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Global survey reveals where architects get paid most

AJ100 World map

A new survey has revealed huge salary disparities between North America and western Europe for architects and construction professionals

The 2017 Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry Salary Report found that just 7.9 per cent of those working in the sector in the USA and Canada are paid less than $50,000 (£40,000), compared with half in Western Europe.

It found that 46.2 per cent of US/Canadian AEC professionals are paid between $75,000 (£60,000) and $125,000 (£99,000), compared with just 6.1 per cent in Western Europe.

And 32 per cent of AEC professionals in the USA/Canada make more than $100,000 (£79,000) a year. In Western Europe just 9 per cent make that.

The report, produced by BIM supplier ClearEdge3D, concluded: ‘There are major regional differences in pay in the AEC industry.’

The survey was emailed to more than 6,500 executives, with 67 per cent of respondents coming from North America and 14 per cent from Europe, ClearEdge3D said.

Lindsay Urquhart of London-based consultancy Bespoke Careers, which also has offices in New York and Los Angeles, said: ‘As a rule of thumb our New York and LA offices tend to find architects positions on salaries 10 per cent higher than they would get in London.   

‘There are also greater extremes at both end of the spectrum, with some graduates earning as little as $40,000 per annum, while directors are regularly offered positions [paying] up to $230,000 a year.’

AEC Industry Salary Report 2017 by Region

AEC Industry Salary Report 2017 by Region

AEC Industry Salary Report 2017 by Region

However, Paul Chappell, director of architectural recruitment firm 9B Careers, warned of reading too much into the figures, due to the varying cost of living in different parts of the world.

He said: ‘The US is known to always pay considerably more than the UK but this appears to be mainly down to healthcare insurance, which can dramatically eat into your wage packet.’

Dave Madden, director at design recruitment firm Mustard, said: ‘On the face of it, it does look as if an architect would be better off jumping on a ship and getting over to the New World for a little extra pay.

‘However, I am not sure we can take it on face value as we have no idea how many respondents to the survey were architects from the UK.

‘There doesn’t seem to be any mention of the word “architect” or “architectural designer” – only “designer”.’

AEC Industry Salary Report 2017 by Gender

AEC Industry Salary Report 2017 by Gender

AEC Industry Salary Report 2017 by Gender

Madden said his biggest concern about the survey was not the geographical, but the gender disparities revealed in the report. It found that 30 per cent of male executives earned $100,000 or more, compared with 23 per cent of female executives, despite comparable levels of experience and slightly higher levels of education among women respondents.

In addition, 36 per cent of female executives earn less than $50,000, compared with 19 per cent of their male counterparts, again with similar levels of education and experience.

Madden said: ‘The difference between males and females in similar roles is something that really needs sorting out.’

AEC Industry Salary Report 2017 - all regions


Readers' comments (2)

  • MacKenzie Architects

    What a bizarre way to put data on a graph.
    You do that kind of survey as an accumulative total. The fact that 0% of Europeans are on $100k is completely meaningless.
    Only when you see the bulge of salaries does any of it make sense.
    90% of European salaries are under $100k, but 90% of US/Can salaries are under $150k, and you can work out all the percentiles in between to make use of the info.
    The authors need to spend a little more time figuring out to present this better.

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  • N america vs Europe have legally no holiday entitlement with the average being 10 days leave. whilst in Europe we have around 30
    divide the amount of working days and you end up with similar figures

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