Revealed: the best-paid civil service professions

Written by Beckie Smith on 22 August 2019 in News
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Median pay for top-paid professions twice that of the lowest, figures show

Photo: Pixabay

Planning inspection, law and economics are the best-paid profession in government, it has been revealed, in the Cabinet Office's first-ever published breakdown of salaries.

At £56,350, median pay for planning inspectors was more than twice that of the lowest-paid professions: operational delivery, at £24,480; counter fraud, at £26,120; and security, at £26,160.

Planning inspectors also earned more than twice the median pay across the civil service – which the Cabinet Office said was “heavily influenced” by the fact that operational delivery professionals make up a large proportion of the overall headcount.


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Government lawyers were paid a median salary of £53,380, while economists took home £50,000 on average. Rounding out the top five, average pay for education and training inspectors was £49,460, and for vets was £48,790.

Among the lower-paid professions were psychology, paying a median salary of £29,070; intelligence analysis, at £29.430; tax, at £30,320; and property, at £31,000.

The figures are not broken down by grade, and so some figures may reflect the seniority of civil servants in the profession as well as comparable pay-per-grade rates.

The statistics also show wide variation in pay between civil servants in some professions. The biggest variation was seen in the medical profession – with civil servants in the top quartile of earners taking home an average of £82,050 – close to three times that of those in the lowest quartile, £29,610.

The figures, taken from the Civil Service Employment Survey, reflect civil servants’ current positions in government, rather than any professional qualifications they might have.

The figures were published as part of a collection of national statistics on civil service staffing for 2018-19.

The stats reflected the shifting demographics of the civil service, which has become weighted more heavily towards more senior grades in the last decade. Around two-thirds of civil servants are now at executive officer (EO) grade and higher – up from just over half 10 years ago.

They also showed a shift towards London. The number of staff based in the capital has grown by 6.7% in the last year – more than any other region. All regions saw an increase in headcount amid a recruitment drive to support Brexit preparations – with the greatest boost in Yorkshire in the Humber, at 5.2% - other than the East of England, which fell by 1.4%.

And the proportion of staff who are under 40 has also risen slightly to hit 35.8%.

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Beckie Smith
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Beckie Smith is a reporter for CSW who tweets @Beckie__Smith.

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