19.6%
Hairdressers and related services £15,357 -14.3%
Bar staff £15,896 -12.4%
Waiters and waitresses £16,146 -7.3%
Leisure and theme park attendants £16,194 0
Kitchen and catering assistants £16,254 -6.3%
Smiths and forge workers £16,519 0
Educational support assistants £16,721 -2.9%
Launderers, dry cleaners and pressers £17,295 -0.6%

 

Of the lowest-paid roles, the following were also in the list of ten lowest-paid roles in the UK in 2020: playworkers, launderers, educational support assistants, hairdressers, kitchen assistants, and waiter/waitresses.

 

“In 2020, playworkers had a 12.3% decline in average earnings, and 2021 saw that decrease further by 6.8%.”

 

According to the full data from the ONS, ‘Other elementary services occupations’ is technically the 8th lowest paid job in the country at £16,314. It is not included in this table as it is too broad a category, it could include the following jobs to provide but a few examples: luggage assistants, fortune tellers, bingo callers, adult dancers. Where a YoY change is not stated is due to the ONS not having historic data available on this specific role.

 

Which jobs have seen the highest growth change in earnings?

Average full time earnings change

 

At the end of the 2020/2021 financial year, the average full-time earnings in the UK had fallen by 0.6%, while part-time role salaries had increased by 0.6%. From 2019 to 2020, the average full-time salary had increased by 3.57%, and from 2018 to 2019, this increased by 2.69%. The sudden change in salary growth is evidently due to the pandemic, but its full impact won’t be known until 2022/2023 at the earliest.

 

Jobs with the highest earnings growth in 2021

Based on full-time earnings data from 2020-2021 we can see the following roles had the highest percentage increase in their average salaries. The biggest salary jump for full-time employees was found in those who work in importing and exporting goods, likely impacted by Brexit making the role more complex, and skilled, than ever.

 

Job Title 2021 Salary YoY Change
Importers and exporters £34,550 27.8%
Probation officers £37,374 21.7%
Elementary sales occupations £21,319 21%
Elementary administration occupations £27,123 20.7%
Agricultural machinery drivers £31,180 15.8%
Postal workers, mail sorters, messengers and couriers £27,665 15.2%
Horticultural trades £23,273 14.1%
Fishmongers and poultry dressers £20,564 14%
Telephonists £22,703 13.4%
Agricultural and fishing trades £25,469 13%

 

Jobs with the highest earnings decline in 2021

“Pub owners and managers had the highest earnings growth in 2020 (44.2%) but in 2021 suffered the highest earnings decline (34.2%).”

After a huge year of growth in 2020, in 2021, publicans, and pub managers, actually saw the highest earnings decline, which is understandable due to the various pandemic lockdowns preventing them from earning. In fact, most of the top ten jobs to have their salaries reduced in 2021, can be seen to be affected by the pandemic heavily.

 

Job Title 2021 Salary YoY Change
Publicans and managers of licensed premises £26,587 -34.2%
Leisure and travel service occupations £20,774 -20.6%
Beauticians and related occupations £15,210 -19.6%
Air travel assistants £20,873 -19.1%
Financial institution managers and directors £45,351 -16.3%
Elementary security occupations
(Serving summons, security for establishments, etc.)
£21,300 -15.8%
Transport associate professionals £57,575 -15.4%
Travel agents £21,050 -14.8%
Hairdressers and related services £15,357 -14.3%
Hotel and accommodation managers and proprietors £27,946 -12.7%

 

 

UK Gender Pay Gap 2021

The latest ONS data reveals that the average male full-time workers in the UK earn 18.05% more than their female counterparts.

 

2021 Gender Pay Gap Full-time Full-time difference  Part-time Part-time difference
Male £33,414 18.05% £11,079 2.7%
Female £28,305 £11,380

 

In financial terms, a male worker in the UK earned (on average) £5,109 more than their female co-workers in the 2020/2021 financial year. This also means that the average female full-time worker earns £2,980 less than the average full-time employee across the country.

