Their bosses have not been so fortunate, however. QS partners and directors managed a depressingly small pay rise of 2%, with their building surveying counterparts faring even worse at 1%. Associates' pay in these firms rose 2.9% and 3.8% respectively.
The message for architects this year is do not expect too much. On average, partners' and directors' pay went up 1.6%, experienced architects' pay rose 2.2%, and part II-qualified architectural assistants received pay awards of 2.5%. In last year's salary guide, these three groups received pay boosts of 2.5%, 8.1% and 7.1% respectively. Only associates and newly qualified architects broke the 3% barrier.
For senior architects, the best way to a decent pay hike is specialisation. Senior interior designers' salaries rose 5.3% and senior space planners' pay jumped 6.7%.
Technicians – especially those with CAD experience – are still in short supply. Junior technicians with very little experience earned 6.3% on top of the 6.5% boost reported in last year's guide. Demand is strongest in London, where junior technicians' wages rose a staggering 14.2%. Technicians with a little more experience – 24-year-olds, say – also did well, picking up average pay rises of 5.6%.
If you are young and a qualified QS, you will probably have received a very good pay rise last year. Rises for those under 32 could be as high as 13.1%.
Graduates are scarce – so scarce that Bucknall Austin has started taking on school-leavers and putting them on part-time courses. Peter Taylor of Bucknall's Bristol office says: "We are paying good money for graduates but their heads are too full of theory. Teaching school-leavers on the job seems better."
Architects simply don’t train to be space planners
David Marval, director, Stride Treglown
Gardiner & Theobald takes a different stance, and is paying over the odds to get the best graduates. John Nevill, a partner at the Swindon office, says: "We pay £13 000-14 000 for graduates and more in London." The national average is £12 000. He adds that G&T has to approach surveyors in other firms to get the right under-35s.
Although London is good for graduates, Wales and the West are even better. According to Hays Montrose, graduates in this part of the country received pay increases of more than 9% last year. But older surveyors should steer clear – pay for 32-year-old seniors in Wales and the West stagnated, with no increase at all.
London and the South-east is the place to be for building surveyors. Graduates and young chartered surveyors reaped pay rises of more than 9% last year. Planning supervisors also did well, with pay rises of more than 8% on the previous year. Partners and directors did badly all over the country, however.
Engineers looking for top rates of pay should head west, over the Irish Sea. Wages for all grades of engineer from graduates to principals are much higher in the Republic of Ireland than in the UK. For instance, associate structural engineers in the UK earn between £29 000 and £32 200, compared with their counterparts in the Republic of Ireland, who can earn £38 000.
If you want to get a rise, specialise
The industry is increasingly unable to attract top quality graduates
Paul Gwilliam, partner, Gleeds
The winners in this year's architectural pay stakes are space planners, technicians and interior designers. The losers are partners and directors.
Senior space planners received the biggest boost, with average salary rising 6.7% to nearly £23 000. One reason is that space planners are in short supply. Says David Marval, director of Bristol-based architect Stride Treglown: "We advertised for a space planner to work on the detailed design of a 13 000 m² office for the DETR in Bristol. We've only had a couple of replies in a fortnight. A few years ago, we'd have had loads." Marval attributes the shortage to training. "Architects simply don't train to be space planners," he says. "It isn't seen as a glamorous career for most architects." Second in the pay stakes are architectural technicians. The average pay rise for juniors was 6.3% (14.2% in London). Those with a little more CAD experience than juniors received boosts of 5% . However, those with manual skills alone saw little or no increase in their pay packet.
Robin Sims, a director of London-based Aukett Associates where he is in charge of recruitment, says that good CAD technicians are "difficult to find unless you pay good money". He adds: "We get good responses, but the quality isn't there. We often use CAD technicians from agencies and we find antipodeans seem to be the best – perhaps the training is better Down Under." Marval agrees that there are few good technicians around. His theory is that students with computing skills are often tempted into the highly paid financial services and specialised computing consultancies. "Only a few make it into architecture," he says.
Hays Montrose identifies CAD skills as key. Such skills are starting to be in short supply north of the border, and there is great demand in the Midlands and the South. Indeed, these days, CAD technicians in southern England may receive a company car if they work directly for a developer, says the recruitment consultant.
At the senior level, Sims has problems finding staff who are able to run jobs, especially in Europe.
The North is best, but graduates are in short supply
ARICS surveyors aged between 27 and 30 living in the North and Scotland have plenty to cheer about, with their pay packets swollen by 13.1%, according to the Hays Montrose/Building guide. Newly qualified QSs around the age of 25 living in the same area also did well, getting pay rises of 9.8%. For graduate QSs seeking the biggest pay rises, the advice is to go west. Rises in Wales and the West are running at 9.6%.
