Best places uk for a tradesperson

Best City to be a Tradesperson

An increasing amount of young people in the UK are choosing not to apply to university. Instead, they could be using their skills and tools to ‘bring home the bacon’. In fact, last year, a huge 26,000 university places were on offer through the clearing system, showing that the trade alternatives could be a future option for many.

Whether you are sparking an interest in being an electrician or building a passion for bricklaying, the UK has plenty of opportunities to get you started on an exciting and prosperous career. But which city is ‘the one’ to do this in?

Thinking of going into a trade in the UK? We’ve combined various figures for the top 40 most populated UK cities so you can discover the place that could be the ticket to your dream trade.  Van at the ready? Hands steady?….

Full table
Best places

The South East looks like the place to be as a tradesperson. Reading taking the top spot, with Portsmouth just slightly behind. The town is a major commercial centre and is even ranked the UK’s top area for economic success and wellbeing, according to factors such as health, income and skills. With around 30.6 jobs in trade available per 10,000 people, this area provides the pick of the bunch for employment. Not only would you have the chance of bagging yourself a great job - and quickly - but you could be paid an average salary of £27,191 for it too. However, if you are looking to set up your own business, the low business survival rate may put you off.

Just under 70 miles away, staying in the South East is Portsmouth - the #2 place to earn a living in a trade. 7.9 startups (per 10,000 people) survive here, there are more than enough jobs to take your pick from, and you'll even walk away with a more-than-comfortable wage.

A hidden gem for budding tradespeople could be Middlesbrough. While the business survival rate and available jobs in trade aren’t anything to grumble about, there's one surprising factor - the number of exciting educational opportunities. If you are seeking to become an electrician, plasterer, welder or plumber, Middlesbrough could hold the key. With 17.1 higher education courses available (per 10,000 people), this may be the next step in your exciting career.

Where are the worst places to earn a living in a trade in the UK?

If you are looking to put your tradesman skills and business drive to use, then Belfast could be the city to avoid. With an average salary of only £22,016, you may feel like your wallet isn’t reflecting your skills and hard work. Not only this, but you may have a hard time even finding employment. The opportunities are limited, with only 0.3 jobs per 10,000 people).

However, unlike some cities on the list, Belfast’s business survival rate isn't too bad! In fact, 6.1 businesses flourish and achieve great trade in the city.

The second worst place to be a tradesperson is Glasgow. While this city thrives in other ways, perhaps it's not the ideal place to kickstart your trade. Only 1.7 businesses survive in the city and there are only around 1.1 job opportunities in building and construction - so either way, you may struggle. While the wage isn't too bad, you may find it difficult to get your dream trade job to begin with.

The third worst place to be a tradesperson is Plymouth. With business survivors in the negative, a lower salary of £24,852 and only 0.3 employment opportunities, ‘Britain's Ocean City’  may not be the ideal choice. However, the seaside location could be a great place to gain some new-found trades knowledge. With 4.97 higher education opportunities per 10,000 people, it's not all doom and gloom for budding tradespeople here.

Best city

If you have always dreamt of starting a business in trade and having your logo, name and brand on your very own van, Manchester could be the spot for you. Out of the 8,460 business startups, only around 76 failed, meaning per 10,000, a huge 78 survive - and thrive! Every other factor follows on in a positive trail. There’s more than enough higher education options to train up some apprentices, your online advertising costs won't cost you too much and the average regional salary isn't one to grumble at.

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Sources and Methodology

We looked into 40 of the most populated cities from the UK, normalised the results and reached an overall weighted ranking score out of 100 for each city.

The figures for business startups, business closures, overall business survivals, jobs in trade and available college courses are worked out per 10,000 people in order to provide a more comparable figure across figures.


To compile this information, we started with the top most populated cities in the UK.

Business startups, closures and survivals

For each of the cities, we found the number of business startups and closures within the year through the Office of National Statistics. This data set is taken from table 1.1b and 2.1b from 2017. From this information, we reached an overall amount for business survivals.

Jobs in trade

Jobs available in trade were found using glassdoor using the search term ‘Construction’. The search criteria was narrowed down to within a 25-mile radius of the city and filtered by ‘Building and Construction’ industry and ‘Posted any time’. Data was collected July 2019 and may be subject to change.

Available college courses

The available higher education courses were sourced via the National Careers Service and were specifically found using the search term ‘Construction’. The figure also includes online courses, class-based, work-based and distance learning courses.

Average tradesperson salaries

Using the Office for National Statistics’ 2018 provisional annual gross pay of table 15.7a [Work Region Occupation SOC 10] we took the annual median pay of jobs within ‘Skilled trades occupations’. This is by region only.

Average online advertising costs

The advertising costs were generated from Google. The three terms ‘plumber in [Insert location]’, ‘electrician in [Insert location] and ‘builder in [Insert location]’ were used to find each cost. An overall average was then worked out from these three terms to reach the final number. Any missing data was assigned a cost of £0.00 as a representation of the low pricing. This is the average cost per click on Google.