2016 Salary Survey Report and Analysis

Gill Matthewson , 19 August 2016

The ACA has released the report on findings of the 2016 National Salary Survey – salaries are up very slightly, but worrying trends continue – there is still a gender pay gap and some practices persist in paying under Award minimums!

The report 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. Reports on the 2015 survey and the 2013 and 2014 surveys are also available.

The ACA National Salary Survey gathers data on thirty-one different roles. 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 2016 survey had the highest number of respondents of any survey to date (a 28% increase on 2015), with responses skewed toward larger practices. This means that the number of staff covered increased by 46%, but the profile of firm sizes is also skewed, with just over half the architects surveyed were located in 50+ firms in 2016. The spread of firms in not geographically representative, with lower response rates from the most populous states Victoria and New South Wales.

Of the firms surveyed 56% had increased salaries by the CPI or less than 3%. This is similar to 2015, but this year the number of firms that had increased salaries by over 6% has dropped to 15% (from 18% in 2015).

Key findings from this year are as follows:

  • Generally, there were only slight salary increases since 2015 for architects, and more so for technicians.
  • 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. However, there are exceptions.
  • A gender pay gap persists for architects and for interior designers.
  • Some 13% of firms are paying architects under minimum rates defined by the Architects Award.


10 - 6 Average and weighted average


6 - 7. Pay difference over time

5 - 8. Salaries by size

4 - 9 Salaries by state

11 - 12. Technical

2 - 13. Interior

3 - 14. Other

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.

Under-Award wages

ACA is very concerned to note that some practices appear to be still paying below the minimums stipulated by the Architects Award. Once again 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.)

Gender pay gap

The 2016 survey also found gender pay gaps for architects in all but two of the nine levels surveyed. Because the survey sample changes from year to year, it is not possible to say that the gender pay gap is definitely increasing or decreasing. However, monitoring the patterns over the years will help to trace the patterns.

7 - Gender

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.

Report, including all images, prepared by Gill Matthewson for the ACA.

Dr Gill Matthewson is a researcher, architect and educator, now based at Monash University in Melbourne. She has a particular interest in statistics about architects. Her PhD “Dimensions of Gender: women’s careers in the Australian architecture profession” (awarded by the University of Queensland in 2015) included a section analysing the most up-to-date data on architects. Some of this work has been published in Architecture Australia and on Parlour.