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Revealed: Most common occupations in the UK

Revealed: Most common occupations in the UK - Ciphr

New analysis of ONS data has revealed the jobs with the most full-time employees in the UK.

There are now more people working full-time as programmers and software development professionals than any other occupation type, according to a new study by HR software provider Ciphr based on the ONS’ latest Annual Population Survey estimates.

In the year to December 2023, there was a 14% increase in the number of programmers and software development professionals – an umbrella term that includes over 120 job titles, such as software engineer, machine learning engineer, app developer, games designer, computer programmer, IT analyst and software architect – employed in the UK.

It’s now the most popular, or widely held, full-time occupation – accounting for 2.5% (531,600) of the UK’s estimated 21.6 million full-time employees (not including self-employed workers). It also pays a higher-than-average median salary of £49,430. Notably, over half (56%) of employees in these roles are based in the south and east regions of England, including London.

Other IT jobs that have seen their full-time workforces grow by at least a quarter in the last few years include cybersecurity professionals (up 58% to 63,300 estimated employees); IT professionals n.e.c., such as IT contractors, DevOps engineers, SAP consultants and web managers (up 28% to 139,400); and IT business analysts, architects, and systems designers (up 26% to 180,300).

The number of people employed as care workers and home carers may have shrunk by 10% in 2023, but its workforce is still nearly half a million strong (437,300) – making it the second most common full-time occupation in the UK. It’s among one of the UK’s lowest-paid jobs, however, with typical median pay coming in at just two-thirds of the UK’s average salary (£23,409 vs £34,963).

The job type with the third largest number of full-time workers is administrators and clerical/admin assistants (other administrative occupations n.e.c), with 378,800 estimated employees.

There are also over 300,000 people currently employed as secondary school teachers, financial managers and directors, and warehouse operatives.

The top 20 most common full-time occupations in the UK – and what they pay:

  1. Programmers and software development professionals: 531,600 estimated employees (£49,430 per year)
  2. Care workers and home carers: 437,300 (£23,409)
  3. Other administrative occupations n.e.c: 378,800 (£25,808)
  4. Secondary education teaching professionals: 356,300 (£42,818)
  5. Financial managers and directors: 313,600 (£70,000)
  6. Warehouse operatives: 305,400 (£24,945)
  7. Other nursing professionals: 298,000 (£37,960)
  8. Sales accounts and business development managers: 291,300 (£52,495)
  9. Business and financial project management professionals: 276,600 (£52,896)
  10. Sales and retail assistants: 273,700 (£21,530)
  11. Book-keepers, payroll managers and wages clerks: 273,200 (£28,000)
  12. Primary education teaching professionals: 272,600 (£40,059)
  13. Managers and directors in retail and wholesale: 246,400 (£33,121)
  14. Finance and investment analysts and advisers: 236,100 (£40,629)
  15. Large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers: 229,900 (£37,256)
  16. IT managers: 223,700 (£50,880)
  17. Higher education teaching professionals: 207,200 (£47,726)
  18. Production managers and directors in manufacturing: 205,900 (£51,469)
  19. Customer service occupations n.e.c: 196,200 (£25,000)
  20. IT business analysts, architects and systems designers: 180,300 (£51,698)

Based on the latest employment estimates, the top five jobs with the most full-time female employees in the UK are care workers and home carers, administrative and clerical assistants (other administrative occupations n.e.c), other nursing professionals (including nurses, sisters and matrons), and primary and secondary education teaching professionals.

The five jobs with the most full-time male employees are programmers and software development professionals, warehouse operatives, LGV drivers, financial managers and directors, and sales accounts and business development managers.

What jobs are the most common in different parts of the UK?

While there are more programmers and software development professionals in the UK as a whole than any other job, it’s not the most popular job in every part of the UK.

In the northern regions of England, as well as in Scotland and Wales, there are estimated to be more full-time care workers and home carers than programmers and software development professionals.

The West Midlands has a similar number of full-time warehouse operatives, as it does care workers. The East Midlands has more LGV drivers. In Northern Ireland, the data shows that there are more people employed as administrative and clerical assistants than any other job.

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