Spy Salaries Uncovered: Could You Afford to Live Like James Bond?

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Even though it’s delayed until November, with the expected release of the 25th James Bond instalment, No Time to Die, you might be thinking of a new career with the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6. Current Bond Daniel Craig makes the life of a spy look seriously glamorous.

But where would you start out working as a secret agent? We looked at SIS job listings to uncover spy salaries and discovered if you could really afford to live like James Bond and his co-workers.

James Bond – Intelligence Agent

Starting salary with the SIS: £42,700 per year

Before joining the SIS, Bond was a Royal Navy Reserve Commander, where he would have earned £85,997 a year, according to the Armed Forces pay scales.

But you’ll need to climb the ladder before earning as much as 007. After passing training, new members of the Royal Navy can expect to earn £20,000.

If you want more, you can go direct to the SIS and apply to be an Intelligence Officer. They’re offering £42,700 a year, leaving you with £2,714 a month after tax.

Would that leave you with enough to live the life of James Bond? His luxury £2 million Chelsea home is out of the question, but you could afford to live in London, as the average rent price for a normal area costs £1,904 a month.

As for Bond’s car, the latest Aston Martin Valhalla seen in No Time to Die is expected to be worth a huge £1 million. While getting behind the wheel of this hypercar would be far too expensive, you could still drive a luxury car as an SIS Intelligence Officer. Spending 10% of your monthly salary would let you drive a brand-new Audi A3 or Jaguar E-Pace.

Don’t forget you’ll need £10 – the average price of a London cocktail – to drink Bond’s favourite Martini (shaken, not stirred).

Q – Quartermaster

Starting salary with the SIS: £24,420 per year

Q is the SIS’s Quartermaster, who is in charge of the fictional research and development division for the SIS. Currently played by Ben Whishaw, Q delivers the high-tech gadgets which Bond uses on his missions.

While Q’s department is imagined for the Bond franchise, you can still work in technology for the real SIS. You can currently apply to be an Infrastructure Engineering Apprentice with a salary of £24,420.

With a monthly take-home pay of £1,679 after tax, you might struggle to afford to live in central London, where the role is based. You’re also more likely to take the tube rather than drive a fancy car.

Miss Moneypenny – Secretary

Starting salary with the SIS: £29,832 per year

Miss Moneypenny is secretary to M, the Head of the SIS. Moneypenny has a varying job throughout the Bond franchise. We see her as a field agent in recent films, played by Naomie Harris, before returning to her desk duties.

If an ever-changing role sounds up your street, apply to be a SIS Business Support Officer. It’s described as a diverse job where ‘you could be working in a team supporting intelligence gathering or in a team that ensures the smooth running of the Service.’

You would be offered a salary of £29,832, giving you £1,985 post-tax in your pocket each month. Like Q, it’s probably not enough to afford a home in central London. But if you rented a studio flat in a normal area, it would cost an average of £1,176. You could also still drive a brand-new Citroën C3 or Kia Picanto for around 10% of your wage.

While starting salaries at the SIS won’t let you live the Bond lifestyle, here’s how much you could earn if you work your way up the ladder.

M – Head of the SIS

Salary with the SIS: £160,000 per year

M is the Head of the SIS, currently played by Ralph Fiennes in the latest Bond films. M earns a whopping £160,000 a year, based on the salary of real-life Chief of the SIS. That leaves M with a massive £8,207 a month after tax.

M could definitely afford to live in an expensive area of London, as higher rent prices are around £2,654 on average. Expect to see M driving prestigious cars like a Land Rover Range Rover or even a Tesla Model S.

One thing that doesn’t quite add up for M is a membership to Blades, a fictional gentleman’s club in the Bond novels. To get in, you need to show over £2 million in cash, which would be seriously hard to save for as the real Head of the SIS. But M seems to have wangled his way in anyway!

Applying to the SIS – the key facts

Think being a spy is worth it? Here’s what you need to know before applying to the SIS.

  • You must be a born or naturalised British citizen or have substantial ties to the UK.
  • The extensive recruitment process takes six months and has seven stages to pass.
  • You’re not allowed to talk about your application, unless with immediate family.
  • Benefits include a Civil Service pension and 25 days paid holiday.

For more news and motor entertainment, check out the rest of the Moneyshake blog. Make sure to check out how much another Bond car, the classic Aston Martin DB5, sold for recently as we priced up pop culture’s most beloved cars.