The cost of living keeps going up and a lot of us are really starting to feel the pinch. But are you earning enough to help you manage that cost or has your salary fallen behind other people in your sector?
If you’re thinking about asking for a pay rise or you just want to know where you stand, then here’s a rundown of the state of pay in the UK…
What’s the average pay in the UK?
Before we start to dig into specific industries, it’s worth understanding how much the average pay is in this country.
There are a few different ways to work that out but the Office for National Statistics uses the median, which means they look at the full range of salaries and tell us what the very middle wage is.
And that shows that the average annual pay for full-time employees in the last tax year was £31,285.
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What about different jobs?
Average pay on a national scale might be interesting but it’s more useful to find out what the pay in your sector or industry typically is.
For example, office managers had an average salary of £32,004 a year, whereas receptionists were typically paid £19,044. Ambulance staff (excluding paramedics) typically received £26,939, while beauticians had an average pay of £15,210.
Lots of kids dream of being train drivers when they grow up and that’s not a bad dream when it comes to salary – their typical pay was £59,198. Tyre, exhaust and windscreen fitters had an average pay of £22,905.
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What about different parts of the UK?
It’s probably no surprise that across the UK the average amount people earn varies hugely too. Lots of employers pay extra to staff who work in more expensive cities and the number of available or skilled workers in an area can play a big role in setting salaries.
In parts of London, for example, the average weekly pay was £819 in the last tax year. In the Scottish Highlands it was £596 and in Manchester it was £610.
But there are a lot of different factors that influence that, including the kind of industries that are common in any one area.
Whose pay is rising?
There’s a real shortage of labour just now and that means that the workforce has a lot of power when it comes to negotiating their wages.
That’s particularly true in some sectors, where there’s a real drought of people with the right skills.
One good example is HGV drivers. A shortage of drivers was behind disruption at the pumps and shortages at the supermarket last year, leading to some of them (although not all) being offered substantial pay increases by employers desperate to keep them.
One driver told the BBC that he was given a 40% pay increase in September last year, without even asking for it. And there are some adverts for experienced, qualified drivers offering as much as £55,000 a year.
The typical lorry driver was paid just under £31,000, according to the ONS.
But pay is rising for a lot of other sectors too. Between November last year and January 2022, average pay grew by 3.8% if you don’t include bonuses and 4.8% if you do.
That’s growing fast but it’s not keeping up with inflation, which means that many people will be getting poorer in real terms.
And if you’re one of the country’s 5.7 million public sector workers, then you’re not seeing the same growth as elsewhere.
Average total pay growth for the private sector was 5.3% in that period but for public sector workers it was 2.4%.
How do I ask for a pay rise?
Of course, many employers are also struggling with rising prices just now and you might find yours can’t afford to give you an inflation-beating pay rise.
And there are other things your boss might be able to consider that could improve your working conditions and even save you money, such as flexible working or less time in the office. Check out this list of ideas.
But if you want to push for a pay rise just now then lots of the big job boards have advice on how to ask your boss for more money. Indeed recommends choosing the right time, which potentially means not asking if your employer is struggling financially or when your manager is busy and stressed.
Monster warns that it’s important to be cool and calm, armed with facts and professional evidence rather than going in “all guns blazing”.
Glassdoor recommends making notes to build your case, for example, when you have recently gone above and beyond what was expected of you or achieved a substantial win for the business. It also recommends building evidence to clearly lay before your manager that shows why you deserve a pay rise.
Whatever your job, understanding where your salary sits within the UK and within your sector will help you better understand exactly what you can ask for.