2018 Salary Survey Findings
The findings of the 2018 National Salary Survey, with analysis by Dr Gill Matthewson, are now out. There is still a gender pay gap and some practices persist in paying under Award minimums!
The report by Dr Gill Matthewson outlines the broad trends identified this year and compares these to the results from previous surveys. The full report is published in the members’ section below and is available to ACA members. Dr Matthewson’s reports on surveys from 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 and 2013 are also available. A summary of the findings follows, and members can also download the full report below.
The ACA National Salary Survey gathers data on thirty-one different roles within architectural practice. In addition to architectural staff, salary information is gathered for technicians, interior designers and other staff ranging from reception and clerical positions to chief executive officers. Details on salary packages and conditions and geographic location are also collected. The salary figures discussed in the report include superannuation and benefits but exclude bonuses, dividends, distributions and the like.
The 2018 survey had a slight decrease in the number of respondents from last year. This decrease resulted in a 31% decrease in the total numbers of staff covered in all the categories. This was not evenly spread across the staff categories and there were considerably fewer architectural staff surveyed than in 2017.
The 2017 survey was dominated by larger practices, but this year saw more small- to medium-sized firms respond.
The spread of firms is not geographically representative of the profession as a whole, with lower response rates from the most populous states Victoria and New South Wales.
What is happening with salaries?
More than one-third of the respondent firms stated that they offered a salary increase between 3% and 5%, a substantial increase on 2017. Half (49%) of responding firms indicated they had increased salaries by the CPI or less than 3%.
Key findings from this year are as follows:
- Despite the reported increases within practices, average salaries have decreased in over half the architectural staff role categories surveyed. Partly this is accounted for by the fact that different firms respond to the survey from year to year. Experienced director/principal shows the greatest decline (-3%), and graduates have the greatest increase at 3.3%.
- There are some very wide ranges of pay within role categories. The highest paid person in each category is being paid an average of three times the lowest paid person.
- Firm size matters for pay rates – generally, the larger the firm, the higher the rates of pay, particularly in senior and managerial roles.
- A gender pay gap appears to exist for architects, but the survey is not representative enough tobe definitive.
- The number of surveyed firms paying architects under the Award has decreased from a high of 17% in 2017 to 10% in 2018.
- Surveyed firms generally do not provide professional support for their staff in terms of registrationfees or membership of the Australian Institute of Architects.
The ACA believes that good business practices and better fees are vital for improving salaries for architects and others involved in the profession. We need to work together on this, and the ACA is continuing to identify ways to support architectural businesses and to advocate for better business environments and improved fees.
Two areas need particular attention – the gender pay gap and the persistent habit of some practices paying under Award rates.
ACA is very concerned to note that some practices appear to still be paying below the minimums stipulated by the Architects Award! It is good to see the number of forms reporting salaries below Award has dropped from nineteen last year to eleven in 2018. However, a further twenty-three firms surveyed were paying either at or close to the Award. This is also of concern because the Award does not include superannuation, while the survey does. This means that it is probable that these firms are also paying below the Award.
The Award rates in place when the survey was conducted were $49,296 for an entry-level graduate, and $56,992 on registration (with two more stepped increases after that point) and for experienced but not-registered.
For ‘Graduate up to 2 years’ the lowest figure was 26% below Award. The ‘Registered up to 3 years’ reported at $45,000 is 21% below Award. The other registered categories were less out ofstep, but still problematic.
Once again the ACA reiterates its reminder to practices. It is essential to understand the employer’s obligations under the Award, and to understand that Award wages are a minimum. (Underpaying staff is illegal and breaching the Award can incur hefty fines.)
Gender pay gap
The gender pay gaps for architects identified in previous surveys persist, and women continue to cluster in the junior categories.
Men earn more in all but two of the role categories, and in seven categories the extent of that difference is more than 5%. The differences are less thanthey were in 2017, with most below 5%. Because the survey sample changes from year to year, it is notpossible to say that the gender pay gap is definitely increasing or decreasing. However, monitoring thepatterns over the years will help to trace patterns. At the moment, that pattern is of a varying butcontinuing gender pay gap.
The ACA urges all practices to understand the issue and the role they can play in addressing it – and remember that there is a clear business case for pay equity, as well as the obvious ethical issue. We encourage members to familiarise themselves with the Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice, which include a guide specifically on Pay Equity.
What should practices do?
- Ensure that you understand the Architects Award and your obligations under it. This includes observing the Award rates as a minimum.
- Use the ACA Salary Calculator to determine Award-compliant salaries. This takes into consideration variables such as non-standard hours, superannuation and award categories, as well as the requirements of the National Employment Standards (NES) and the latest version of the Architects Award.
- Ensure that you understand the full cost of providing appropriate levels of service, and craft fee proposals accordingly. The ACA Architects Time/Cost Calculation Guide is an important tool to help guide these decisions.
- Be conscious of pay equity and make sure you understand the significant costs that pay gaps bring to both practices and individuals. Access and use the Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice – in particular the ACA encourages all member practices to conduct a pay equity audit, to reflect honestly on the findings, and to take steps to address any unfair discrepancies. Read Leone Lorrimer on why paying employees fairly is good business.
- Ensure that your practice has good HR policies and processes in place. This is vital for developing productive, fair and equitable workplaces. The ACA’s HR Policy templates provide a very useful resource, which can be adapted to suit practices of all sizes.
- Participate in the regular ACA Salary Survey. This provides a benchmark for your own practice, while also helping to build broader knowledge. The more practices participate, the more meaningful the survey will be.
Dr Gill Matthewson report author
Dr Gill Matthewson is a researcher, architect and educator, currently based at Monash University in Melbourne. She is a national expert on the demographics of Australian architecture. Her PhD “Dimensions of Gender: women’s careers in the Australian architecture profession” (awarded by the University of Queensland in 2015) included significant analysis of the most up-to-date data on architects, and she is a and is a co-founder of Parlour: women, equity, architecture. Gill is widely published and her research forms a core of the advocacy undertaken by Parlour.
For the ACA, Gill has undertaken the analysis of the previous National Salary Surveys and is the author of the ACA Architects in Australia reports, which chart the professional profile of architects and the industry’s development in recent years through the 2001, 2006 and 2011 Censuses.
The full 2018 National Salary Survey report is available to ACA members. Members can log in below to access it. if you are not already a member you can find out more about joining the ACA here.
If you are not eligible to be a member, or are a researcher, journalist or other media representative interested to read the report, please contact ACA – Qld/NT to enquire about obtaining a copy. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.