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How Much Does an Architect Earn in Australia?

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Architects are an important part of any society. But are they compensated well for their hard work? That’s what we will find out today, and we will focus exclusively on Australian architects since a global comparison can become very complicated.

First up, here are some of the main responsibilities of architects. We must understand that, like any other profession, architects and architecture is not homogenous playground. Income varies greatly depending on skill, experience, successful past projects, and the company they are working for.

  • Project Discussion
  • Documentation and Drawings
  • Cost Estimation
  • Contract Negotiation
  • Expert Consultancy

It goes without saying that as an architect becomes more proficient in these fields, their income will also go up. Some architects also specialize in one of these areas, and their income may depend on the demand of their specialization.

Negotiation skills are also important for architects, be it with an employer or a client. Good negotiation skills can result in a solid 5%-10% increase in yearly wages. Keeping all these factors in mind, let’s head over to hard numbers and statistics.

Please note: Statistics can be misleading and should not be accepted at face value, especially averages. However, they give a good overall idea about the general trends and figures.

The average salary of architects in Australia

Fair Work Australia has set a criterion for architect wages in Australia. It does not say much about average earnings but gives a clear idea of the minimum wages that architects make in Australia. The list was last updated in 2018, and those parameters still continue.

Here are the minimum wages for architects in Australia according to Fair Work Australia:

  • If you are an entry-level architect who just finished their full-time graduation in architecture, your minimum wage will be $51,020 per annum. It is more than the previously stipulated minimum wage – $49,296 in 2017.
  • A graduate architect with some years of industry experience will make $58,986 per year.
  • An entry-level, registered architect will also make the same as experienced graduate architects – $58,986.

The minimum wage for both experienced graduate architects and entry-level registered architects has gone up from $56,992 in 2017.

However, we need to understand that many companies might not follow the minimum wages set by Fair Work Australia. Fortunately, the number of employers doing so is coming down.

In 2017, 17% of companies were paying their architects less than the stipulated award rate. In 2018, the number had come down to 10%. As we move towards better employee security and transparency, the number can fall even more.

As of 2017, the lowest salary for a graduate architect with up to 2 years of experience was 26% less than the stipulated amount. The same for registered architects with up to 3 years of experience was 21% less than the stipulated amount.

In a few roles, the average salary has increased slightly, while it has declined for others. For example, a graduate architect with around two years of work experience earned an average salary of $57,866 in 2018. It was $55,996 in 2017, marking a slight increase.

Similarly, the average salary for an entry-level director/principal was $131,959 in 2018, more than $123,781 in 2017.

On the other end, experienced directors or principals saw a decline in average salaries. With $139,392 being the average in 2018, it was a 3% drop from the previous average.

Money management is also important for architects, given the nature of their profession. Risks and hazards remain another area of concern for architects. Do architects need professional indemnity insurance to cover themselves from indemnity? They do, be the allegations real or false. On top of that, architects professional insurance and architect liability insurances ensure architects can manage their money better and prepare for unexpected events. Learn more about possible architect insurance options.

Annual salary ranking from Seek

Leading job website Seek releases an annual ranking of positions based on their average salaries. Out of the 28 sectors in the list, architecture stood at 15th position. However, it is the rate of growth in advertised salaries that show a more optimistic picture for architects. Out of all the sectors, architecture was in third place in terms of growth in advertised salaries. Within design and architecture, the average advertised salary was $88,518. The average for landscape architects was $83,234, while that of interior designers was $78,518.

Salary trends for different regions

As with any other profession, architects also get different salaries depending on where they are working. In general, architects working in urban areas earn more than those in suburban areas. According to the 2018 Hays’ Annual Salary Guide, architects working in Sydney and Melbourne were the highest earners. The average salary bracket for entry-level architects in Syndey was $55,000-$80,000. For experienced architects, it was $100,000-$150,000. For smaller urban centers like Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Hobart, Canberra, and Darwin, the average salary was between $49,000-$70,000.

While the difference may not be so striking at first glance, the scenario changes completely when we take into account specializations.

For instance, landscape architects in Sydney earn between $55,000-$115,000. Junior interior designers in Sydney earned between $55,000-$85,000 on average, while senior designers earned in the range of $85,000-$130,000.

Specialization is the next big thing in the architecture industry, with the demand for experts rising constantly. In Sydney, for example, REVIT architects are in high demand. Similarly, landscape architects, interior designers, drafters, and other specialists are in high demand in urban centers. For a general architect, it might be difficult to make the same amount of money as a specialist.

All trends point towards a singular picture: there is money to be made, but you need to know your skill to its best to make big bucks. While the average salary has increased slightly, it would amount to nothing when we take into account the rate of inflation. On the contrary, specialists are in high demand, and their average salaries have also gone up more significantly.

While senior architects can easily make more than $100,00, junior/mid-level architects will have a hard time achieving it unless they specialize in their area. Specialization also depends on demand. For instance, while Sydney has a huge demand for interior and landscape designers, the same might not be the case in a suburban town.

The gender gap in architect wages

The issue of the gender wage gap prevails in the sector of architecture as it does in many other fields. Surprisingly enough, it continues despite having significant female representation in the field. As per reports from the Association of Consulting Architects Australia, 31% of all architects in Australia are women. However, that does not stop or prevent discrimination. Men continue to hold positions of power, and the average wages for female architects are lower than male architects in almost all spheres.

According to the same report by the Association of Consulting Architects Australia, in 7 out of 9 roles, men earn more than women. The wage gap is anywhere between 5% to 7%. Over the coming years, we can hope to see this gap lessening and women getting paid what they deserve.

Conclusion

Architecture remains a lucrative profession for those who love creating things. With steady growth in average wages, we can expect more high-paying jobs as demand and money-flow increase. Budding architects should focus on learning their craft well since the demand for experts and specialists is at an all-time high.

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