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.