We are trying to follow the market, and that means salary increases
Jon Hubbard, partner, Watts & Partners
Young QSs are at a premium, mainly because not enough A level students are interested in joining the profession. In fact, the graduate recruitment problem is becoming acute, as Gleeds partner in charge of human resources Paul Gwilliam explains: "Everyone is looking to improve the quality of staff, but the universities are telling us that the number of QS graduates is dropping. The construction industry is increasingly unable to attract top-quality graduates." His firm offers graduates an average starting salary of between £8000 and £11 000 outside London, slightly below the national average of £12 000 (which includes London). High demand in the west of the country could force it to offer more generous packages in future – £12 500 is a good bet, according to the guide.
Gwilliam emphasises the importance of training, even for the best qualified of young recruits. "Someone can be trained in the basic technical skills of being a QS but they have to recognise that when they come to us, they will start a second learning curve developing managerial skills," he says.
The firm is to apply for Investors in People status later this year, as many graduates look for this recognised standard when making applications. The firm also intends to launch a continuous training programme for all staff. Gwilliam hopes this will be an additional attraction for the right graduates and keep senior staff motivated, too.
Is training worth more than money?
London is the place to be for building surveyors, with graduate salaries up nearly 10% on 1997/98, chartered building surveyor salaries up 9.3% and planning supervisors up 8.6%.
Jon Hubbard, people partner with Watts & Partners, says the firm is having to keep pace with a fast-moving market. "We are having to try and follow the market, and that means salary increases," he says. "Also, one of the biggest issues I am concerned about is keeping hold of staff." Hubbard says that one way the firm is doing this is by offering training, not just for new graduates but for everyone in the firm. "People like to feel they are being invested in. We help them improve their technical skills and run team-building courses which definitely help the spirit of the office and boost morale." Watts is also in the process of attaining Investors in People status, something Hubbard thinks will be an added attraction when it comes to recruitment. "People are still looking at which package to go for, and not just at salary," he explains. Company cars and pension schemes are standard for all chartered staff, and senior staff get holiday increases, from 20 to 25 days a year, as an added incentive to stay.
Recent building surveying graduate 24-year-old Mari Griffin joined Watts last summer and confirms that the market is hungry for graduates. She had had three job offers when she finished her course at the University of Glamorgan with a first-class degree, and says many of her peers were in a similar position. "About 20 firms contacted the university offering graduate opportunities," she says. "It wasn't just commercial firms. Some housing associations, for example, were looking for assistant building surveyors." Griffin chose Watts, which offered her a £14 000 starting salary; she turned down an offer of £16 000 at a rival firm in favour of a superior training programme. "The first two years with the firm are split between the Blackheath and Haymarket offices, which gives both professional services and project management experience," she says. "It gave me the flexibility I needed to fulfil the requirements to become chartered." She has not had a pay rise yet but she does have a car allowance and the opportunity to join the company pension scheme.
We are paying over the odds for graduates who can demonstrate good conceptual skills as well as the usual CAD competencies
Hanif Kara, partner, Adams Kara Taylor
Ireland outstrips the UK for salaries
Ireland is the promised land for engineers of all types. Principal and associate engineers working in the Republic can expect to earn £1000-2000 more than they would in the UK.
Good structural engineering graduates are in short supply. Hanif Kara, partner with 30-strong structural and civil engineer Adams Kara Taylor, says the firm is struggling to recruit newly qualified engineers: "We are paying over the odds for graduates who can demonstrate good conceptual skills as well as the usual CAD competencies." To try to beat the squeeze, Kara is headhunting graduates from the best universities.
Kara adds that part of the problem is that engineering is failing to attract the best school-leavers, and that even when the clever people do come through, they are moving to other sectors. "A lot of my friends from university have moved into hotel management or accountancy because there is more money in it," he says.
Indeed, Kara – who worked on the Lloyd's Register of Shipping with Richard Rogers Partnership – has now been invited by UMIST and Salford University to persuade engineering students to go into a career in structural engineering.
The expanding practice, which is now working with Will Alsop, Terry Farrell and Zaha Hadid, is looking for two engineers and three graduates. "We are finding that there is a generation of engineers who just haven't built anything. Through the recession, they produced lots of plans, but no buildings to prove that the plans work," says Kara.
However, Mike Crane, partner with Whitby Bird & Partners, says he has few problems recruiting. "We are getting lots of good graduates writing in to us. Interestingly, the best ones seem to be women." Ove Arup & Partners is also finding little difficulty in recruiting at the right price. Ian Patterson, the firm's personnel manager, says that he is finding just two problem areas. "It's difficult recruiting structural engineers in Newcastle because the pool of talent is relatively small," he says; and there are few engineers around with 10 years' or so experience in railways.