RIBA Appointments is the official recruitment agency of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and is unique in its ability to support the architecture profession. It has not only been supporting practices for more than 30 years but it also has access to the full resources of the RIBA, not least insight from RIBA’s annual Business Benchmarking Survey of over 3,000 RIBA Chartered Practices.
The RIBA Appointments Salary Guide 2017 is based on salary insight from the RIBA Business Benchmarking Survey Report published in November 2016 with an update on current salaries for London and the South East based on findings from the RIBA Appointments Recruitment Consultants as at April 2017.
Average Salaries 2016
The salary information alone is more comprehensive and detailed than that provided by any other similar source. In very broad terms, the data shows a rather more optimistic picture than that painted by the press and media following the various significant changes experienced in 2016. This can be seen in Table 5-1 – Average salaries - all staff see below:
This is a source of very general information since it covers the whole of the UK, but nevertheless it indicates a positive trend in that salaries for all but one of the roles surveyed have either risen or remained the same across the UK since the previous Survey took place in 2015. (The exception being ‘other fee-earning staff’ - those who are not fulfilling an architecture related role and who are not other Chartered construction professionals, but whose services can be charged to the client, such as interior design.) The range of increase is from 2-4%, all comfortably above the rate of inflation.
It is no surprise that salaries in London are consistently higher than the rest of the UK across the board. The differential can be quite substantial, for example, it is an average of 8% higher for Partners, Directors and Sole Principals. However, Scotland also indicates higher than average salaries, showing the healthy market in that region. One might be forgiven for expecting that those areas which have large cities or urban conurbations might typically command higher salaries, but the survey data does not bear this out consistently – with the exception of London.
An unfortunate issue with the salary data is that several categories do not have sufficient data for key regions outside England.
Average Salaries by Seniority
The Survey also examines salaries by seniority, and the following tables and narrative further illustrate similar themes to those reported above.
These tables show Average Salaries for Equity Partners, Shareholding Directors or Sole Principals, by practice size and by region. It provides a more useful breakdown of data than that covering the whole of the UK regardless of region.
It is interesting to note that the highest salary rises are in practices of 3-10 staff and Sole Practitioners. Albeit, that the incremental salary paid is significantly higher as the size of practice increases.
Average Salaries by Region
The Survey confirms that practices in London may pay the highest salaries, but it is notable that practices in Scotland pay consistently higher salaries in that their range is less. In fact, Scotland’s lower quartile salary is the highest in the UK, whereas London’s is fourth of the fourteen regions.
The data also shows the huge impact on total income of equity payments or shares. This suggests that practices are largely profitable enough to offer dividends to their owners. This can only be seen as a positive endorsement of the profession.
Associate Salaries – Practice Size and Region
These tables express data regarding Salaries for Associates, by practice size and by region.
Regardless of the size of practice, salaries have increased across the board between 2015 and 2016. Figures were not available outside England, but, within that country, the trend remains the same, in that London, the South East and the South remain the regions where salaries are highest. Interestingly, the East i.e. East Anglia, encompassing Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Lincolnshire, retains a comparatively high average salary rate, indicating that metropolitan areas do not pay more than rural areas, as may have been the case in the past. Both the South – Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, the Isle of Wight – and the East, have higher average salaries than the North West and Yorkshire, despite the large cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds in those areas.
Architects 5 Years + ARB Registered – Practice Size and Region
These tables cover Average Salaries for Architects 5+ years ARB registered, by practice size and by region. The story here is rather more mixed. Once again a similar regional pattern is demonstrated, in terms of average salaries being higher in London, the South East, South and East. However, there is a higher level of variance according to the size of the practice in terms of salary increase since 2015’s survey. Only in the 50+ and 10-20 person practices have salaries increased. In fact, in 20-50 and 3-5 person practices salaries have actually decreased.
Architects < 5 Years ARB Registered and Technologists – Practice Size and Region
As for Average Salaries for those up to 5 years ARB registered and for Technologists, there is little to say except that there is a nominal increase or salaries have remained on a par. The salary range once more echoes geographical locations with London and the South East leading the way.
Architectural Assistants (Part 2 and Part 1) – Practice Size and Region
Covering both Part 1 and Part 2 Architectural Assistants, once again the average salaries remain largely the same. Once more, there is no representation from outside England due to insufficient data. And, without wishing to perpetuate the clichés, it does seem as if you would not wish to work in Yorkshire if salary was your priority.
Salary Guide: London and South East Updated April 2017
Despite the perceived uncertainty regarding the economy, due largely to the unknown nature of our planned exit from the EU, salaries in London and the South East have remained buoyant. This table sets down figures accurate as of April 2017. These indicate that salaries in this area have continued to rise beyond the rate of inflation. This is indicative of a strong market despite concerns voiced in the press and media.
It is also important to note that a further increase across the board in all regions outside London and the South East should be taken in to account since the 2016 RIBA Benchmarking Report was published.
Value of Fringe Benefits
In addition, whilst average salaries obviously serve to pinpoint a base from which to start in terms of income, they should also be considered alongside any other fringe benefits that organisations offer. For example, with the implementation of auto-enrolment, employers will have to offer contributions into a retirement vehicle to most of their staff. It is certainly true to say that fringe benefits tend to increase in value with practice size. And, also that a significant proportion of the larger practices tend to be London based.
Fringe benefits do vary a lot. For example, it is unusual for cars to be offered in London practices. And, whilst private health care and life assurance are becoming more common, there remains something of a trend towards offering these to more senior staff or offering a higher level of benefit to more senior staff.
Commentary by Kate Marks, Founder and Director of EvolutionHR, HR consultancy to the built environment and author of HR for Creative Companies.