How do the earnings of doctors compare with those of other occupations?

Authors: Tom Moberly 

Publication date:  29 Nov 2017

In 2017, the median income across all doctors working full time in the UK was £75 577.

This makes doctors the seventh highest earning group across the 493 occupations categorised by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The highest earning group is chief executives and senior officials, whose median pay is £89 825, and the second highest earning is air traffic controllers, whose median pay is £87 889.

The median income of doctors in 2017 was higher than the median income across all professional groups taken as a whole, which was £38 053. It is also higher than the median income for other health professions, which was £48 302 when nurses and midwives are not included in the calculations, and £34 734 when they are included.

To compare earnings across different occupations, the ONS data categorises roles into nine high level descriptions, 115 mid-level descriptions, and 369 specific occupation descriptions. The six groups of occupations with median incomes higher than doctors’ fall under both specific occupation descriptions and mid-level descriptions. They include chief executives, senior officials, air traffic controllers, aircraft pilots, flight engineers, and marketing and sales directors

When looking solely at specific occupation descriptions, doctors are ranked fifth out of the 369 descriptions at this level. The four occupations in which people earn a median wage higher than that of doctors are: chief executives and senior officials; air traffic controllers; aircraft pilots and flight engineers; and marketing and sales directors.

Top 10 highest earning occupations (2017)

1 Chief executives and senior officials £89 825

2 Air traffic controllers £87 889

3 Chief executives and senior officials £86 922

4 Aircraft pilots and flight engineers £84 761

5 Transport associate professionals £77 401

6 Marketing and sales directors £76 876

7 Doctors £75 577

8 Lawyers not classified as judges, barristers, or solicitors £73 864

9 Information technology and telecommunications directors £69 577

10 Financial managers and directors £66 039

Source: Office for National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings

Tom Moberly UK editor The BMJ

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: