What are the highest paid jobs in Scottish manufacturing?

Looking for a new job in the manufacturing sector? Read on to find out which specialities pay the highest wages.

The Ineos plant at Grangemouth. Refinery workers command the highest manufacturing salaries in Scotland. Picture: Greg Macvean
The Ineos plant at Grangemouth. Refinery workers command the highest manufacturing salaries in Scotland. Picture: Greg Macvean

Latest official figures may show that Scotland’s manufacturing sector suffered a fall in output last year, but workers in the industry are leading their UK counterparts in the pay stakes.

Professionals working in science, research, engineering and technology command an average salary of £42,644 – ahead of the UK figure of £42,146 – according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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Delving deeper into the statistics, they reveal that the highest manufacturing salaries are to be found in the refining sector, despite the downturn hitting the North Sea oil and gas industry due to plunging crude prices.

Average annual earnings in the field of “coke and refined petroleum products” come in at £47,125 – down 11.4 per cent from 2014 but still more than £20,000 higher than the typical Scottish salary of £26,417 for all workers.

That compares with an average salary of £30,946 across Scottish manufacturing, which contributed £12.5 billion to the economy in 2013 and is dominated by the food and drink industries.

The field of “food, beverages and tobacco products” makes up almost a third of the entire manufacturing sector, with those in the drinks arena earning £35,591 on average – some way in front of the figure for food products, which stands at £20,287.

After refining, the highest salaries are to be found in the pharmaceuticals, machinery and equipment and chemicals sectors, where average annual pay packets are all above £36,000.

Official figures last month revealed that the Scottish manufacturing sector contracted by 1.3 per cent during the third quarter of 2015, dragged down by sharp falls across metals, machinery, refined petroleum and chemicals.

The latest purchasing managers’ index from the Bank of Scotland also said that job cuts were evident among manufacturers, pointing to a combination of higher wage costs and the downturn in the oil industry.

Alasdair Gardner, the lender’s regional managing director for commercial banking, said: “Growth in Scotland’s private sector remained in a low gear during the first month of 2016 as service providers continued to outperform their manufacturing counterparts.

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“Challenging market conditions in the oil and gas sector allowed for only a slight rise in incoming new business levels whilst job shedding accelerated to a six-month high.”


£47,125 – coke and refined petroleum products

£38,794 – basic pharmaceutical products and preparations

£36,780 – machinery and equipment (not elsewhere classified)

£36,556 – chemicals and chemical products

£35,591 – beverages

£35,479 – computer, electronic and optical products

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£35,278 – basic metals

£33,330 – other transport equipment

£32,826 – fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment

£30,648 – wood and cork products, except furniture

Source: Office for National Statistics