There are a number of factors that determine a person's salary in the UK. For example:

  • Age group
  • The industry
  • Skill level/position
  • Effort
  • Education level
  • Full-time salaries vs part-time workers
  • Location
  • Luck

One of the biggest predictors of wealth and average UK salary is someone's age group. Whatever industry you work in, age is seen as a deciding factor in your salary. This is because older people are said to have accrued more life and career experience. In theory, this means that older workers bring more value to employers.

The obvious caveat is professional athletes, who tend to peak at between 20 and 30 years old. The highest-paid athlete ever, Michael Jordan retired at 40, and Floyd Mayweather the highest paid combat sports star retired at 41. Both athletes were considered well past their prime at this age.

This is also a standard set by the UK government which sets minimum wage rates depending on age.

23 and over21 to 2218 to 20Under 18Apprentice
April 2021 (current rate)£8.91£8.36£6.56£4.62
April 2022£9.50£9.18£6.83£4.81

These national statistics by Statista show how greatly age can affect a person's average salary in the UK. According to these salary figures, the prime age in terms of average UK salary is 40-49. This group has a median average wage of £38,463.

As we will see, a person's age is not the only deciding factor in someone's average salary. National statistics show men and women have different average salaries. On average it is shown that women earn less than men.





Why is there a gender pay gap?

Much has been made about the gender pay gap and why it is a trend seen across all age categories. One of the main reasons for this difference is that more women are on part-time salaries than men. Often women carry the burden of childcare which can impact how many hours they can commit to their careers. This can greatly hinder career progression and salary.

Also, as well as a lower yearly average UK salary, part-time workers tend to have lower hourly pay. In 2020 it was shown that men worked on average, 153 million more hours than women per week overall. This means that because women who raise families are often restricted in how many hours they can work (part-time), they are often left at a disadvantage. It is harder for women to commit to the higher-paid, full-time positions if they raise children.

It has also been shown that in the highest-paid age category (40-49) there is the biggest gap in average UK salary. A 2019 ONS report showed the gap between genders in this age group to be around 12%. This report showed:

"A lower incidence of women moving into higher-paid managerial occupations after the age of 39 years."

This career progression largely increases workers earning potential. However, figures show that fewer women become managers and directors than men.

It has been shown that on average graduates tend to have much higher average earnings. In 2020 the average graduate UK salary was £9.500 more than non-graduate average salaries.

It was also shown that the median salary for an entry-level graduate, ranges from £21,000 - £25,000. However, these Uk average salaries can vary dependent on the industry. The same source broke down these figures for each of the main jobs sectors.

Average (entry-level) graduate salary by 2022 SectorSalary(GBP)
Advertising & PR22,748
Architecture & Construction23,295
Arts & Design22,092
Buying & Merchandising26,860
Computing & IT26,580
Customer Service25,941
Distribution & Logistics25,249
Education & Teaching22,467
Energy & Utilities22,665
Food & Drink & Catering29,225
Human Resources24,630
Internet & Digital Media29,151
Legal & Law27,328
Manufacturing & Production23,987
Military & Defence26,272
Public Sector26,037
Research & Analysis26,499
Science & Technology25,637
Secretarial & Business Admin26,423
Sports & Recreation22,266
Travel & Hospitality26,284

With many of the highest-paid jobs demanding qualifications from higher educational establishments, this is another deciding factor.

Graduates can also expect to see an average salary increase more often than non-graduates. This is because the chance of progression is higher. For example, marketing and human resources positions typically see a sharp rise in their annual salary as they gain experience.

UK average salary by location

Average salary data shows that earnings differ widely when comparing different regions in the UK. As expected, London has the highest UK average salary at £39,716. This average wage is more than the average salary of the UK's highest-earning age demographic. However, the cost of living in London is far higher compared to anywhere else in the UK so the high average salary is somewhat dissipated. The value for money in the national capital is the lowest in the country.

The average salary in the country of Scotland is the third highest in the United Kingdom at £31,672. North East England had the lowest average salary in the UK with only £27,515

What role has the highest UK average salary?

Highest average salary

It has been shown that the bank of England Governer has the highest average salary in the UK. An average full-time salary is around £495,000 for this position. This is higher than the prime minister who earns £161,868. A police commissioner has the second-highest average salary earning £230,000 annually.

Highest pay packet 2021

This is not to say that the UK's highest-earning person was the bank of England Governor in 2021. This was Bet365 boss - a female no less, that earned one of the biggest pay packets in UK corporate history. Denise Coates CBE earned £469 million in a single year (2021).

Highest paid industry

Legal professionals tended to have higher earnings compared to other sectors. Judges, in particular, had average earnings of over £180,000.

Highest Paid CEO

Also, unsurprisingly the highest-paid CEO of 2020 was Pascal Soriot of AstraZeneca who earned £15.45 million. These earnings are staggering but often do not reflect the average salary of individuals with similar job titles. Similarly, the wealth disparity between athletes, musicians, and actors can greatly skew the average salary of their professions.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the average salary in the UK is £31,772. This takes into account all of the differentials previously discussed to give a median national average.

In 2021 the average salary increased by 4.3 percent compared to 2020. This was the largest growth in earnings since 2008, which reflects the high inflation rate.

In January 2022 inflation was at its highest rate in 30 years. This meant that the rise in earnings was thwarted by rising rent, clothing, and food prices. The domestic energy cap will also rise by 54% in April, meaning more expensive heating bills.

With full-time salaries averaging around £30,000, and entry-level salaries starting at around £21,000, it may be time to increase your salary to match growing living costs. But, how is that achievable?

One solution is to ask for a pay rise. However, you must be prepared to justify that. One way would be to upscale your skillset to make you noticeably more efficient in the workplace. It is also important to record a track record of any achievements to bolster your case. This may lead to a pay upgrade or even a promotion.

It is also important to stay aware of the current value of related occupations. This may give you ammunition for negotiating your salary with employers. It may also give you an outside path to achieve your desired salary. You may decide to get a new job at another company that pays better for example.

You can also earn more by sheer effort. This helps set you apart from other employees as a hard-working, enthusiastic individual, which may help you gain promotion as well.

Across the UK salaries differ greatly because of a number of key factors, For example, UK data shows that how old a person is, largely defines their earning potential. This is partly because the national minimum wage is defined by this. Moreover, salaries are highest in the 40 -49 category as employees tend to move into managerial positions.

On average men and women in the UK have different salaries. Again, UK data shows that there is a gender pay gap across the board. However, this is largely due to the fact most men work more hours. More men are in full-time work than women, as many females work part-time for better work-life balance.

Undergraduate employees also earned more. Data showed that undergraduates in the UK earn around £9,500 more than non-graduates. Certain areas of the UK also had differing average salaries. ONS data showed Londoners had the highest average salaries in the UK.

Out of all the jobs in the nation, the bank of England Governer has the highest average salary. Though other individuals - both men and women, earn vastly more.