What jobs are harder than being prime minister, according to Britons?

Fintan SmithPolitical Research Executive
January 13, 2023, 1:10 PM GMT+0

Being a surgeon tops the list, while Britons are most likely to say being a professional football player is easier

The prime minister of the United Kingdom makes £164,080 a year, five times the median salary for a full time employee in the UK (£32,280 per year). While the job of prime minister pays much more than most occupations, how do Britons believe it compares to other jobs in terms of difficulty?

Britons say doctors, nurses, firefighters and soldiers, among others, have a harder job than the PM

Of the 24 roles asked about, Britons are most likely to believe that being a surgeon is harder than being PM. Six in ten (61%) are convinced that it is more difficult to be a surgeon than prime minister, with only 17% believing that being a surgeon is easier.

Though surgeons are well-paid, taking home up to £114,083 per year, this is still significantly lower than the PM’s salary.

After surgeons, Britons are most likely to believe nurses to have it tougher than the PM, with 52% believing nursing to be harder and 29% believing nursing to be easier. A majority also believe being a firefighter (51%) or a soldier (51%) to be harder than being PM with 29% and 28% respectively believing these roles to be easier.

By smaller margins Britons also believe it is harder to be a GP than PM (by 45% to 32%), or an army general (41% vs 26%).

Britons are divided when it comes to how hard social workers, police officers and farmers have it compared to the PM

There are three roles that Britons are divided over whether they are easier or harder than being prime minister. In each case, about four in ten people say they are either more simple or more difficult than running the country: social worker (40% harder, 39% easier), police officer (41% vs 39%) and farmer (42% vs 39%).

Compared to other executive and leadership roles, being PM is harder, say Britons

In some ways, being prime minister is like running a large business, in that it involves managing complicated organisations staffed by large numbers of people. And, indeed, being CEO of a large company is the job Britons are most likely to describe as being about as difficult as being PM, at 22%.

Nevertheless, a plurality of Britons (43%) believe being CEO of a large company to be an easier job than being PM, while a similar number (44%) say the same of running a small business.

In fact, the results imply Britons tend to think small business owners have it harder than CEOs, with 35% believing running a small firm to be harder than being PM compared to 20% who say the same of running a large firm.

Being the leader of a council, a job that is smaller in scope but in some cases is paid in excess of £250,000 per year, more than the PM, is believed to be a less difficult role by a large majority of Britons (64%).

Britons are most likely to see being a premier league footballer as being easier than running the country

Of the 24 roles we asked about, a majority consider ten to be easier than being prime minister. Britons are most likely to believe that being a professional footballer is easier than being PM (81%), with only 7% believing being a footballer to be harder.

Being an office worker (75%), waiter (74%) or supermarket worker (74%) are also rated to be easier than being PM by three quarters of Britons, with relatively few (no more than 14% for any of the three positions) believing the roles to be harder than PM. A majority also believe being a journalist (73%), cleaner (72%), chef (67%), or investment banker (64%) to be an easier role than being PM.

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