Jan 02

10 surprisingly well paid jobs

Reading Time: 10 mins

Do you have to be highly qualified to have a well paid job?

Being well paid isn’t just the luxury given to bankers, lawyers, film stars and footballers.

There are some other surprisingly well paid jobs that are within reach of most of us. Which one of these is YOUR next career move?


Here are our top 10 surprisingly well paid jobs that don’t require hard to get qualifications:


1. Maternity nurse

Newborn baby and maternity nurse

Salary  – Around £43,000 a year.

What do maternity nurses do?  

Maternity nurses are highly-trained or very experienced nannies who specialise in caring for newborn babies for a couple of months after birth.

They’re not actually nurses but occasionally trained nurses become maternity nurses as the money is often better!

A maternity nurse is responsible for taking care of the baby including feeding and washing the baby, looking after the child throughout the night and doing the baby’s laundry.

Be aware, though, this is no easy job. Maternity nurses are often on call 24 hours a day for five to six days a week. Taking care of newborn children is something you have to be passionate about so only do it if you really love babies.

As a maternity nurse you will also be self-employed so you’ll be responsible for sorting out your own tax and national insurance payments.

How do I become a maternity nurse?

Newborn baby being weighed by a nurse/midwife

According to London nanny agency Top Notch Nannies which places maternity nurses all the time, there are no specific formal qualifications needed to become a maternity nurse but it is useful to have some training in first aid and midwifery.

More important, though, is having relevant experience, complete with good references. Experience in childcare and looking after infants will be essential, and it will certainly go in your favour if you have other relevant experience such as working nights and living with previous employers.

If you’re looking to get some relevant experience, check out our article on getting paid to help a new mum.


2. Ethical hacker

Computer hacker

Salary – A minimum of £35,000 for a newly qualified hacker. Team leaders can earn up to £90,000.

What do ethical hackers do?

Ethical hackers have a pretty cool job – they are paid to hack into a company’s own computer system to see how well it could defend against real hackers. Ethical hackers are also sometimes known as ‘white hats’, referencing the old Western movies where good guys would wear a white hat.

How do I become an ethical hacker?

Female programmer/hacker

If you want to work for the UK government you must hold a qualification approved by the CESG (the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance within the UK.)

Qualifications are provided by Crest, Tiger and Cyber Scheme and if you want to work within the financial sector the Crest qualification is often required.

As with many other jobs on this list, getting the job isn’t all about the qualifications but about experience and knowledge. You’re going to need a strong IT background and experience proving you have what it takes to really test the company’s security systems.

Quite often, being a reformed hacker yourself can be a good qualification – but you need to prove that you’re reformed!

If you’re applying for a job that requires a DBS check then find out all about in our comprehensive article – What is a DBS check?


3. Dog walker

Dachshund on a walk

Salary – You can make up to £60 an hour – and more depending on how well you negotiate!

What do dog walkers do?

Being a dog walker is pretty much doing what it says on the tin: you are paid to walk other people’s dogs. You arrange to pick up the animals, take them for a walk and then return them home. You might need to do it twice a day for each dog and a good walk means a minimum of half an hour – ideally an hour.

Dog walkers charge per dog, per hour. Rates range from about £10-15 per dog, per hour (or half hour in some cases) but some people charge up to £25 an hour in London. If you’re able to take several dogs at once that means you can earn significant amounts per day.

National guidelines suggest that six is the maximum number of dogs that walkers should be able to cope with at one time. However, some local councils have introduced their own rules and in North Lincolnshire, for example, the maximum is four dogs at once. Make sure you are aware of, and abide by, the rules in your area or you could face a fine.  Your local council can answer any queries you may have so give them a call before you get started.

How do I become a dog walker?

Lots of dogs walking on leads

The great thing about becoming a dog walker is you don’t need any qualifications at all, you just need to be a responsible and trustworthy walker who loves dogs.

You can choose to sign up to a dog walking agency which will get you work faster, but they will take a cut of your earnings.

Alternatively you could try putting an advert in your local pet store, vet surgery or, and if you’re feeling really confident you could try asking dog walkers themselves.

Remember, this one is all about getting a good reputation so persevere, get your name out there and do a good job.

For more information read our article – ‘Make £60 an hour while getting fit by dog walking.’


4. Data scientist

Data Scientist

Salary – Around £60,000.

What do data scientists do?

Data science is one of the growing fields in the country and described by some as ‘the sexiest job of the 21st Century.’ Interestingly the term ‘data scientist’ didn’t even exist until 2008 but is now becoming a key job in business.

It’s a data scientist’s job to wade through the vast amount of information collected by businesses, whether it be click-throughs, purchases or social media activity and find, in this raw data, trends, insights and an explanation of what it all means.

Data scientists are often given a lot of freedom to explore all the data from a multitude of angles. They then explain their ‘reading’ of the data to stockbrokers or marketing execs in a way they can understand – who in turn use it to decide where to go next with their business.

Even small companies often now have a huge amount of data from various sources, so the job of the data scientist is constantly growing.

How do I become a data scientist?

Female Scientist using laptop

As it’s a relatively new position, there is no one clear way to become a data scientist. What you will need is a mathematical mind and the kind of personality that finds statistics interesting.

You will also need a creative mind so that once you’ve read the data you can formulate a plan to move forward. Of course you will need to be highly computer literate as well, able to navigate databases with ease and convert the data into readable information.

