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AEC Compensation Trends

AEC Compensation Trends

By Keith Sequeira, Director of Data Analytics at Zweig Group

Zweig Group’s 2024 Salary Reports show a 6.6 percent average salary increase.

Zweig Group’s recently released 2024 Salary Reports of AEC Firms are the most up-to-date compensation survey reports for AEC firms operating in any region of the US. These reports are based on a comprehensive salary survey of hundreds of industry individuals and firms, and are presented in three separate regional editions: North and South Atlantic, Central, and Pacific and Mountain.

Here are some key findings from the reports:

  •  Salaries have increased across the board. On average, firms raised salaries by approximately 6.6 percent. Zweig Group observed significant salary growth for professionals with more than 15 years of experience, particularly in the construction sector, where there was an 11.9 percent rise. Experienced non-licensed technical roles also experienced a significant increase with senior level civil engineering technicians seeing a 12.7 percent increase. Throughout 2023, firms consistently applied their 2022 strategies, emphasizing talent attraction and retention. Additionally, it was highlighted that senior roles, including those of firm principals, CEOs, managing partners, and department managers saw higher than average increases in base salaries.
  •  Regional differences. Firms in the Central US only raised salaries by 3.75 percent, while firms in the Eastern U.S. and Mountain-Pacific regions increased salaries by 6.7 percent and 6 percent respectively. The average project manager in the Mountain-Pacific region had 17 years of experience and made $125,000. For the same role in the Central region we found the average project manager had 15 years of experience and made $111,000. In the Eastern region it was 14 years and $122,000. Engineering firms with more than 500 employees saw the highest year-over-year increase in base compensation–8.7 percent versus 3.7 percent for firms with fewer than 500 employees.
  •  A focus on architecture and interior design. Observations from the 2024 Salary Report highlight increases in salaries for architecture and interior design. Architects in project manager roles have seen their salaries increase by 9.4 percent to $116,000, while interior designers in associate or department manager roles have seen an 11 percent increase with base salaries now at $110,000. This rise in compensation corresponds with industry shifts toward sustainable design, collaborative project delivery methods, and digital transformation with advanced tools like BIM and VR. Additionally, the industry is adapting to flexible work arrangements, prompting firms to revise compensation and benefits to attract top talent. These changes reflect an evolving landscape where skilled professionals in sustainable practices and digital technologies are increasingly valued.

The 2024 Salary Reports include the most comprehensive compensation data for AEC firms operating in any region of the US. Based on data gathered between January 2023 and December 2023, from a broad sampling of engineering and architecture firms in the US, these reports are an industry standard for firm leaders and human resources directors looking to benchmark their staff’s compensation. Click here for the full report or to learn more. 

Keith Sequeira is director of data analytics at Zweig Group. Contact him at ksequeira@zweiggroup.com.