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Highest and Lowest Paid Jobs of 2013

Rachel Burge for

The average full-time worker in the UK takes home £517 a week before tax (which equates to an annual salary of £27,000), according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.*

While average earnings have risen by 2.2 per cent from £506 in 2012, the bad news is that the 2.4 per cent rate of inflation means wages are worth less in real terms.

We reveal the top five professions by median weekly wage – along with information on what they do and how to become one – plus the five worst-paying jobs.

Chief executives: £1,594 per week

A chief executive officer (CEO) or managing director (MD) is the big boss of an organisation. Answering to the board of directors, they are in charge of high-level decisions around policy and strategy and are responsible for generating profits for the company. In tough economic times, their leadership can turn around a company's fortunes - or accelerate its demise.

How to become one: While there are no formal qualifications required to become a CEO, the majority have many years' business and management experience and have previously sat on the board of directors for a company. Taking an MBA from a university or college with a good reputation is the first step towards a role in senior management for many.

Pilots: £1,528 per week

Airline captains and commercial pilots fly passengers and cargo around the world. As well as carrying out pre-flight checks of instruments, engines and fuel, they are responsible for making sure that all safety systems are working properly, working out the best route based on weather reports and other information from air traffic control. As you might imagine, pilots need to be able to keep a clear head in the event of an emergency.

How to become one: You need a minimum of five GCSEs and two A-levels in order to train for an airline transport pilot's licence (, which you can take over an 18-month period or a longer modular-based course. Before you can apply for the role of captain, you must first clock up 1,500 hours of flying, including 500 hours of multi-crew flying,

Air traffic controllers: £1,328 per week

Air traffic controllers ensure that pilots are able to take off and land safely and that airborne aircraft are kept a safe distance apart. They manage aircraft as they near the airport, arranging them into the correct landing order, and relay landing instructions to pilots as they descend. As well as needing to be decisive and articulate, air traffic controllers require excellent concentration, numeracy and problem-solving skills.

How to become one: The majority of air traffic controllers train via the trainee air traffic control scheme at NATS (, the UK's major ATC provider. While you don't need a degree to apply, you should be aged 18 or above and have at least five GCSEs (A-C) including English and maths. Training typically takes between two and three years.

Marketing and sales directors: £1,289 per week

Senior marketing and sales directors are responsible for ensuring a product sells – and the fact that they are the highest-paid executives after the CEO reveals the importance of sales to a company's success. Senior marketing managers are responsible for the success of marketing campaigns (which may include TV advertising, direct mail, websites and promotional events), and manage budgets as well a team of marketing executives.

How to become one: While there are no mandatory qualifications, you will need solid experience as a marketing executive before progressing into management. Most marketing and sales directors have a business-related degree or qualification from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIMA),, such as the chartered postgraduate diploma in marketing.

Legal professionals: £1,258 per week

The fifth top paying profession on the ONS list is 'legal professionals not elsewhere classified', which includes all legal occupations that could not be coded more specifically as either 'Barristers and judges' or 'Solicitors'. Broadly speaking, legal professionals advise their clients, which could be individuals, organisations, companies or government departments, about the law and act on their behalf in legal matters and represent them in court settings.

How to become one: While there are a number of routes via which you can qualify to practise as a legal professional,

taking a law degree is the most straightforward. If your degree is not in law you can still become a solicitor, but will need to realign your studies and take the Common Professional Examination/Graduate Diploma in law course. For more information visit The Law Society

And the worst paid jobs of 2013?

In case you were wondering, the bottom five professions by weekly wage are: hairdressers and barbers (£257), waiting staff (£257), bar staff (£258), kitchen and catering assistants (£262) and retail cashiers and check-out operators (£269).

* The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) is based on a 1% sample of employee jobs drawn from HM Revenue and Customs Pay As You Earn (PAYE) records. Salary figures are the median rather than the mean -  the middle value when everyone's wages are arranged from highest to lowest - as this is less skewed by a relatively small number of very high earners.

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