2015 Salary Survey Report and Analysis

Gill Matthewson , 17 July 2015

The ACA has released the report on findings of the 2015 National Salary Survey. This outlines the broad trends identified this year and compares these to the results from the previous two years.

The full report is published in the members section below and is available to ACA members. The report on the 2013 and 2014 surveys is also available here.

This year’s survey saw a slightly lower number of practices responding, but this drop was balanced by more a even spread of responses in terms of practice size. As a result the average number of staff per respondent has increased over time (18 staff per respondent in 2015, as compare to 17 in 2014 and 15 in 2013), and the overall number of salaries surveyed has remained steady. The ACA aims to build respondent numbers steadily over time to ensure that the data obtained is as reliable and effective as possible.

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.

Pay rates and increases

The results of this year’s survey – in terms of staff numbers and salary increases – suggest that the hint of improved economic and business conditions contained in the 2014 survey results have been realised to some extent.

This year saw a larger number of firms able to increase salaries by 3% or more (66% this year, as compared to 47% in 2014). A small number of practices offered increases of more than 10% (none of the practices surveyed last year did this). The proportion of practices offering increases at less than the CPI also shrank dramatically.

Despite this good news, the ACA is concerned to note that some practices appear to be still paying below the minimums stipulated by the Architects Award. These figures may be anomalies as an outcome of some respondents not including superannuation and packaged benefits in their figures. Nonetheless, the ACA reiterates its reminder to practices – it is essential to understand the employer’s obligations under the Award, and to ensure that these are met. (Breaching the Award can incur hefty fines.)

Continuing another trend identified in 2013 and 2014, this year’s survey identified BIM managers and modellers outstripping the other technical salary bands.

The number of practices employing students increased this year – 55% as compared with only 45% of the practices surveyed in 2014.

Gender pay gap

The 2015 survey also found gender pay gaps in all but three of the ten levels surveyed. As in 2014, some of this gap may be explained by anomalies in the data, as outlined by Gill Matthewson in her report. However, the ongoing suggestions of gender-based gaps in this and other data are of serious concern.

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?

  1. Ensure that you understand the Architects Award and your obligations under it. This includes observing the Award rates as a minimum.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

The full report is available to ACA members. 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 to enquire about obtaining a copy. Email qld@aca.org.au.

NOTE: Member Only Content