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Totaljobs Peak Earnings Predictor: New tool benchmarks UK salaries across a range of factors

The Peak Earnings Predictor uses Totaljobs’ salary data to pinpoint the age that people will hit their highest earnings, depending on a range of factors including education, gender, location and industry. Alongside this tool, recruiters and managers now have access to our Salary Report 2021 and ten sector specific guides, allowing you to benchmark salaries against industry averages, calculate competitive offers to attract top talent and inform your rewards strategy.

The Peak Earnings Predictor reflects the UK job market and the salaries on offer, which can act as a as a reference point for recruiters looking for timely data on the average salaries across the market, or a benchmarking tool for anyone curious about what their career path will mean for their pockets during their lifetime.

What is ‘Peak Earnings’?

‘Peak earnings’ is the age when you earn the highest wage relative to the hours you’ve worked. Typically, higher salaries are unlocked in the middle of a career – but that’s not always the case.

On average, UK workers can expect to achieve peak earnings at the age of 46, but a range of factors impact how high a salary could climb and at what age an employee will hit it. These include a combination of experience, company history, industry, location, education level and gender.

After hitting peak salary, Totaljobs data shows that an individual’s earnings slowly start decreasing until retirement.

Which factors influence an individual’s peak earnings?


Women in the UK hit their peak earnings at the age of 40. This means that women’s salaries start falling, or stalling, earlier than men’s – whose salaries continue to rise for a further four years. This creates a gap in average peak salary of £8,122 between men and women.

However, at the beginning of their career, it is women who access higher salaries, with their peak salary at age 21 being £22,862 versus £22,231 for men.

Education level

With a higher level of education comes access to higher salaries. Employees with a master’s degree can expect to reach a salary peak of £64,693 at the age of 62, which is £21,845 more than those who didn’t go to university.

Those who have earned a doctorate get a further boost in earnings, reaching peak salary eight years before their counterparts with a bachelor’s degree, and pocketing £16,373 a year more.


Historically, the higher costs of living in London have translated to higher salaries for the people who work there. Our salary data echoes this, with Londoners hitting a peak salary of £63,508 at age 47. The North East is the region where peak earnings are the lowest, at £39,617 at the age of 48.


The industry someone carves their career in also has an impact on their peak earnings. Finance, technology and media are the sectors that top the list for peak earnings, with people working in finance earning £72, 361 on average at the age of 64, technology staff earning £64,530 at the same age, and media experts hitting their peak a year later, at £63,861.

In comparison, transport, services and goods are the sectors where peak earnings are reached at a younger age, with the lowest earning potential.

Download the salary guides

We’ve packaged up an overview of UK salary averages in the Totaljobs Salary Report 2021 alongside ten sector specific salary guides coming at the end of June 2021 (that’s construction, consumer goods, education, finance, government, health, manufacturing, services, transport and technology), to help managers and recruiters make better decisions when it comes to compensation and reward. Take a look:

About the research

Data from 37,506 entries into Totaljobs’ Salary Planner questionnaire between June 2018 and September 2020.

Looking at the data by the region, industry, role and education categories reduces the sample size of each line on the graph. This sometimes shows a natural volatility in the data based on fewer numbers of people making up the averages. There are also a low number of respondents who identified as a gender other than male or female. Consequently, the exact figures might not be representative but the data shows the overall trend.

We’ve used a three-year rolling average for salaries, in order to better show the trends in the data. This means that for a given age, we show the average salary for that age and the two previous years.