If you think you have what it takes then look to get an internship so you can work with other data scientists and see what it involves first.

If you’re applying for jobs at the moment, find out how to write a killer cv.


5. Tube train driver

Train control cab

Salary – A trainee tube driver earns around £17,500. Once fully qualified you earn £30,000 and can earn a lot more with experience.

What do tube drivers do?

Well, you know the answer to that…they drive the tube! But there is a fair bit of responsibility involved – as well as doing everything you expect (like driving the train, communicating with control, notifying customers of delays), drivers are also responsible for making sure the train is in working order before you leave, understanding the emergency procedures and noting down key incidents.

How do I become a tube driver?

Female train driver

Tube driving jobs are more popular than you expect (it seems word has got around about the salary) and there are around 317 applications for every one job. So getting selected can be difficult.

There are no specific qualifications required, although a good standard of education is important, but instead it’s more about going through the assessment process and proving you are able to do the job well.


6. Social engineer

Woman whispering in businessman's ear

Salary – Graduates begin on £25,000 and rapidly increase to between £50,000 – £80,000.

What do social engineers do?

Social engineering isn’t a million miles away from the role of an ethical hacker, except that instead of trying to hack the company technically you’re trying to get actual members of staff to divulge vital company information.

The tactics they employ include everything from ringing up a member of staff saying they urgently need to access their network, to trying to persuade people to open a virus in an email.

The point is to highlight to staff how easy it can be to compromise the company’s security so there’s constant awareness to protect against real fraudsters.

How do I become a social engineer?

Professionals chatting

Social engineers will usually have a degree in IT, but it’s also important to have a good understanding of psychology so you can get into a person’s head and get them to divulge company secrets. Being a bit of an actor will definitely help.

It requires a person who is confident and able to convincingly fit in anywhere.

If you haven’t had a job in a while, find out how to overcome long term employment.


7. Train driver

Train driver

Salary – Trainees earn between £18,000  £20,000. A fully qualified driver can earn £48,000.

What does a train driver do?

Again, the clue is in the title, but there’s much more to it than you probably expect. Drivers have to be very flexible with their time and often work long hours.

They need to know the tracks well and know the correct speed limits for each portion of the track. Importantly drivers must be alert, ready to respond should anything happen (trespassers on the track, for example) and constantly watching the signal lights to see how fast they are going.

Let’s not forget, drivers have hundreds of people’s lives in their hands too!

How do I get a job as a train driver?

Train control panel

To be a train driver you will need to be at least 21 years old.

There are no specific qualifications but you will be expected to have a good standard of education with a GCSE in English and maths. If you have any mechanical or electrical knowledge that may also go in your favour.

Again though, it is more about passing the assessment. You have to show you have a good concentration and that you’re attentive.

If you can’t get a job as a train driver straight away you could start working for the railway in another position, for example as station staff, and then apply when a job comes up. Railways often hire internally so this is a good alternative route.


8. Personal butler

Butler holding tray with clean shoes on

Salary – Starting salary of around £35,000 but experience butlers can earn up to £150,000.

What does a personal butler do?

Personal butlers are something we often see in fiction but not something most of us probably have much experience with.

A personal butler is responsible for all household needs. Butlers can be asked to cook, do general housework, look after animals and much more.

How do I become a butler?

Butler holding silver tray

There are no specific qualifications you will need but there are certain courses you can do to show you the ropes. Places which offer such courses include the British Butler Academy and the British Butler Institute.

According to the upmarket domestic agency MrsHunts, to be a successful butler you will need to be happy waiting on people (who you may not even like) hand and foot all the time. It’s a hugely demanding job on your time so your personal life may well suffer as a result.

Find out how to boost your job prospects – for free.


9. Legal secretary

Legal Secretary

Salary-Typical starting salary of at least £14,000 but with experience secretaries can earn £36,000.

What do legal secretaries do?

A legal secretary provides administrative support to lawyers and legal executives.

They do a variety of admin tasks including typing up legal documents, making appointments and dealing with enquiries.

How do I become a legal secretary?

Female legal secretary writing notes

To be a legal secretary you’re going to need to have strong literacy and numeracy skills, as well as being capable with with a computer. You’ll also most likely need office experience.

One of the key ways into secretarial work is through an apprenticeship scheme. You’ll need to look in your local area to see what opportunities are available near you.

For more information on apprenticeships read our article – ‘Apprenticeships: How they work and are they for you?’


10. Air traffic controller

Air Traffic Control Tower

Salary – £65,000 a year.

What does an air traffic controller do?

An air traffic controller helps guide airplanes safely, usually using a radar, through a specific sector of airspace. That’s a fairly hefty responsibility!

If you want some kind of idea of what you’d be dealing with, watch this rather beautiful video:


UK 24 from NATS on Vimeo.

How do I become an air traffic controller?

Air Traffic Controllers

Surprisingly you don’t have to be particularly qualified, although you will need GCSEs and A levels.

There’s a tough series of tests you will have to go through to prove you have the relevant qualities needed for the role.

You’ll need to be quite good with technology and prove that you can cope well under pressure.

Only 25 out of every 3,000 applications are accepted so being an air traffic controller isn’t an easy job to bag!


Do you know of any other surprisingly well-paid jobs? Maybe you do one of them! Tell us about it here in the comments below…

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louise mcnicol
louise mcnicol

A really interesting article and the links included are very helpful too. thanks!

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