Ten surprisingly well-paid jobs in Wales


It’s a common misconception that to land a well-paid job, you have to go to university.

While degrees are essential in some roles, such as being a doctor for instance, getting a degree isn’t always the be-all and end-all. In fact, sometimes all you need is a hard work ethic, being prepared to work through the ranks and, in some cases, a very strong stomach.

Often times, some of the most important and overlooked jobs come with the juiciest salaries – take for instance bin men drivers in Wales who can earn up to £24,174.

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Here are 10 other jobs that come with what you might think are surprisingly decent salaries.

Embalmer (up to £36,318)

Embalming and funeral directing comes with a good salary, if you feel up for it
(Image: Rob Browne/Walesonline)

What does the job involve?

Working with dead bodies, basically. Embalmers work to preserve the body from decaying by injecting chemicals such as formaldehyde into the body through the arterial system to make the body appear more peaceful and natural, which can comfort grieving families. One body usually takes 2-4 hours.

How much can I make?

Senior embalmers in Wales make on average £36,318 per year, according to Salary Expert. The average salary is £29,577 per year, and if you take on funeral directing as well as embalming, you can expect a steeper average salary of £53,929 each year.

Do I have what it takes?

Job vacancies listed on Coop Funeral care list ‘emotional maturity’ and a ‘can-do’ attitude for a role like this. You don’t need any GCSEs or a degree to become an embalmer, but you will need to undertake a course that’s recognised by the British Institute of Embalmers.

Plumber (up to £60,000)

What does it involve?

Plumbers are responsible for ensuring that drainage and water systems are functioning correctly, and it can involve duties such as joining pipes and fitting, responding to emergency boiler breakdowns and floods, and installing hot and cold water systems. (Fun fact: the word ‘plumbing’ comes from the Latin word ‘plumbum’, meaning lead, because early piping systems were made of lead.)

Read more: ‘My dad told me to marry a plumber so I became one myself’

How much can I make?

Go Construct reported that senior plumbers could earn up to £60,000, and newly trained plumbers £25,000. Watkin and Walker Ltd is currently offering vacancie s in Pontypool for plumbers with competitive salaries ranging from £850 – £1,400 per week. Many plumbers are self-employed, which gives you the ability to set your own wage.

Do I have what it takes?

Becoming a plumber doesn’t require a degree, but you will need to undertake an apprenticeship in order to qualify, as well as an NVQ Level 2. Careers Wales offer lots of support for those looking for a plumbing apprenticeship.

Private Butler (up to £150,000)

What does it involve?

Well, if preserving the deceased or fixing water pipes isn’t quite your thing, a private butler role might be perfect for you. According to, the butler is ‘like a button that holds the family together’, and depending on the employing family, modern private butlers are typically expected to understand home security systems, clean the home, organise stock, pay the bills and even help to arrange social family events. Good knowledge of wines and spirits may also be required.

How much can I expect to make?

Sara Vestin, director of the British Butler Academy, told the Guardian in 2014 that private butlers could make up to £90,000 in the UK, and up to £150,000 per year if they were very experienced. Some posts currently advertised around the UK offer salaries of around £30,000 through agencies, but the roles can often include board, too.

Do I have what it takes?

Butler roles are based more on hospitality experience rather than qualifications – although there are courses in butler skills that can help improve your chances. Speaking a second language is often a good selling point, as well as formal knowledge of social and dining etiquette. ‘Patience’, ‘concentration’ and ‘attention to detail’ are desired qualities in a private butler, according to

Wine advisor/waiter (up to £42,000)

Upscale restaurant jobs typically come with a healthy tip jar, too
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

What does it involve?

To be a wine-waiter or ‘sommelier’, you’ll be expected to have an extensive knowledge of wines, grapes and wine-regions. Sommeliers typically work in upscale hotels, restaurants or bars, and their chief role is to advise on which wine will pair best with food, develop wine lists, and take responsibility for maintaining the cleanliness and presentation of the wine glasses.

How much can I expect to make?

It depends on the venue, but there are current vacancies open in Saundersfoot for £36,000 per year, and the Beach House Hotel restaurant in Oxwich is currently looking for a Head Sommelier to build a list of ‘fascinating wines with a story that truly reflects [their] food and ethos’ – with a salary of £42,000 (in addition to roughly £10,000 per year in tips!)

Do I have what it takes?

Similar to the butler role, sommelier roles often rely more on experience than qualification, and experience at Michelin star restaurants is preferred. According to Careers Wales, there are currently 750 sommelier roles available across Wales, suited to individuals with ‘the stamina to be on your feet a lot’, as well as excellent customer service and communication skills. There are also courses available through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust to improve your wine knowledge.

Ethical Hacker (£30,000-£90,000)

Ethical hackers play a crucial role in ensuring networks are secure
(Image: Tomasz Zajda –

What does it involve?

‘Ethical’ hackers are typically employed by companies who want to see how easily their systems can be hacked. Ethical hacking jobs are often Government jobs, but private companies also frequently hire them too.

How much can I expect to make?

It’s common knowledge that tech jobs are well-paid, and ethical hackers can make up to £90,000 across the UK. The average in Wales is £60,000, and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is currently looking for a ‘Cyber Security Vulnerability Analyst’ in Newport with a starting salary of £30,000, in addition to a £3,000 allowance.

Do I have what it takes?

Hacking is no easy task – particularly when you’re put to the test. Ethical jackers will typically hold a degree in information technology, computer science or a similar subject, and will be fluent in computer languages such as Python or Java. Knowledge and experience with network security is also essential.

Sewer flusher (up to £45,000)

A Dwr Cymru sewer operative at work, ensuring the water works are running smoothly

What does…


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