What will I earn in a career in public service?
Starting pay in public service typically ranges from £24,000 to £30,000 for graduate schemes and is between £15,000 and £23,000 for the small number of higher apprenticeship programmes available. Location is a big factor; London-based schemes typically have higher salaries, reflecting the higher cost of living in the capital.
Pay is broadly on a par with the private sector and there is good potential to progress to higher earnings. However, those with specific technical or professional skills – software developers and lawyers, for example – may be able to earn more from the outset working for a commercial organisation.
Starting salaries for school leaver programmes in public service
The minimum salary for the Civil Service fast track apprenticeship scheme is £19,500; for the Civil Service operational delivery apprenticeship it is a minimum of £15,000. Pay varies for both schemes depending on your location and the department you join.
The technical apprenticeship with MI5, MI6 and GCHQ has been reported as having a starting salary of around £17,000.
The National Audit Office school leaver programme offers a starting salary of £23,060 in London and £17,542 in Newcastle.
Apprenticeships with local authorities typically offer a starting salary of between £10,000 and £15,000, depending on the level of qualifications required. For example, Oxford County Council has offered a business administration apprentice role, open to school leavers from specific local schools aged 16 to 20, with a starting salary of around £10,400 and the chance to progress to just over £15,400. Kent County Council’s accountancy trainee scheme has a starting salary of £14,527, which will progress to around £28,000 over the six years of training.
Salaries in local government are related to a national pay scale and vary according to your role and seniority. A housing officer might expect to earn around £24,000, while an office administrator might be paid around £17,000.
Starting salaries for graduates in public service
The Civil Service Fast Stream starting pay is between £25,000 and £27,000, depending on which programme you join.
HM Revenue & Customs pays a minimum of £27,045 to graduates joining its tax professional programme, rising to £29,256 if they are based in London.
The National Audit Office pays its London-based graduate trainees £27,432, while those in Newcastle start on £21,825.
The Government Legal Service pays trainee lawyers £23,900−£25,000 in the first year.
The National Government Development Programme (ngdp), the national graduate scheme for local authorities, offers a starting salary of £22,958 plus inner or outer London weighting.
Kent County Council management and finance graduate trainees both start on £23,573.
The Lancashire County Council graduate scheme pays a starting salary of between around £17,000 and £19,000.
The starting salary for the MI5 intelligence officer development programme is £28,821, though if you perform exceptionally well in the recruitment process you could start on £35,866. The intelligence and data analyst programme also offers a salary of £28,821. The technology graduate development programme has a starting salary of £31,605.
MI6 does not run a set of defined graduate schemes and salary varies depending on the role you apply for, but is likely to be in the £25,000–£30,000 range. This is the starting pay offered to Mandarin Chinese language specialists, a role open to both graduates and non-graduates.
The GCHQ future leaders programme offers a starting salary of £30,911.