London – Making A Living In The Big Smoke

Given that it covers more than 1,500 square kilometres and has a population almost three times that of Scotland, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the idea of moving to London to make your fortune was out of date, but you’d be wrong. London truly is the beating heart of the Country and with new projects and incentives attracting new investment to the city all the time, it may be worth braving the challenges of the ‘Big Smoke’ with an eye on the long term rewards.

London’s Stock Exchange is great example of the Capital’s power. It’s the largest in Europe and more than half of the FTSE 100 companies are headquartered in the city centre. Going further out, you’ll find that 70% of the FTSE 100 can be found in the city’s metropolitan areas. The amount of wealth to be found in London is unprecedented in the UK but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities for Service-leavers to make their mark in this competitive, business-minded city.

Due to the sheer size of Greater London (it stretches almost as far as Epsom in the south, to Watford in the north and Dartford in the east), the region boasts every type of job you could possibly think of. To adequately cover the range of jobs and locations available to Service-leavers in the Capital, we would need an entire magazine given over to the subject so – as a starter for 10 – here are some sectors which are booming in the London mega-economy.


Service-leavers may not seem like a natural fit for the media industry but with some retooling of your CV and some extra training, a career in London’s media heartland could be for you. Noted as being the second most competitive industry in the city, the skills and personal development which Service-leavers come out with – dedication, commitment, reliability – could be an ideal starting point for taking your first steps on the media ladder.

With most of the UK’s major media outlets based in the city, you’d have your pick of the crop with everything from the major TV broadcasters: BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Sky, to every major national newspaper and even a slew of production companies and Hollywood studios that have made the city their UK base. The Armed Forces may have inspired your creative side and this industry is well-placed to nurture it.

Entry level media jobs often start at between £20,000 and £25,000 with fast track promotions available for those who leave an immediate impression on their employer.


According to Deloitte’s Winter 2015 London Office Crane Survey, there are currently 11.1 million square metres of office space under construction in central London, meaning that the demand for qualified men and women in the construction industry is certainly on the up.

The survey found that 77 major office construction projects are underway in the city and this figure is expected to increase year-on-year until 2019. These are not just tiny office blocks which will be completed within a few months either, many of these massive projects are set to change London’s skyline forever with more and more skyscrapers in planning and development right across the city. This is before residential and infrastructure projects are even taken into account.

Of course, it’s not just construction that’s booming. Those with an appetite for destruction will be pleased to hear that – as a result of this construction boom – the demolition industry is also doing well with demand having increased by 25% since the summer of 2015. More than 6.4 million square feet of office space alone is currently being demolished, the equivalent of more than 10 Shards!

A graduate with Balfour Beatty can expect to earn between £24,500 and £27,000. Balfour Beatty is the largest construction contractor in the UK and currently employs around 36,000 people worldwide.

Financial Services

The City of London is one of the world’s great cities of finance and those wishing to make their fortune in this highly competitive environment may find that there has never been a better time to get into financial services. The Centre for Cities and Cambridge Econometrics’ forecasts employment in the City will rise from 396,800 (2014 level) to 435,700 by 2025, meaning that one in 10 new jobs created in the nation’s capital will be connected with the financial services industry. This equates to a projected output of £37 billion by 2025, reflecting the highly productive and dedicated workforce which, with the personal development experience offered by the Armed Forces, may well be the perfect environment for a motivated Service-leaver.

According to, the typical basic starting salary for trainee financial traders ranges from around £26,000 to £32,000, plus commission. This can skyrocket with more experienced traders earning anything from £45,000 to well over £150,000 plus commission every year.

Estate Agency

Although it may not seem like the most obvious career choice for someone moving to London, Service-leavers with the right personality might find themselves enjoying a successful career on the back of London’s housing boom.

It is no secret that house prices in central London have exploded over the last decade but with more than 2,600 estate agents in the city, which equates to approximately 83 per borough. Estate agency could be a very lucrative career choice indeed.

In exclusive Kensington and Chelsea, estate agents made more than £73 million in 2014 and across the city the total figure was more than £1 billion. The property market in London often sees properties bought or rented within days of being listed, meaning that success rates for agents are high and it is an excellent time to learn the trade.

Although the starting salary for estate agents may be low (often less than £20,000), committed and talented agents can boost that figure hugely thanks to commission on individual sales which is usually around 10% of the agents’ fee, and bonuses which are awarded based on monthly, quarterly and annual targets. Many estate agents in top London agencies are known to make £60,000 pa.

Yeoman Warders

It may not be a booming industry but those leaving the Armed Forces with a desire to do something entirely unique and linked to their background may want to keep an eye out for opportunities with the Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary, or Beefeaters as they’re more commonly known.

The Yeoman Warders only hire very occasionally and have strict entry requirements. Applicants must be former Senior Warrant Officers or Petty Officers with 22 years’ Service and hold the Long Service and Good Conduct medals. Joining the ranks of this ancient order entitles you to live at one of the most exclusive addresses in the world:

The Tower of London
London, England

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