Another finding – and one that consultants will stress when lobbying government – is their contribution to British exports at a time when the trade deficit is worsening. Consultants raised £1.5bn in overseas revenue last year. By comparison, radio and TV earn a total of £700m and music and the visual arts a total of £300m.
The report found that fee income for consultants had risen by 22% since 1996, and that individuals were 19% more productive.
CIC chief executive Graham Watts said the report underlined the mismatch between consultants' true value and how society perceived them.
Watts said: "It's a significant income that is completely underestimated by the government and society. We laud the music and entertainment industries for their contributions to the UK economy – but our architects, engineers and surveyors do so much more."
The survey, called Survey UK: Construction Professional Services 2001/2, also revealed increasing consolidation in the sector, with 3% of firms generating 60% of fee income. And those generating the income are increasingly multidisciplinary firms, which made up 5% of the industry in 1995/6 and 18% in 2001/2.
The report underlined the extent to which the sector is becoming integrated into the European Union's single market. This accounted for £800m of earnings last year.
The report was written by Davis Langdon Consultancy for the CIC and funded by the DTI.