Jobs & Careers

5 highest paid jobs and degrees

As degrees get more and more expensive, is uni still worth the cost? Cash in on your investment with a high-flying career like these ones!Highest paid jobsDespite fees rising to £9,000+ per year and an increasingly tougher jobs market, government surveys still suggest that a degree can significantly enhance your lifetime earnings potential.

You can find out the average starting salary for your degree subject here, but for those of you attending university in order to really maximise your earning potential (aka get filthy rich!) we've done the research for you.

From the Office of National Statistic’s (ONS) Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), we found five of the highest paying jobs in the UK, and came up with some tips on the best degrees to study in order to get into each profession.

The figures measure annual gross salaries, without accounting for bonuses or other benefits – which would surely make these figures balloon were they included!

Of course, don’t expect to go straight into the upper end of the salary range on day one – but if you want to make it there someday, these career choices might be for you…

Can't wait to start earning your big bucks? Find out what the average starting salary is for your degree subject.

5 highest paid jobs in the UK

  1. Chief Executives and Senior Officials

    Facebook MarkAverage salary: £123,577
    Salary range: £41,875 – £142,686

    In the UK, Chief Executives may also be known as Managing Directors or CEOs, and are the highest ranking individuals within an organisation.

    You'll be happy to hear there are no stipulations for Chief Executives to hold any formal qualifications, and notably some of the world’s most famous CEOs such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson, dropped out of uni without attaining a degree!

    However, unless you follow in their footsteps and start your own company, you’ll find most organisations require their head honchos to be educated to at least an undergraduate degree level.

    Studying a business degree or similar is likely to set you in very good stead.

    Many CEOs have previously served on the board of directors and may have postgraduate or professional qualifications. Leadership skills and a thick skin are essential!

    Of course, unless you have that million-dollar idea it’s unlikely your salary will hit £123,577 any time soon.

  2. Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers

    pilotAverage salary: £86,915
    Salary range: £68,354 – £89,928

    Pilot salaries vary according to employer, experience and the type of aircraft they fly. Minimum entry qualifications required to train as a pilot are five GCSEs and two A-levels, although a degree may help you stand out against the competition.

    While it is now possible to gain a BA in Air Transport with Commercial Pilot Training, degrees that demonstrate you have a thorough understanding of maths and physics may also provide you with an advantage.

    An Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL) is a necessary prerequisite, and in order to retain their licence, pilots are required to pass certain exams every six months.

    A degree can therefore be a useful preparation for balancing studying around other commitments.

  3. Medical Practitioners

    doctorAverage salary: £78,386
    Salary range: £30,291 – £132,613

    All medical practitioners, from GPs to brain surgeons, require a medical degree before beginning training in their area of specialism.

    This involves at least five years at medical school, before completing a compulsory two year foundation training programme and then applying for training programmes in their speciality.

    For those who aspire to become a consultant, further specialist training is required; the intensity and length of training is reflected in the salaries of those who make it to the top of the profession.

    Be aware that competition for places on medical degree courses is fierce. Not only will you require high A-level grades in relevant subjects such as maths and sciences, but also work experience in a caring role.

    Doing your research and gaining the necessary experience is therefore essential before applying for a place on the degree course.

    Information on volunteering opportunities that provide pre-entry work experience can be found on the Do-it.

  4. Marketing and Sales Director

    how to dress at workAverage salary: £87,890
    Salary range: £44,654 – £110,010

    Sales and marketing is imperative to the success of many organisations; it doesn’t matter how good your product is if no one knows about it! However, marketing isn’t solely confined to the private sector – there are a diverse range of roles within the public sector and not-for profit organisations.

    As a marketing executive you could be involved in anything from promoting a new product to raising awareness of a charity.

    Like many sectors, marketing is highly competitive, with many employers preferring graduates with related degrees in marketing or business. Previous work experience is also an advantage, whether gained through internships, holiday jobs or placements.

    You can also find a whole host of great specialised online courses in Marketing that you can do for free – these will keep you up to date on the latest practices (marketing evolves pretty quickly) and will look great on your CV.

  5. IT and Telecommunications Directors

    let me process that for youAverage salary: £78,071
    Salary range: £42,471 – £84,306

    Another highly competitive field! While IT skills are essential, graduates with degrees in related subjects such as website programming and design, internet engineering or computer science may improve their chances.

    It is also advisable to gain as much work experience as possible while studying for your degree, so make use of your university careers service and apply for summer placements.

    If you’re already pretty talented, why not build up your portfolio earn some extra cash freelancing by designing websites for local companies, or volunteer to redesign the SU’s site for free.

    With technology constantly evolving, it is essential to stay up to date with developments. You may therefore be expected to undertake industry-supported continuous professional development (CPD) throughout your career, so expect plenty of reading to keep abreast of changes!

While the above salaries won't be available to recent graduates, don’t despair; a degree should still be seen as an investment in future earning potential.

While there may be no short cut to the top earning careers, a relevant degree and work experience can help you gain a foothold on the occupational ladder.

How far you climb is up to you – good luck!

In the meantime, find out what your starting salary is set to be once you finish uni and land your first graduate job.

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