Architects throughout Australia are receiving larger pay rises compared with any other time in recent history, the latest data shows.

The Association of Consulting Architects has released the findings of its 2022 National Salary Survey, which was conducted for the first time in three years following a hiatus on account of the pandemic.

The survey involved responses from 235 architectural practices and 2,907 staff.

It found that architects are now being offered higher salary increases compared with before the pandemic.

All up, as many as 23 percent of workers received salary increases of between six and ten percent this year.

This compares with only nine percent of workers who received similar increases during the most recent survey in 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of staff receiving increases of between 11 percent and 20 percent almost doubled from 2.0 percent in 2019 to 3.8 percent this year.

At these levels, more staff are receiving higher levels of increase than was the case during the boom in multi-storey apartment construction in the middle of last decade.

However, those receiving increases of greater than 20 percent declined from 2.0 percent in 2019 to 0.4 percent in 2022.

Meanwhile, for the top performers, there were fewer bonus benefits on offer.

All up, 60 percent of practices offered no bonus benefits this year. This compares with 40 percent in 2019 and less than 30 percent in 2017.

In other survey findings:

  • Not surprisingly, pay rates are higher in larger firms – particularly in senior and director/principal roles. However, there were variations to this in some role categories.
  • Average salaries range from $64,247 for graduates to $153,700 for experienced directors and principals.
  • The gender gap persists for both participation in the architectural workforce and in remuneration levels – even for similar roles (see below)
  • Concerningly, as many as 7.8 percent of practice are paying students less than the award rate of pay.

The latest survey comes as demand for architects has increased on account of boom in building and construction activity.

Generally speaking, architects have not benefited to the same degree as engineers and construction staff as architects are less exposed to the detached housing and civil infrastructure sectors in which the boom has been concentrated.

Nevertheless, vacancies for architects are now sitting at levels which are similar to those observed prior to the pandemic.

This indicates that demand for architectural staff is reasonably strong and that hiring activity among architectural practices is reasonably active.

As noted above, a gender gap among architectural practices persists in both workforce participation and remuneration.

This follows previous surveys in which similar disparities have been observed.

In terms of participation, the gender breakdown of the workforce across all practices surveyed was 61 percent male and 39 percent female.

However, whilst there is a close to even number of men and women architects at junior levels, this changes as workers progress upward throughout their careers.

Indeed, at the director/principal level, there are more than four times as many men compared with women.

On remuneration, the survey found an ongoing discrepancy in salary levels between men and women even among those who perform similar roles and have similar levels of experience.

Indeed, when comparing salaries in the different experience level categories, men are paid more on average in all but two of the nine role categories – the ‘new associate’ level and ‘registered up to three years’.

Women and men are also paid broadly similar at the ‘new director/principal’ level.

However, for the remaining six categories, men’s salaries are higher on average. The disparity is widest at the ‘experienced director/principal’ level.

Releasing its results, the ACA expressed concern about levels of underpayment and the ongoing gender pay gap.

It urged practices to understand their obligation under the Architects Award, use the ACA Salary Calculator to determine award-compliant salaries, ensure that client fee proposals reflect the full cost of providing appropriate levels of service and ensure that they have effective HR policies in place.