Factoring in the gender pay gap, the rise of interest rates during the pandemic, and the cost-of-living crisis, staying afloat has never been harder.
Regardless of whether you’re a part-time or full-time employee in the UK, knowing where you stand is more important than ever!
So, what is a good salary in the UK, and what factors into getting one? In this article we’ll cover:
- The average UK salary
- Factors that make a salary “good”
- A breakdown of a few different salaries.
Before we get started, if you want to increase your income, check out ways to increase your income with side hustles, where we can help you increase your income in your spare time.
What is the Average Salary in the UK?
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the UK average salary was £14,727 for part-time workers and £39,966 for full-time employees.
Median Salaries in the UK
Meanwhile, the median salary for part-time employees in 2023 is expected to be £12,247.
For full-time employees, this is projected to be £33,000 — lower than the previous year.
What Makes a Salary “Good”? A Look at the Determining Factors
The average wage in London, a city known for its high living costs, significantly surpasses any other city in the UK with an annual wage of £41,506.29.
However with most studies calculating income based on the average wage — which is higher in London due to the number of high-earners living and working there — does London really offer a better quality of life?
Cost of Living
Living in London might require a single person to spend an eye-watering £38,000 per annum — £1,000 more than the monthly national average across the UK!
The financial strain families face is even greater. The monthly cost for a family of four is £5,285, equaling a staggering £63,000 a year.
Not only is London the costliest city in the UK, but it’s also one of the most expensive in Western Europe.
In comparison, you may earn less in Durham (the average salary falls behind at £32.8K) but living costs are lower, with the rental average setting you back £1,088 per calendar month, according to home.co.uk.
In terms of job vacancies, London takes the lead – offering the highest number of vacancies in all industries, followed closely by the North West.
It’s of note that, although there are currently a large number of vacancies, that doesn’t necessarily mean people are getting these jobs.
It’s often the case that even entry-level jobs are asking that applicants have prior experience, making it harder for younger people to join the career ladder.
Additionally, London has recovered much more slowly over COVID, due to a “skills mismatch”.
Where you live impacts how much of your income is swallowed up in public transport costs.
With taxes and inflation on the rise, the average Londoner working and commuting in the city will shell out around £5,114 annually for their commute.
By contrast, those who make the 35-minute commute from Lichfield into Birmingham – England’s second-largest city – would only spend around £1,300 a year.
However, as London is the base for a lot of professional industries, there are many people who work in London but don’t live there. Some employees even commute from as far as Bristol!
In circumstances such as these, you’re likely to rack up potential commuting expenses of £8,230 per year.
Occupation and Industry
If money is your primary motivation then, like most other Western countries, the medical and finance sectors consistently offer good salaries.
However, with newer industries like marketing becoming more necessary in the digitally enhanced world, these professions have also begun to make an appearance.
So, excluding medical sectors, what are the top three paying industries in the UK?
Top Paying Industries in the UK
Recent data from Statista indicates chief executives and senior officials are among the highest earners in the UK, with a median salary of £1,561 per week.
Marketing, sales, and advertising directors come in a close second, with a median weekly salary of £1,486.
Aviation comes in third, with aircraft pilots and air traffic controllers earning roughly £1,418pw, closely followed by IT directors on £1,408pw.
General Living Expenses
Not only does the cost of accommodation vary depending on your postcode, but so do the general living costs.
An example of this is the different electricity tariffs issued based on where you are in the country.
In the North West, your energy may be priced at 31.882p/kWh, whereas in London the same plan will cost 34.093p/kWh.
This isn’t limited to electricity. Water and sewage charges also differ, as do food, petrol, and other utilities.
Age and Gender
When it comes to how thick your pay packet is, it makes sense that the more experienced you are the higher your wage will be.
Data from Statista shows that 16–17 year olds had the lowest earning rate last year, with an average of £229 per week (£241 for males and £220 for females).
So, when will you be likely to earn the most?
Well, you can expect to see your earnings reach a peak between the ages of 40 and 49, with a median of £727 a week. After that, the typical salary steadily declines.
And what about pay parity? Where is the UK sitting with that?
It’s evident that men statistically earn more than women, yet it’s worth noting that in recent years efforts have been made to address this discrepancy.
In a Gender Pay Report conducted by the UK Government, the mean GPG (the difference between men’s and women’s average hourly pay) has seen a consistent rise over the last decade.
In the UK, income tax varies depending on your income band. Currently, any income below £12,570 is income tax-free.
For those earning an annual income of less than £50,270, the amount of tax payable is 20%, but if your income exceeds £150,000, you will be subject to a higher rate of tax, at 45%.
Gross vs. Net
As they say, looks can be deceiving – and while a £100,000 salary appears to be a large amount of money (and it is), it’s also important to consider that what you receive will be less after subtracting the net versus gross salary.
Because of the way the UK tax system works, a couple sharing one income will pay more tax than a couple earning two lesser incomes.
Breaking Down Different Salaries
So, what would life look like on a salary of £35,000 per year (£27,186 after tax and National Insurance, or £2,265 a month), living in Bristol?
You would expect to pay between £750–£1,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. Utilities will cost between £200 – £300 a month. Council Tax would be roughly £150 a month. Internet averages around £40.
Your food shop would probably be around £250, give or take, without having to scrimp.
- Additional expenditure
Then you can factor in all the other little bits with the remaining £1,125. This may include clothes, phone bills, subscriptions, gym memberships, etc.
You should have money left for hobbies, or to save some extra cash while still being able to live a moderate and comfortable lifestyle.
So, while not quite enough for an extravagant lifestyle or saving loads, this salary is enough to live comfortably. It should also leave you with enough to enjoy a nice meal or a few cocktails on the weekend.
Although it may not be great for long-term financial stability, it’s a good salary to allow someone in the UK to lead a moderate lifestyle.
90K Salary: Is it a Good Salary in the UK?
No matter where you’re located in the UK, £90,000 is considered a top-tier salary.
With a salary nearly triple the average wage, a singleton or a couple would be able to live an upmarket lifestyle.
However, the situation is a little different for families.
According to the findings of the Pensions & Lifetime Savings Association and the Child Poverty Action Group’s joint study, a total net income of £67,554 is needed to sustain a comfortable lifestyle for a family of 2 parents and 2 children.
70K Salary: Is 70k a Good Salary in the UK?
An annual gross salary of £70,000 is double the average wage for the UK, placing you in the top 5% of earners.
And for those living outside London, it’s likely enough to fund a modest lifestyle. However, for those residing in London, it may not offer the same liberties.
40K Salary: Is 40k a Good Salary in the UK?
Sitting above the national average, a gross salary of £40,000 provides the essentials, funding a comfortable lifestyle for those living in locations outside of London.
The Verdict: What is a Good Salary in the UK?
Generally speaking a gross salary above the median is considered a good salary, but this also depends on a variety of wide-ranging factors. These include living expenses and family-related costs.
A salary above the median covers expenses, but your circumstances and lifestyle are what determine how much your salary needs to be for it to be determined as a “good salary”!