 

Gender pay gap in full-time salary since 2016

In the below chart you can see the year-by-year play of how the gender pay gap in the UK has developed over time. This data is based on full-time earnings from the ONS.

 

Men VS women salary UK

 

Which roles have the biggest gender wage gap in 2020 – 2021?

The latest data shows that in seven of the largest wage gap professions males earn 50% or more than their female counterparts. Meaning, men in these roles earn the same average wage as their female full-time counterparts in roughly 6 (or less) months.

In ‘real terms’ men who work as quantity surveyors earn an average of £15,419 more than their female counterparts, while in the mining and energy industry, men working as production managers or directors earn an average of £15,226 extra a year than women in the same job.

 

Job Title Difference Male Female
Assemblers (vehicles and metal goods) 60.62% £31,126 £19,379
Mobile machine drivers 60.06% £30,438 £19,017
IT engineers 57.47% £30,926 £19,639
Chemical and related process operatives 55.09% £32,010 £20,639
Construction operatives 51.06% £25,851 £17,113
Production managers/directors (mining & energy) 50.96% £45,103 £29,877
Textile process operatives 50.55% £26,772 £17,783
Construction operatives 49.08% £28,675 £19,234
Quantity surveyors 48.69% £47,089 £31,670
Mobile machine drivers and operatives 46.78% £29,288 £19,954

 

In 2020, the story was similar, with mobile machine drivers and vehicle assemblers both featuring in the top ten for the largest gender pay gap discrepancy.

 

The highest-paying jobs where men earn more than women

CEOs have the highest gender pay gap in the country when sorting by pounds not earned at £24,999, followed by financial managers/directors (£22,287), and functional managers/directors (£16,574).

 

Job Title Gender Pay Gap (in favour of men) Male Pay Female Pay
Chief executives and senior officials £24,999 £100,000 £75,001
Financial managers and directors £22,287 £73,570 £51,283
Functional managers and directors £16,574 £67,676 £51,102
Quantity surveyors £15,419 £47,089 £31,670
Production managers/directors (mining and energy) £15,226 £45,103 £29,877
Medical practitioners £12,815 £71,711 £58,896
Financial accounts managers £12,388 £46,258 £33,870
Insurance underwriters £12,240 £43,488 £31,248
Assemblers (vehicles and metal goods) £11,747 £31,126 £19,379
Mobile machine drivers and operatives £11,421 £30,438 £19,017

 

Which roles see women earn more than their male counterparts?

Only 44 of the 494 roles analysed by the ONS were found to have women earning more than men on average in the same roles. The highest percentage difference was seen in welfare professionals, for example, people who advise families experiencing a crisis, mental health counsellors, or those that provide rehabilitation services.

 

Job title Gender Pay Gap (in favour of women) Male Pay Female Pay
Welfare professionals 23.68% £26,815 £35,133
Sports coaches, instructors and officials 16.38% £21,335 £25,514
Elementary sales occupations 15.27% £18,726 £22,102
Telephone salespersons 14.52% £18,857 £22,060
Archivists and curators 13.37% £25,722 £29,691
Therapy professionals 11.75% £31,410 £35,591
Ambulance staff (excluding paramedics) 9.94% £25,841 £28,692
Hotel and accommodation managers and proprietors 9.34% £25,612 £28,252
Merchandisers and window dressers 8.90% £21,114 £23,177
Public relations professionals 8.77% £28,992 £31,780

Jobs where women earn more than men (£)

Comparing the percentage difference and the actual financial difference shows a very similar picture with welfare professionals at the top once more, however there is one role that comes into the top ten: IT directors.

Male IT directors make an average of £62,527, however female IT directors make £2,663 more each year at £65,190. This trend is new for 2021 and unlike some of the roles in this list like welfare and PR, which are traditionally staffed with more women, the tech industry is currently estimated to be made up of only 31% women.

