2022 Salary Survey Findings

14 July 2022

After a couple of years of pandemic disruption, the 2022 ACA National Salary Survey Report is out now, with detailed analysis by Lindy Osborne Burton and Soha Matour. See a summary of the findings below and download the full report in the member-only section.

The report by QUT Associate Professor Lindy Osborne Burton and Dr Soha Matour 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 Gill Matthewson created the original Salary Survey report in 2013 and ongoing salary reports from 2013 to 2018. These are all available as a point of comparison. A summary of the 2022 findings follows.

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.

This Salary Survey is the only independent survey of salaries within the profession of architecture in Australia, except for those of recruitment companies. It provides significant longitudinal knowledge of workplace conditions.

Who responded?

After a hiatus in 2020 and 2021, the ACA National Salary Survey attracted our highest participation rate yet in 2022, with 235 practices (a 36% increase since 2019) reporting 2907 staff (a 12% increase since 2019).

The increase was unevenly spread across the staff categories: there was an increase in Technicians (18%) and Architectural Staff (13.6%), and a 7% decrease in the Other Staff category. Overall, most of the staff reported by practices were Architectural Staff (2,115), followed by Other Staff (281).

The high participation rate resulted in statistically significant data, which allows for valid benchmarking across all states and territories, and practice sizes and types.

Male and female staff data was collected to measure potential impact of gender on salaries. However, there was also an avenue put in place for practices with non-binary staff to have the opportunity to provide additional anonymous reporting to the ACA.

In 2022, the most populous states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland were well-represented by the number of practice responses. Queensland had the most respondents (68), then NSW (58) and Victoria (52).

The 2022 Survey showed us that 20% of overall staff were in regional locations, and 80% in capital cities of Australia. This shows an 11% increase for regional areas, and an 8% decrease for capital cities, when compared to 2019.

What is happening with salaries?

In 2022, 29.4% of the respondent practices reported that they offered a salary increase between 3% and 5%, which was marginally less than the 2019 Survey. The proportion of practices who reported that they had increased salaries by the CPI or less than 3%, decreased from 53% in 2019, down to 43% in 2022.

The highest reported increase was within the 6% to 10% category, with 23% of respondent practices offering a 6–10% salary increase compared to just 9% in 2019. The 11% to 20% category increased by almost double the number reported in 2019.

Key findings from this year are as follows:

  • Pandemic penalties: Generally, the range of salary increases over the three-year period between 2019 and 2022, was similar to the salary increases over the one-year period, from 2018 to 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic could provide the reason for this change in trend. There were mainly increases in the average salaries across the different staff categories, and these spanned between 4.9% and 11.3%.
  • Size matters: In 2022, generally the larger the practice the higher the pay rates, particularly in the senior and director/principal roles. However, there were also variations to this within some role categories.
  • Top guns: The pay ranges within role categories varied highly. The highest paid architects earned, on average, 4½ times more than the lowest paid architectural staff.
  • Gender breakdown: The gender breakdown for architectural staff across all surveyed practices is 39% women and 61% men. At the junior level, there is a much more even number of men and women working in practice. However, as we move up the experience levels, the proportion of men in senior roles increases dramatically, with more than four times as many men at the experienced director/principal level as women.
  • Mind the gap: There is still a gender pay gap in the salaries of architectural staff. See below for more info.
  • Bonus benefits: The percentage of practices offering staff benefits to their staff has dropped dramatically this year, with almost 60% offering no benefits compared to 40% in 2019 and under 30% in 2017.
  • Student salaries: The student salary data was quite different to that collected in 2019. In 2019, 81% of practices provided student data about salaries. However, in 2022 only 36% of practices filled in student data. Of the 77 reporting practices, 7.8% are currently paying students below the Award rate, which is concerning.
  • 2019 Reported salary increases
  • 2022 Reported salary increases

Under Award rates

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

For recently updated Award pay rates, head to the 2022/2023 Pay Rates page on the ACA website.

Gender pay gap

The gender pay gaps for architects identified in previous surveys persist. When comparing salaries in the different experience level categories, men are paid more on average in all but two of the role categories – the ‘new associate’ level and ‘registered up to three years’. Women and men are paid similarly at the ‘new director/principal’ level. However, for the remaining six categories, men’s salaries are higher on average, and the salary disparity is significantly wider at the ‘experienced director/principal’ level.

The ACA urges all practices to understand the issue and the role they can play in addressing it. 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.
  • 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.

Full report

The full 2022 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 qld@aca.org.au.

Salary Survey webinar

QUT’s Lindy Osborne Burton and Soha Matour unpack the key findings of the 2022 Salary Survey Report in a CPD webinar, now available to view as a video recording on demand. Hear the latest trends in different roles, different practice sizes, the gender pay gap, and more. To access the webinar, head to the relevant booking page.

NOTE: Member Only Content