What is the Average UK Salary?

The UK's biggest salary study | StandOut CV
 
Andrew Fennell photo Andrew Fennell | Updated April 2021

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.

 

Contents

 

Average salary UK summary

 

Key Statistics for UK Salaries

  • As of Q1 2021, the average salary for the UK is £26,193 an increase of 1.6% from 2020
  • Average pay for employees increased 4.8% from November 2020 – January 2021
  • In 2020, the average UK wage increased by 3.4% to £25,780, this includes all forms of employment type.
  • The average full-time salary in the UK also grew to £31,461 per year, a 3.42% increase when compared to 2019.
  • Latest Government data reveals part-time workers in the UK earn on average £11,234 a year, a 6.1% increase from 2019’s figures.
  • Full-time salaried males earn 21.2% more than their female counterparts, which averages at £5,942 less each year.
  • Men in the legal professions take home more than £32,000 more than their female co-workers, the largest sector difference.
  • Those aged between 40 and 49 earn the most of any age group in full-time work, averaging at £35,904.
  • Men over the age of 60 earn 32.5% more than their female counterparts, averaging an extra £7,764 each year.
  • Graduate age groups have a gender wage gap of 10% in favour of men, averaging a difference of £2,480 each year.

 

Average UK Salary 2020 – 2021

According to the ONS, the average salary in the UK in 2020 is £25,780, an increase of 3.4% compared to figures released in 2019. A Q1 analysis from the ONS, shows that there was a 1.6% increase in average pay compared to 2020, meaning the current average salary is £26,193.

The latest complete earnings analysis (2020) 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 £31,461 per year (3.57% increase YoY); while part-time workers in the UK earn an average of £11,234 a year (9.66% increase YoY).

Average UK salary graph

 

 

Which jobs pay the most in the UK?

According to the latest Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) report, by the ONS, Aircraft pilots and flight engineers were the highest-paid workers in the UK, earning an average salary of £92,330.

 

Job title 2020/2021 Salary YoY Change
Aircraft pilots and flight engineers £92,330 17.5%
CEOs £85,239 -12.5%
Marketing and sales directors £80,759 0.5%
Legal professionals £77,212 4.5%
Information technology and telecommunications directors £69,814 1.2%
Financial managers and directors £67,114 1.1%
Advertising and public relations directors £63,362 N/A
Functional managers and directors £62,330 -0.5%
Medical practitioners £62,219 -13.6%
Senior police officers £56,665 -3.6%

 

In a change from previous years and reflecting the changes to earnings through 2020, CEOs have seen a 12.5% reduction in their average pay; earning an average of £85,239 in 2020.

 

Average CEO salary UK

 

Which jobs in the UK have the lowest salary?

In the financial year ending April 2020, playworkers were found to have the lowest full-time earnings in the UK, taking home £15,395 per year, after a 12.3% (£2,153) reduction in the average pay of playworkers.

 

Job title 2020 Salary YoY Change
Playworkers £15,394 -12.3%
Cooks £16,964 0.7%
Launderers, dry cleaners and pressers £17,145 6.8%
Educational support assistants £17,212 6.1%
Hairdressers and barbers £17,223 5.7%
Pharmacy and other dispensing assistants £17,388 -0.4%
Kitchen and catering assistants £17,437 4.3%
Shelf fillers £17,538 -4.3%
Elementary sales occupations £17,629 -2.9%
Waiters and waitresses £17,633 5.3%

 

Concerningly, many of the occupations in the lower end of the earning scale, according to the ONS, are in industries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, new government guidance and lockdowns.

 

Which jobs have seen the highest growth change in earnings?

Average full time earnings change UK

 

At the end of the 2019/2020 financial year, the average earnings in the UK had risen by 3.38%, with earnings from full-time roles rising by 3.6%, while part-time role earnings have increased by 6.1%.

 

Highest earnings growth in 2020:

Job title 2020 Salary YoY Change
Publicans and bar managers £40,409 44.2%
Elementary security occupations £25,810 18.9%
Journalists & newspaper editors £40,396 18.6%
Aircraft pilots and flight engineers £92,330 17.5%
Ship and hovercraft officers £53,705 17.3%
Bar staff £18,911 16.7%
Welfare professionals £35,453 14.0%
Paper and wood machine operatives £24,469 13.1%
Floorers and wall tilers £27,780 11.3%
Vehicle paint technicians £29,908 11.2%

 

Highest earnings decline in 2020:

Job title 2020 Salary YoY Change
Boat & ship builders and repairers £24,420 -26.7%
Upholsterers £19,629 -19.0%
TV, video and audio engineers £27,622 -16.7%
Elementary administration occupations £22,420 -16.6%
Arts officers, producers & directors £33,127 -13.8%
Medical practitioners £62,219 -13.6%
Officers of non-governmental organisations £24,346 -13.1%
CEOs £85,239 -12.5%
Playworkers £15,394 -12.3%
Postal workers & couriers £24,028 -12.0%

 

Highest paying cities in the UK

The ten cities in the UK where residents earn the highest average weekly wage (not including large towns).

City Average weekly earnings
London £824.00
Derby £779.10
Oxford £678.00
Cambridge £658.30
Edinburgh £655.30
Southampton £634.50
Aberdeen £628.60
Glasgow £626.40
Bristol £612.80
Salford £611.90

 

UK Gender Pay Gap by Industry

The latest ONS data reveals that the average male full-time workers in the UK earn 21.2% more than their female counterparts; the biggest earnings gap being found in Health associate professional roles, where males earn 54.5% more than female workers.

