Recession Paradox and Architectural Salaries

5 August 2022

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With the daily news presenting a barrage of negative stories from Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis and now the impending UK recession, it would be natural to assume the architectural jobs market is equally depressed and there aren’t any exciting opportunities to get your career back on track following the pandemic. Having started in architectural recruitment in 2000 and been through a fair number of economic downturns, the one trend that has stood out is how quickly architectural jobs have declined before the rest of the economy. In the 2008 economic collapse, we saw the downturn around 6 months earlier than the fall in stock markets. The unusual situation at the moment is that although interest rates are rapidly increasing, we are still receiving a record number of jobs and practices are finding it especially difficult to recruit new staff. Whether there is still a backlog of work from the pandemic, or the cost-of-living crisis is not affecting the people looking to build, studios are regularly calling us to say how surprisingly busy they are. The high end residential and housing sectors appear to be the strongest but we are also seeing a number of opportunities within the commercial office and mixed-use sectors.

There are still many difficult issues for practices to navigate as most are finding fees are being undercut whilst at the same time, staff seek higher salaries to compensate the increased living costs. These salary negotiations are often seeing some notable rises but still a long way behind the current rate of inflation of 9.4% and other benefits are becoming a bigger influence. Flexible working is highly desirable for employees whereas employers are often keen to return to a traditional 5 days/week in the office. Invariably a compromise of 4 days in the office is struck.

In terms of levels, the most sought-after candidates tend to be the experienced architectural assistants through to architects with around 5 years post part 3. Following a particularly large number of EU architects leaving the UK over the last couple of years, this section of the architectural workforce appears to have seen the greatest skills shortages. Beyond this, practices are often looking quite top-heavy and will tend to promote from within if there is a particular requirement. This has led to quite a number of staff feeling they have reached a glass ceiling within their business and either considering setting up on their own or seeking to join larger offices to progress their careers further.

If you have found your career has stagnated since the pandemic or your salary has not increased relative to your outgoings, please take a look at some of our latest roles below. There are some truly exceptional design studios looking to expand and offer great experience to anyone wishing to work on award-winning schemes:

£30,000 - £35,000

£35,000 - £40,000

£40,000 - £50,000

£50,000+

 

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