Opinion

Salary trends across the UK show where and how you can earn more outside London

4 min read

23 November 2015

On the back of the government’s announcement that the UK employment rate has reached 73.6 per cent (the highest rate since records began), it is clear that the job market in many industries is on its way to becoming as fruitful as before the recession.

With this in mind, many workers will be thinking about taking the next step in their careers, wondering how their salary compares to industry averages and if they should look to move company or even city. The key point to ponder is the question of where the opportunities lie.

It is a long-held belief, and grounded in fact, that if you want to earn the top wages in many industries, you need to work in a big city, more often than not, London. 

While financial services is most commonly the industry where the contrast in salaries is most stark between London and other areas of the UK, there are some industries and roles where this is not necessarily the case.

Staying with financial services for a minute, recent analysis from the last three months of activity on the Michael Page Salary Comparison Tool found that accounting roles in financial services earn on average £20,000 more in London than any other UK region.

Unsurprisingly, financial services also remains the highest earning industry, particularly for professionals in accounting, digital, human resources, legal and marketing.

Regional roles

However, interestingly not all industries follow this trend most evident in financial services, and in some jobs the reverse is true, where regional roles actually offer higher earning potential than roles in cities like London.

Logistics roles in transport and distribution have higher salaries in the West Midlands, South West, East Midlands and East England, whilst accounting jobs in energy and resources have higher wages in the South West.

Another interesting trend being seen across industries is the occurrence of technical knowledge in sales roles leading to better salaries.

This is demonstrated in the industrial sector where higher base salaries are received by sales professionals reflecting the technical expertise needed.

However, while salaries can be £7,000 lower in other sectors such as business services and technology, incentives are often higher and more frequent.

Further key salary trends uncovered in the last three months include:

  • A finance controller can typically earn £62,000 in the financial services industry, compared to £55,000 in the industrial/manufacturing industry
  • A product marketing manager can earn £52,000 in the financial services industry, compared to £38,000 in the FMCG industry 
  • Mid-level finance roles in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector can earn up to £15,000 more in London than the next highest region

What this mean for employers

While salary is not the be-all and end-all, it will be a key motivator for many job moves, particularly if employees feel undervalued in comparison with industry averages.

However, what today’s employees are also looking for when making a move is engagement.

They are looking to engage with their employer in a different way than we’ve previously been used to and now expect a personal, flexible and equal relationship from start to finish.

Employers must therefore take stock and identify how they can really engage with potential employees to foster the right relationships and secure the best talent.

However, what is clear is that there is a massive variation in salary based on industry sectors, location and even roles.

If prospective employees begin the move with this in mind, then employers will need to also consider industry averages, salary trends and how big a factor it will be in getting the best person for future roles that need fulfilling.

Jonathan Firth is the MD of Michael Page Finance & Consultancy