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New Study Reveals the Best Careers for an Early Retirement

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New research has revealed the best industries for an early retirement, some of which will allow you to retire two decades early.

  • Commercial managers, taxation experts, and construction managers allow for the earliest retirement, with employees able to retire nearly 20 years ahead of the national retirement age.

  • Product managers retire with the most savings, with savings hitting £270,000 at the age of just 46.

  • Promotions and pay rises are most common in marketing, with an average salary increase at different stages of your career of close to £13,500.

To get a better understanding of the professions that are best for early retirement, the experts at Our Life Plan have conducted a study to reveal which industries have the highest chances of early retirement. 

The research looked at a combination of metrics across 40 different careers to determine how our job role and industry of work can affect the age at which we retire. Metrics include years of training and qualification, salary increases at different stages of your career, and the potential savings you could have for your pension pot. 

Commercial managers, taxation experts, and construction managers come out on top with the possibility of retiring as early as 46 years young.

Top 10 best industries to retire young

Analysing the potential pay development of different roles over a 20+ year period showed that saving for the future is far easier in some industries than in others. 

A total of four professions allows for retirement at the age of just 46 – commercial managers, taxation experts, construction managers, and product managers. Employees in these job roles could find themselves retiring nearly 20 years earlier than their state pension would allow.

This was closely followed by professionals working in marketing, project management, or IT management, allowing for retirement at age 47. 


Age you could retire


Commercial manager



Taxation expert



Construction manager



Product manager



IT manager



Project manager






Financial analyst






Programmer analyst 


In fact, all jobs within the top 10 have the advantage of requiring no formal qualifications upon entry to the role. This means you could get into them straight after school and start saving for your pension as young as 18.

Highly qualified career paths could negatively impact retirement age

Careers that require a high amount of training, despite their generally higher than average salary, could mean that you might find yourself retiring later.

Doctors take an average of nine years to qualify, psychologists take eight years, and architects take seven. Each of these career paths means you’ll be entering the workforce fully qualified at a later age, and will be aged 25–27 once you’re on your entry-level salary. 

Doctors (GPs) just miss out on making the top 10 due to the average qualification period of nine years for this career path. Starting salary for this job role will likely be around the £40,000 mark, but it will take you close to a decade to get there.

That said, these highly qualified careers do offer a higher than average starting salary and strong career progression within the role too. If becoming a doctor is your thing, you could be retiring at age 49, psychologists and architects fall close behind with both offering retirement at age 51. 

Pay rise packages: The careers that pay to stay

When entering the workforce, you may examine starting salaries, but what about how much you could gain throughout years of service? 

Marketing professionals see the steepest incline in pay with an average increase of £13,475. But this career is on the lower end when it comes to the starting salary, with an average of just £18,561. Thanks to recurrent pay rises, you could end up with a salary of £72,400 after 20 years of working.

Doctors, once fully qualified, are also partial to a few pay rises. On average, doctors can expect an increase of £11,759 at each stage of their career. This job path paves the way for the highest salaries in the study, with an average salary of £88,000 within two decades. 

On the other side of this, finance officers and travel agents both saw less than a £1,000 pay rise across 20 years. This puts them at the bottom of the overall ranking with retirees reaching the age of 54 and 56 respectively. 

Act now to enjoy later

Ricky Lee, CEO of money management app sync., says: ‘The retirement age keeps going up in the UK, so you need to make serious plans if you want to retire before you hit 60. The most important thing is to stay debt-free or pay off any debts as a priority. Then focus on buying a property and paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible. Early retirement is only realistic if you don’t need to pay rent or your mortgage anymore.’

Chris Reed from Protect Line stresses the importance of insurances: ‘Chances are you’re now under- or over-protected. As our circumstances change, it’s important to ensure your protection policies are still relevant. We would never forget to change our car insurance when we buy a new car. Yet, many people forget to review their life insurance, critical illness cover, and income protection when their circumstances change. 

‘Now you’ve reached your goal of retiring, chances are you’re going to have different needs. Many people want to reduce their outgoings once they’ve retired. Sometimes protection can be a simple place to start. However, don’t be too hasty. New protection policies increase in price the older you are. It’s worth evaluating what a new policy may cost to cover things like funeral expenses before you decide what you would like to do with your old policy.

‘You may think that it’s too early to think about funeral costs. Remember, your price is based on your age (and health) when you take the policy. Stalling now may cost you later.’

Ian Wright at Our Life Plan adds: ‘Saving for your pension is often not at the forefront of many people’s minds, particularly at the very beginning of your career. Employer contributions to your pension generally sit at 3%, meaning that you’ll need to think about saving a lot outside of this for a comfortable retirement. We hope that our research brings to light how even your career choice could affect the age at which you can retire. And who isn’t after an early retirement?’

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