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Architects ‘squeezed out of middle class’

Architects, academics and scientists can no longer afford the comforts of middle class life because their earnings have been eclipsed by a new ‘uber middle class’ – research has claimed

Career paths considered well paid in the 1970s such as architecture have failed to keep pace with pay increases for doctors, bankers and lawyers – according to research published in The Financial Times.

Analysis of salaries over the past 40 years indicated the arrival of a new ‘uber middle class’ which has fuelled fiercer competition for private school places and higher property prices in the capital.

The study found architects and town planners earned 1.58 times the national average in the mid-1970s but this has slipped to 1.32 today.

By comparison lawyers’ relative income increased from 1.39 to 1.74 times the national average and City workers’ earnings shot up from 1.32 to 3.07 times the national average.

Representing the top five per cent of earners, the so-called ‘uber-middle class’ are likely to live in a five bedroom house.

Architects in contrast can no longer expect to find themselves in the top 10 per cent of salaried workers and are said to be among a growing raft of professions seeking to ‘cling-on’ to middle class privileges.

Commenting on the findings a RIBA spokesperson said: ‘Architects earnings have increased in real terms over recent decades, especially during the 2000s, but during the recession their inflation-adjusted earnings have fallen back to around 1988 levels.

During the recession architect’s earnings have fallen back to 1988 levels

‘Contemporary UK architects are therefore better off in real terms than their counterparts in the early 1960s, but have seen a decrease in relative terms to national average earnings.’

The spokesperson continued: ‘Architects earnings are inevitably closely related to the fees charged. In the 1960s, a far higher proportion of architects were employed in the public sector, the overall profession was much smaller and fixed fee scales were commonplace, therefore increased competition in the profession may have a big part to play in the trends we see today.

‘RIBA encourages sustainable fees that reflect the value good design brings and the unique expertise and skill only architects can offer.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • I cant help but think that over the next ten years, unless fees rise back to historic percentages, that the mix of long hours, average pay and (due to house prices) long commutes will lead to large practices having a shortfall in quality staff availability (people with 10 years experience who want to start a family for example). This will probably lead to the creation of satellite offices on the main access routes within earshot of London in places like Guildford, Milton Keynes and Brighton which will take on more and more of the work with lower overheads and less time spent commuting. This will be made all the easier by advances in remote data exchange over the web and superfast broadband.

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  • Hmm, 1.32 above national average, is in no way commersurate with 'the mix of long hours,.. and (due to house prices) long commutes ..'
    I do wonder whether architects will manage to cling on to being 'middle class'..

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  • Its our own fault, we accept low salaries as we are 'blinded' by the prestige nature of projects. Partners and directors offer 'low' fees to gain prestigious work and then can only offer low salaries which the know will be accepted. If we turn down low paid work and stop doing free work and walk away from that ridiculous low pay offer then things will improve. I have lost count of the number of friends I have who work 80 hours a week, under pressure and stress for average pay (minimum wage if hours factored in) but are then happy as they get free pizza and a taxi home after 8pm and they are working on a mega 200 storey tower for the 19th richest man in the world in some 'BRICK' economy and wont that be good for their CV when they move on to their next low paid exploited job......

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