Top 5 Jobs in 2014

Ever wondered which are the best paid jobs in the UK and what it is like to have one of them? The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2014, so we have taken a look at what you need to land one of the top 10 jobs, and asked people who do them to tell us about the best and worst bits of their working lives.

The survey shows the average (mean) salary of a sample of employed workers who carry out these occupations. The data is taken from their PAYE record – it includes bonuses, but the figures do not cover the self-employed or celebrities who don’t appear on company payrolls.

So, which job attracts the highest pay, which is the most fun, and which, in the words of its spokesman, means you’re seen by colleagues as a “pain in the backside”?

1. Head of a company or organisation

Includes: CEOs and presidents leading organisations of more than 500 people

Average pay before tax: £107,703

Pay range: £25,953 (10th percentile) to £136,779 (80th percentile). Median is £75,237.

Annual change: -8.4%

Best part of the job: Telling everyone else what to do, obviously. Or, as Michael Bruce, the CEO of online estate agent Purplebricks.com, puts it: “Inspiring people to realise their potential.”

Worst part of the job: “Too many meetings,” says John Styring, the CEO of Igloo Books. “Unnecessary admin,” says Neil Everatt, the CEO of the business software company Software Europe. “Making tough decisions,” says Bruce.

How to get there: “Typical requirements are an MBA, 30 years of experience and/or advantageous family connections,” says Sam Cropper, the CEO of Climatecars, an eco-friendly taxi company. “But all I had, when I became CEO at the age of 29, was a drive for progression and a positive outlook on life.” Everatt agrees: “Qualifications are not important – it’s all about experience and attitude.”

2. Aircraft pilots

Includes: Flight engineers and flying instructors

Average pay before tax: £90,146

Pay range: £66,178 (25th percentile) to £97,598 (60th percentile). Median is £90,534.

Annual change: +12.5%

Best part of the job: Getting paid to have your head in the clouds. “Whatever the weather is like on the ground, it’s always fantastic above the ground – and not many people in the world get to see the view that we do,” says Iain Edwards, a Monarch Airlines pilot.

Worst part of the job: Safety checks in all weathers. “It not fun having to do a pre-flight aircraft walk-around check when it’s blowing a gale and tipping with rain,” says Edwards.

How to get there: Learn to fly a commercial aircraft. That means being accepted on to a training course. “The basic entry criteria for our programme is a minimum of five GCSEs, and fluency in English,” says Karen Bath, spokeswoman for pilot training school CTC Aviation. Training to be a pilot is, however, very expensive – the British Airline Pilots Association says it can cost £100,000 and starting salaries can be less than £23,000.

3. Marketing directors

Includes: Sales directors

Average pay before tax: £82,962

Pay range: £16,959 (10th percentile) to £103,871 (80th percentile). Median is £66,452.

Annual change: -2.4%

Best part of the job: Launching new things. “That’s when everything comes together – innovation, customer insight, creativity, communications and sales – and you get to demonstrate how these different elements work together, to create value and growth for a business,” says Gemma Greaves, MD of the Marketing Society, a networking club for marketing directors.

Worst part of the job: Balancing what everyone in the company wants. “Juggling multiple stakeholders who all have strong and different opinions on what marketing should or shouldn’t be doing is the worst task,” says Dan Roche, marketing director for IT and telecoms firm Olive Communications.

How to get there: Most marketing directors have degrees, but these don’t have to be in marketing or business. Many start off as graduate trainees at a large company and learn on the job.

4. Information technology directors

Includes: Telecommunications directors and CIOs

Average pay before tax: £80,215

Pay range: £24,266 (10th percentile) to £83,023 (75th percentile). Median is £61,423.

Annual change: +23.7%

Best part of the job: Seeing a firm’s use of IT make a difference to its standing. “Successful IT directors help a business to understand how IT can be a differentiator for the organisation, and used to increase market share,” says Ewen Ferguson, the director at IT consultancy Protiviti.

Worst part of the job: Dealing with colleagues who don’t understand IT. “IT leaders get beaten up when things don’t work but often can’t secure budget that would prevent the incidents from occurring. For many IT leaders, it feels like a losing battle,” says Ferguson.

How to get there: “The larger roles will typically require a combination of experience and a relevant degree,” says Jos Creese, president of BCS, the Chartered Institute of IT. “Often an MBA is helpful.”

5. Financial institution directors

Includes: Heads of banks and building societies

Average pay before tax: £78,782

Pay range: £24,255 (10th percentile) to £102,749 (80th percentile). Median is £50,032.

Annual change: +7.2%

Best part of the job: Having the power to change the world – albeit by lending money to people. “I love to see the positive impact the huge variety of organisations we work with are having on people and the world around them,” says Charles Middleton, the MD of Triodos Bank, which only lends to and invests in organisations that benefit people and the environment.

Worst part of the job: “Dealing with any situation where people are taking advantage of the bank or using the bank for their own purposes: fraud, for example,” says Middleton.

How to get there: “Have a background in banking or the financial sector, especially at the moment, with so many regulatory aspects to contend with,” he says.

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