How much should you expect to earn per hour? A guide to hourly rates

Getting your first job after university is a scary prospect. You might be so used to staying in and studying for your exams that the idea of walking into an office every day as part of a team can be intimidating. Add in the fact that you’ll probably need to ask your friends and family for recommendations, make sure you have the right CV and application, write cover letters and interview – it all adds up to some serious stress.

But, thankfully, things are getting easier all the time. More companies are making their jobs more accessible online, removing some of the fear factor in applying. Also, with more people graduating university than ever before, competition is fiercer than ever which means that everyone can negotiate better terms when taking on new roles.

Topic Index
  1. How much do you know about hourly rates?
  2. What is an average hourly rate?
  3. Which roles pay the most per hour?
  4. Freelance or contract roles pay more per hour.
    1. Exceptions to the rule: Big brands and banks pay more.

How much do you know about hourly rates?

The most basic question to start with: what is an hourly rate? Basically, it’s the amount you earn per hour for the work you do. It’s usually paid by the hour and it’s calculated by dividing up the total amount of money you’ll be earning by the hours you’ll be working to earn that money.

So, if you’re earning £30,000 a year and you work 40 hours a week, your hourly rate is £30,000 divided by 40, which is £75. That’s pretty simple, right? But it’s worth remembering that you’re likely to earn extra on top of your hourly rate during a shift if you work in retail or hospitality, for example.

What is an average hourly rate?

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the average rate for full-time employees in the UK is £27.50 per hour.

This is the median rate across all industries, occupations and seniority levels.
There are, of course, huge variations on this. The highest paying industries are mining and quarrying, financial services, real estate and water or electricity supply.

The lowest paying industries are public administration and defence, education, health and social work, and arts and entertainment.

Which roles pay the most per hour?

If you’re after a high salary, you might want to consider careers such as mining, healthcare, aviation and aerospace engineering, or law if you enjoy a high pressure environment.

Over £65 per hour on average is what you’d expect in finance, investment banking and management consultancy.
These salaries are high due to the high amount of experience and skill required to do the job.

Freelance or contract roles pay more per hour.

If you’re looking for more flexibility in your career path, freelance and contract roles can be a great option. You can pick and choose the jobs that interest you, and even take on multiple projects at the same time.

However, these roles also generally pay more per hour than traditional 9-5 office jobs, as there’s less security for both the company and the employee. You’re expected to be more self-sufficient, working with clients and contractors, booking your own appointments, keeping track of your hours, and, sometimes, making your own invoices and managing your own finances.

Exceptions to the rule: Big brands and banks pay more.

You might expect the highest paying industries to be the ones that employ the most people, but this isn’t necessarily the case. The industries that pay the highest may not have the highest demand for jobs.

This is because some of the highest paying industries are also some of the most competitive, meaning it’s harder to land a job in them. Think technology, finance, healthcare, and legal.

If you’re negotiating a salary, remember that you have every right to ask for what you’re worth. You can use job websites like The Muse, or Glassdoor to research what others in similar roles are earning, and then you can use this information to help you to negotiate. Don’t forget to include benefits like healthcare or travel expenses in your calculations. You can also use this information to help you decide which type of work is the best fit for you.

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