In financial terms, a male worker in the UK earned (on average) £5,942 more than their female co-workers in the 2019/2020 financial year.

In financial terms, on average, male full-time workers earn £33,923 per year whilst females earn just £27,981 a year – £3,480 less than the UK average full-time earnings.

 

Gender pay gap in full-time salary since 2016

Gender pay gap UK

 

 

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

Job Title Difference Male Female
Health associate professionals 54.5% £39,149 £25,340
Construction and building trades supervisors 51.8% £39,169 £25,801
Mobile machine drivers 51.8% £30,616 £20,173
Chemical and related process operatives 51.6% £30,682 £20,236
Metalworking production and maintenance fitters 51.5% £33,203 £21,917
Legal professionals 51.4% £95,598 £63,134
Painters and decorators 49.9% £25,920 £17,291
Leisure and sports managers 47.5% £36,225 £24,562
Vehicles/metal goods assemblers 45.9% £32,492 £22,266
Metal machining, fitting and instrument making trades 45.4% £32,386 £22,275

 

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

In ‘real terms’ men in legal professions make £32,464 more on average than women, whilst male financial managers and CEOs make (on average) more than £22,000 and £21,000 a year more respectively than their female counterparts.

 

The highest-paying jobs where men earn more than women:

Job Title Pay Gap (Men vs Women)
Legal professionals £32,464
Financial managers and directors £22,756
CEOs £21,277
Functional managers and directors £18,384
Medical practitioners £17,478
Financial institution managers and directors £16,856
Functional managers and directors £16,438
Health associate professionals £13,809
Rail transport operatives £13,391
Financial accounts managers £13,381

 

Which roles see women earn more than their male counterparts?

Just 35 of the over 490 roles analysed each year by the ONS were found to have women earning more than males, with female counsellors earning 19% more than their male counterparts.

 

Job Title Difference Male Female
Counsellors -19.0% £21,662 £26,736
Conservation and environmental associate professionals -14.9% £20,666 £24,277
Sports coaches, instructors and officials -14.8% £21,807 £25,586
Social and humanities scientists -12.6% £29,324 £33,535
Welfare professionals -10.1% £31,626 £35,161
Careers advisers and vocational guidance specialists -10.0% £25,992 £28,878
Bar staff -9.7% £17,971 £19,905
Personal assistants and other secretaries -9.6% £25,676 £28,413
Hairdressing and beauty salon managers and proprietors -7.8% £21,768 £23,621
Pharmaceutical technicians -5.9% £21,763 £23,135

 

In financial terms, female counsellors earned just over £5,000 more than male counsellors in 2020, followed by social and humanities officials (£4,211).

 

Job Title Pay Gap (Women vs Men)
Counsellors £5,074
Social and humanities scientists £4,211
Sports coaches, instructors and officials £3,779
Conservation and environmental associate professionals £3,611
Welfare professionals £3,535
Careers advisers and vocational guidance specialists £2,886
Personal assistants and other secretaries £2,737
Bar staff £1,934
Hairdressing and beauty salon managers and proprietors £1,853
Taxation experts £1,727

 

Highest earning professions in the UK by gender

Male Female
Occupation Avg Pay Occupation Avg Pay
Legal professionals £95,598 1 CEOs £73,046
CEOs £94,323 2 Marketing and sales directors £73,035
Marketing and sales directors £84,170 3 Legal professionals £63,134
Financial managers and directors £75,289 4 Senior police officers £55,022
Medical practitioners £71,460 5 Train and tram drivers £54,906
Functional managers and directors £70,403 6 Medical practitioners £53,982
Senior professionals of educational establishments £63,260 7 Senior professionals of educational establishments £52,971
Financial institution managers and directors £59,023 8 Financial managers and directors £52,533
Senior police officers £56,727 9 Functional managers and directors £52,019
Train and tram drivers £56,470 10 Senior officers in protective services £51,996

 

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 at the same time your expectations probably follow suit.

This is evident in recent data releases which found 40-49-year-olds to be highest earners in the UK, with those below the age bracket “working their way up” and those older seeing reduced numbers as people begin to take early retirement.

UK average salary by age

 

Those aged between the ages of 40 and 49 are the highest paid in the UK earning an average of £35,904 per year – £4,443 more than UK average earnings.

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 little over £26,000 per year.

 

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 60+ bracket, where men earn 32.5% more than women.

For the younger age groups, males between the ages of 18 and 21 earn 3.5% more than their female counterparts, whilst the graduate age group (22-29) see a 10% difference between male and female pay.

 

Age Avg £ Difference  Male Female
All £5,942 £33,923 £27,981
18-21 £616 £18,447 £17,831
22-29 £2,480 £27,220 £24,740
30-39 £4,309 £34,567 £30,258
40-49 £7,426 £38,829 £31,403
50-59 £8,427 £36,983 £28,556
60+ £7,764 £31,667 £23,903

 

 

Methodology:

Data was sourced and analysed from the latest 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.

2021 figures were analysed from Average weekly earnings in Great Britain: March 2021 to provide a percentage increase of 2020 figures and any added insight on sectors and regions.