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Which? University – List of Job Profiles and Career Ideas
January 2, 2020

Have a dream job in mind? See what it takes to get there with Which? University comprehensive guides…

Whether you want to crunch numbers as an accountant or dabble with danger as a firefighter, these job profiles equip you with the insider knowledge you need to begin your journey into your chosen career.

Not sure yet? Consider it a job ideas list!

Here’s what you’ll learn from our guides to popular job roles:

  • What to expect
  • Education and qualifications
  • Average starting salaries 
  • Career progression
  • Where to find job vacancies 
  • PLUS: tips and advice from real people in those job roles

So, what do you want to be? Pick a job from our list of careers:

How to become an accountant

Can you build professional relationships with people and demonstrate integrity, business awareness and analytical skills?

Accountants benefit from above-average salaries, plenty of choice around how to specialise and professional qualifications that are recognised internationally.

How to become an accountant – full guide here.

How to become a counsellor

Do you want to not only make a significant positive impact on people’s lives, but also ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of our society too?

With mental health issues and general life stress becoming more widely talked about, a non-judgemental, listening ear can do more than make someone feel better – it can help turn people’s lives around.

How to become a counsellor – full guide here.

How to become a firefighter

Firefighters aren’t always fighting fires – do you want to use your problem-solving initiative to tackle a wide range of emergency situations, including rescuing people and animals, and administering first aid?

Firefighters frequently talk of it taking many attempts before you’re successful. Luckily, we’ve gathered expert tips from a real firefighter.

How to become a firefighter – full guide here.

How to become a paramedic

Are you excited by the idea of dealing with life-and-death situations – helping people who may or may not appreciate your service – while navigating traffic jams when every second counts?

As any viewer of the BBC television series Ambulance will know, being a paramedic is not for the faint-hearted, but it can change lives. 

How to become a paramedic – full guide here.

  • We talk to a doctor and nurse to find out what it’s really like to work in the medical profession.
How to become a pilot

Would you thrive on the excitement of flying a commercial aircraft, combined with the responsibility that comes with the job?

Pilots are paid salaries that are well above average, and they can benefit from perks such as cheap airline tickets and overnight stays in holiday destinations.

How to become a pilot – full guide here.

  • Plus, we talk to a pilot about her day job flying around the world.
How to become a police officer

Dealing with criminals on a daily basis, unsociable hours and dangerous scenarios – does a challenging but rewarding career as a police officer appeal to you?

A career in the police force offers a healthy salary, plenty of opportunity for progression and, like paramedics above, the chance to make a real difference in the community when the worst happens. But, equally, it regularly demands anti-social hours and is a potentially stressful profession.

How to become a police officer – full guide here.

How to become a social worker

Are you genuinely interested in understanding social or emotional disadvantage, discrimination, poverty and trauma, and making a difference?

Social workers learn to remain calm and build relationships with people in sometimes stressful situations, understand new circumstances quickly – which may involve legal and financial information – and help people to be as happy as possible in their lives. 

How to become a social worker – full guide here.

Government Announces Pay Rise for 2.8 Million People
January 2, 2020

National Living Wage set to increase by 6.2% in 2020.

  • Annual pay rise of up to £930 for a full time worker.
  • National Living Wage (NLW) increasing from £8.21 to £8.72.
  • New NLW rate starts on 1 April 2020 and applies to over 25 years olds.

The national minimum wage for apprentices is to increase by four times the rate of inflation in April, the prime minister has announced. The official minimum wage for apprentices currently stands at £3.90 per hour, but in April it will increase by 6.4 per cent to £4.15.

Low-paid workers will receive a 6.2% pay rise with a new National Living Wage (NLW) of £8.72 per hour, the biggest cash increase ever, the Government has announced.

Nearly 3 million workers are set to benefit from the increases to the NLW and minimum wage rates for younger workers, according to estimates from the independent Low Pay Commission. The rise means Government is on track to meet its current target for the NLW to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020.

The new rate starts on 1 April 2020 and results in an increase of £930 over the year for a full-time worker on the National Living Wage. Younger workers who receive the National Minimum Wage will also see their pay boosted with increases of between 4.6% and 6.5%, dependant on their age, with 21-24 year olds seeing a 6.5% increase from £7.70 to £8.20 an hour.

The Government has fully accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations after they consulted stakeholders such as unions, businesses and academics, before recommending the NLW and NMW rates to the Government. In September the Chancellor pledged to increase the NLW towards a new target of two-thirds of median earnings by 2024, provided economic conditions allow, which, on current forecasts, would make it around £10.50 per hour.

The introduction of the NLW has already delivered the fastest pay rise for the lowest earners in 20 years, putting more cash into the pockets of those who need it the most. Supported by the NLW, the lowest paid saw their wages grow by 8% above inflation between April 2015 and April 2018.

The Chancellor has also announced his plans to expand the reach of the National Living Wage to cover workers aged 23 and over from April 2021, and to those aged 21 and over within five years. This is expected to benefit around 4 million low paid workers.

The Government will set out more details on the future policy framework, including the important role of the independent Low Pay Commission, by the Spring.

Further information

2020 NMW/NLW rates increases

The increased rates were recommended by the Low Pay Commission, an independent body that advises the government about the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage.

The National Living Wage (for over 25 year olds) will increase 6.2% from £8.21 to £8.72.

The National Minimum Wage will rise across all age groups, including

  • A 6.5% increase from £7.70 to £8.20 for 21-24 year olds
  • A 4.9% increase from £6.15 to £6.45 for 18-20 year olds
  • A 4.6% increase from £4.35 to £4.55 for Under 18s
  • A 6.4% increase from £3.90 to £4.15 for Apprentices

The £930 increase in annual earnings compares the gross annual earnings of a person working 35 hours per week on the new NLW rate from April (£8.72) versus the 2018/19 NLW rate (£8.21). The £3,680 increase in annual earnings compares the gross annual earnings of a person working 35 hours per week on the new NLW rate from April (£8.72) versus the 2015/16 minimum wage rate (£6.70).