How much do architects get paid in Australia? Well, that depends on a number of factors: place of work, size of firm, experience, gender pay gap, registration status, and specialisation.

Pay scales are also determined by the firm’s adherence to federal laws on Architects Award. Besides, architects in urban areas have a significant advantage over their counterparts in regional locations when we are talking about the average architect salary.

According to the 2018 National Salary Survey conducted by the Association of Consulting Architects Australia, which gathers data across 31 different roles at architectural practices, average salaries have, in fact, decreased in more than half of the staff role categories surveyed.

Pay increases of 3-5 percent were reported by more than a third of the respondents, which is an improvement on 2017 when wage increases were relatively flat. At least 49 percent of the responding firms have increased salaries based on the CPI or by less than 3 percent. Under-award wages and gender pay gap continue to be concerns in the industry.

Architect’s salary Australia

Fair Work Australia’s Architects Award stipulates minimum annual wages for specific architect roles in an architectural practice. The updated award effective from 1 July 2018 sets the annual salary for an entry-level, full-time graduate of architecture at $51,020 (up from $49,296 in 2017), an experienced graduate of architecture at $58,986 and an entry-level registered architect, also at $58,986 ($56,992 in 2017).

The number of surveyed practices that have reported paying below-award salaries has dropped from 2017’s high of 17 percent to 10 percent this year. According to the survey, which was conducted at 2017 award rates, the lowest salary reported for a graduate up to 2 years was 26 percent below the award rate while registered architects up to 3 years received 21 percent below award.

A marginal increase in average salary has been observed in some of the roles. For instance, graduates up to 2 years of experience received an average of $57,866, up from $55,996 in 2017, and a new director/principal is paid an average of $131,959 up from $123,781. However, the greatest decline is seen for an experienced director/principal with a 3 percent drop at $139,392.


Seek’s annual salary ranking

The design and architecture sector has been placed 15th in the annual salary ranking by leading jobs website Seek, which ranks the highest advertised salaries on the site across 28 sectors. Additionally, the growth in advertised salary in this sector is the third highest amongst all the sectors. Even within design and architecture, the average advertised salary for architects was the third highest across the 10 sub-classifications at $88,518 – advertised salaries for architects have also gone up 3 percent over the previous year. Average advertised salaries for landscape architects and interior designers are $83,234 and 78,518 respectively.

Hays’ Annual Salary Guide

Hays’ Annual Salary Guide released in May 2018 revealed the salary trends in all the Australian capital cities as well as regional areas. While Sydney and Melbourne led the list, the smaller capital cities and regional areas showed marginally lower salary ranges. Sydney was the most lucrative for architects with a salary range of $55,000-$80,000 for graduate architects, and $100,000-$150,000 for senior architects. Melbourne was close behind with similar ranges. Graduate architect salaries are in the range of $50,000-$65,000 in regional NSW and $50,000-$70,000 in in regional VIC.Archiectec

Graduate or junior architect salaries in cities such as Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Hobart and Darwin was in the $49,000-$70,000 range.


Landscape architect salaries in Sydney and Melbourne are in the range of $55,000-$115,000. Interior designers with 2-7 years of experience could expect $55,000-$85,000 while senior interior designers have a salary range of $85,000-$130,000.Hays’ outlook on the construction and engineering sectors is positive with the recruitment company expecting these industries to remain strong economic drivers. Staffing demand trends show a preference for specialised roles in the architecture and design segments.


For instance, the NSW infrastructure market has a high demand for REVIT architects, interior architects / designers and landscape architects, especially in Sydney. The buoyant Victoria market has particular demand for project architects. Drafters, designers and architects with REVIT skills are highly sought, according to Hays. Strong REVIT knowledge is an asset in Queensland’s architecture industry while Adelaide is seeking experienced project architects for end-to-end project management. The high demand is naturally driving up salaries, says the Hays report.


Gender wage gap

Architect wage parity continues to be elusive for women in architecture, according to the Association of Consulting Architects Australia survey. Though 31 percent of all architects are women, and an increasing number of women architects own architecture businesses, they continue to lack representation in leadership roles at architecture firms. ACA’s salary survey reveals that men earn more than women in 7 out of 9 staff role categories with the wage gap exceeding 5 percent in all 7 categories.


Architects Vs Construction Engineers

Architects and designers continue to lag behind professionals involved in construction project delivery such as project, civil and structural engineers. Data released by Seek shows that the average salary for project engineers was $117,200 while civil and structural engineers were offered an average salary of 108,300 with those in the managerial cadre earning higher.

This disparity is mainly attributed to the diminished scope of an architect’s role in the entire lifecycle of a construction project, which limits them to mere design tasks. Specialised project managers have broadened their role to cover project and construction management as well as contract administration and quality control – roles that were previously the domain of architecture professionals.


Architects with experience and specialised skills continue to be in demand at architectural firms where they can command a decent wage package, along with other incentives such as the freedom to create beautiful spaces, influence the built environment and be rewarded, both professionally and personally.

Image: The Art Career Project

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