Aside from senior managers and officials, professionals make up the best paid section of UK workers. The average professional can expect to earn around £712 per week, more than £211 more than the national average of £500.70 per week, according to the Office for National Statistics. A professional must gain qualifications in a specific trade. You'll then get the benefit of credentials, as well as the kudos of belonging to a professional body. But let's face it, when it comes to listing the best professions in the UK, this usually means the highest paying.
With an average annual wage of £69,952 in 2011, according to The Guardian, it's no surprise that medical practitioner ranks as one of the best professions in the UK. Doctors come in many different forms, from general practitioners to brain surgeons. Once qualified, you'll become a member of a highly prestigious professional organisation -- the British Medical Association. Plus, doctors still command plenty of respect in the community. But all this money and kudos doesn't come easy; expect between 5 and 8 years years of rigorous training, with more required for specialist surgeons.
The big wigs
Much like doctors, lawyers need to put in time, effort and money to qualify. Usually, that means getting a law degree or graduate degree with a law conversion course. However, once qualified there are many opportunities for a bright lawyer, with seemingly endless specialist areas -- from technology and media lawers, to criminal barristers and solicitors. A qualified lawyer practising at a respected law firm in London can expect a salary of £75,000. At the very top end, a High Court Judge in the UK earned £172,753 in 2011, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Even in the age of mass air travel, pilots still have something of the movie star about them. Maybe it's the uniform, or perhaps it's because they spend a large proportion of their working lives steering metal through the sky. Whatever the attraction, pilot remains one of the best compensated professions in the UK. The average pilot can expect around £74,442 every year, based on 2011 salary data.
The great teacher inspires
Teaching may not be the best paid profession in the UK. However, teaching comes with lots of other benefits. For one thing, the UK always needs teachers no matter what the economy. Secondly, teachers get around 13 weeks of annual paid holiday, three times as much as the average Briton, according to the Daily Mail. And the money isn't all bad. You could earn £60,000 a year as a primary school headteacher, or as much as £95,000 as a secondary head.
Train as an accountant or financial analyst and you could open up a whole range of high-paying roles. For example, company registrars and financial directors in leading UK companies make £100,000 and more every year for planning company finances. Roles at some of the larger businesses in London's financial district, the Square Mile, can pay significantly more. You'll need a good head for maths and qualifications in accountancy before you can start moving up the financial career ladder.
The tooth fairy
Dentistry ranks one of the best professions in the UK. While not as highly paid as most doctors, dentists nonetheless earn an average of £60,098 -- far above the gross median national salary of £26,244 in 2011, according to The Guardian. If you can handle looking into gaping mouths all day, and don't mind the white coats, then dentistry could be a good career choice.
The not-so-nutty professor
At the high end of the teaching profession pay-wise, university lecturers and professors can earn upwards of £69,500 per year. They can also negotiate paid sabbatical leave to research academic papers. Depending on the subject, this research can involve travelling the world meeting interesting people, or working on ground-breaking new scientific techniques. If you're keen on study, the academic process and teaching bright young people, then lecturing is a good profession for you.
- Office For National Statistics: 2011 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (SOC 2000) Earnings by Occupation
- The Telegraph: Top Jobs For 2011 - Lawyer
- The Guardian: Highest Paid Jobs in the UK 2011
- Ministry of Justice: Judicial Salaries From 1 April 2011
- MailOnline: Teachers Should Have 'Sabbatical' to Avoid Burnout and Return 'Refreshed', Says New Ofsted Head
- The Telegraph: Top 10 jobs for 2011 - Headteacher