Salaries for some registered architects in Australia which are barely above award minimums could force some to leave the sector and affect the entire viability of the profession, a new report has warned.

Published by the Association of Consulting Architects Australia (ACA), the most recent National Salary Survey says pay increases throughout 2013 and 2014 had been generally been very small and that the majority of architectural practices were paying only slightly above rates specified in the Architect’s Award.

Moreover, it notes some instances of payments below minimum award rates and other cases where firms have been surviving on unpaid overtime, and adds that low levels of remuneration levels are not limited to junior staff and may force some workers to leave the profession.

“Salaries for registered architects at the bottom end of the range are worryingly low” the report said. “The survey contains some outliers, but a consistent finding is that there is very little salary increase for registered architects at the lower end of the scale from being newly registered to being very experienced or even a Principal/Director.

“This is of real concern and has serious consequences for the ability of these architects to stay in the profession, and the economic viability of the profession as a whole.”

Around Australia, demand for architects has been impacted over recent years by low levels of building activity as tight financial conditions following the GFC led to a decline in investment in office, retail and industrial projects.

This, the ACA says, has forced tenders for work to fall to unsustainable levels and has impacted the sector as a whole.

Furthermore, the report notes a number of other concerns, including a gender pay gap in eight of 10 levels surveyed and limited student opportunities for early exposure to architectural practices (only 45 per cent of practices surveyed indicated they employed graduates) – the latter phenomenon of which the ACA puts down to recent changes in educational programs as well as limited demand.

However, there was one bright spot, with Building Information Modeling (BIM) managers being clearly the highest earners of all technical roles across all salary brands – a clear sign of increasing interest in and awareness of the potential of this technology to improve project management and drive down costs.

  • I spent 47 years working in Architecture and saw a gradual decline in the status and respect of Architects in the community. Even the government proposed dergulation of the term "Architect" at one stage. The quality of documentation coming out of Architects offices reflects the minimum fees being charged. Ultimately the client pays more for their building because of unresolved, unco-ordinated documentation. Architects are ultiimately responsible for the built environment. Let's see some backbone from the profession to protect itself from degradation. I accept that the GFC has had a prolonged impact on the flow of work to Architects and others. Undercutting fees doesn't help anyone.

  • No one will dispute the importance of architects and designers in the built environment but like builders who have to deliver the end product for a reasonable cost so should architects deliver a full set of documentation including all details at a reasonable cost. Unfortunately far too often the documentation has been cut back using cost as the excuse. Full documentation is the key to improve productivity, quality and reduce rework and disputes…it happens overseas so why not in Australia.

  • Deregulation of the Architectural profession and also allowing additional competition. Many larger firms promoted the idea that architectural services should open the door to competition so they could get lucrative commissions in Asia and elsewhere. The professional advocacy has drifted away from empowering individual architects to the promotion only of large and often integrated companies. In capital cities, firms from other states and NZ mean that there is much more competition. With lower levels of activity and technology also impacting on how the profession uses resources, the raw demand for our services has diminished, and with it the income normally associated with highly trained and skilled professionals.

  • Yes the wages are low by professional standards. As an examiner for architects registration, an employer and developer for some 20 years this decline has been quite dramatic over the past 10 years.and cant really see any end in sight.. Frankly you couldnt recommend young school leavers entering the profession. Reasons are that Architects have no credibility in project and cost management and therefore not trusted by the client. Universities focus on social design outcomes and not the realities that face the profession in full delivery of projects. Hence rise of project managers and a subsequent decline in Architects managing the process. Bit sad really. Architects today are not seen as competent by a client anymore I have also noticed a hug

Dulux Exsulite Architecture – 300 X 250 (expire Dec 31 2017)