 

Job Title Gender Pay Gap (in favour of women) Male Pay Female Pay
Welfare professionals £8,318 £26,815 £35,133
Therapy professionals £4,181 £31,410 £35,591
Sports coaches, instructors and officials £4,179 £21,335 £25,514
Archivists and curators £3,969 £25,722 £29,691
Elementary sales occupations £3,376 £18,726 £22,102
Telephone salespersons £3,203 £18,857 £22,060
Arts officers, producers and directors £2,948 £34,718 £37,666
Ambulance staff (excluding paramedics) £2,851 £25,841 £28,692
Public relations professionals £2,788 £28,992 £31,780
Information technology and telecommunications directors £2,663 £62,527 £65,190

 

Due to limited data published by the ONS, there may be some roles where women/men earn very high salaries but the male/female data was not published to be able to provide a comparison. You can, however, see the highest-earning professions for men and women below.

 

Highest earning professions in the UK by gender

Below you can see the highest-earning professions for both males and females in the UK.

 

Male Female
Job title Average Pay Job title Average Pay
CEOs £100,000 1 CEOs £75,001
Legal professionals £79,421 2 Marketing and sales directors £70,265
Aircraft pilots and flight engineers £77,214 3 Legal professionals £68,606
Marketing and sales directors £76,445 4 IT and Telecomms Directors £65,190
Financial managers and directors £73,570 5 Advertising and PR directors £64,365
Medical practitioners £71,711 6 Medical practitioners £58,896
Transport associate professionals £68,255 7 Train and tram drivers £58,096
Functional managers and directors £67,676 8 Senior police officers £55,566
Senior professionals of educational establishments £63,606 9 Senior professionals of educational establishments £54,556
IT and Telecomms Directors £62,527 10 Senior officers in protective services £54,422

 

Average UK Salary by Age

As you age and spend more time in an industry, accruing more and more experience in your career, your value to employers naturally increases, and at the same time your expectations probably follow suit.

This is evident in 2021 data which shows how 40-49-year-olds are the highest earners in the UK (£35,757) with those below the age bracket “working their way up” and those older seeing reduced numbers as people begin to take early retirement. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of the average UK salary by age.

 

Average salary by age UK

 

In comparison, those aged under 21 and in full-time work earn almost half that of 40-49-year-olds, making just over £18,000 a year; while those between 22 and 29 earn an average of a little over £26,000 per year. Interestingly, these figures remained largely unchanged from 2020, with those aged 22-29 earning the same in 2021 as they did in 2020.

 

Age Average Salary YoY Change
18-21 £18,010 0.9%
22-29 £26,019 0.0%
30-39 £32,793 -0.6%
40-49 £35,757 -0.2%
50-59 £33,000 -1.0%
60+ £28,945 0.3%

 

Age and the gender pay gap in the UK

Across all the age groups male workers make more than their female counterparts, with the highest percentage difference found in the 50-59 bracket, where men earn 24.95% more than women.

For the younger age groups, males between the ages of 18 and 21 earn 8.16% more than their female counterparts. This same comparison showed a smaller 3.5% gender pay gap in this age group in 2020.

The graduate age group (22-29) sees a 6.93% difference between male and female pay, down from a 10% difference in 2020.

 

Age Men Women Percentage Difference Average Pay Difference
18-21 £18,392 £17,005 8.16% £1,387
22-29 £26,856 £25,115 6.93% £1,741
30-39 £34,210 £30,540 12.02% £3,670
40-49 £38,463 £31,679 21.41% £6,784
50-59 £36,000 £28,811 24.95% £7,189
60+ £30,944 £24,850 24.52% £6,094

 

Methodology:

Data was sourced and analysed from the latest (end of 2021) Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Data was sorted and where duplicates or similar descriptions were used for roles, the highest value was retained and used in the analysis. Job titles were amended by our analysts compared when reviewing the ONS data to ensure clarity and consistency across our data.

2022 figures were analysed from the ONS Earnings and employment report released in February 2022. This reveals January 2022 vs January 2021 figures and does not represent entire 2021 averages. Despite being collated by the ONS, it analyses data from HMRC, therefore cannot be directly compared to the above ASHE data.