Initial findings from this year’s AJ100 survey show that architects’ salaries, in real terms, are falling. Bruce Tether unpicks the data
The figures, which will be published in full later this week, show that average pay in architecture has been remarkably stagnant for years.
Had average pay increased in line with the consumer price index since 2007, then partners/directors would on average now be paid £105,000, associates £63,600, architects £47,500, Part 3 students £35,600 and year-out students £26,250.
Yet only 18 of the practices in this year’s league table of the UK’s largest practice report paying any of these amounts to their partner/directors, associates, architects and Part 3s. Only one practice pays that level to its year-out students.
According to the data, the median pay for partners/directors remains unchanged from 2015 at £85,000 – only £1,000 above what it was in 2007 prior to the financial crisis. Meanwhile median pay for associates is down marginally year-on-year to £51,500, while that for architects is up only slightly at £38,500. Median pay for Part 3 students is unchanged at £29,000, while that for year-out students has risen very slightly to £21,250.
In light of these declining real incomes, it is surprising that the survey of employees, undertaken alongside the survey of AJ100 practices, finds that 80 per cent are satisfied with their pay – a third of these respondents say they are ‘very satisfied’, while a further 46 per cent are ‘satisfied’. Only 2 per cent say they are ‘very dissatisfied’, while 9 per cent are ‘dissatisfied’ and 9 per cent are ‘indifferent’.
As before, there is striking variation in pay levels between practices. One practice claims to pay its partners/directors £188,000 on average, while another pays them only £50,000. There are 21 practices that pay their partners/directors at least £100,000 on average, and unsurprisingly most of these are based in London. Also unsurprisingly, median pay at all levels is around 20 per cent higher for practices based in London compared with those in the rest of the country, with the relative difference being greatest (30 per cent) for Part 3s.
There may, however, be changes on the way. Dave Madden of recruitment agency Mustard says: ‘We have seen a stabilisation in salaries over the last 12 months. But a number of clients think they are artificially high, particularly for Revit skills. Good skills get 10 to 15 per cent more. And a number of clients in recent months are paying people too much in the mid range. Architectural assistants/ Part 2s are getting 34 to 36k which even in the heyday before the crash wasn’t happening. Rates are particularly rising in Birmingham and Bristol.’
The winners of all the AJ100 awards and the full rankings will be announced at the AJ100 gala dinner at the Tower of London on 14 June.