NCE has carried out a comprehensive survey of civil engineers' pay, conditions and career development. Ahead of the report's launch at Civils 2002 Antony Oliver takes a peak at early results.
It's official. Civil engineers' salaries are on the up! Across the spectrum of age, responsibility, job and qualification, NCE 's just completed survey of the civil engineering profession shows pay increases over the last three years have far outstripped inflation.
Perhaps predictably, the biggest jumps have been in the salaries of young engineers.
Since NCE 's last survey in 1999, the average pay of an engineer under the age of 25 has leapt from £15,455 to £21,892 - a rise of 42% in less than three years, equivalent to around 33% in real terms.
Yet these gains are reflected, if not exactly matched across civil engineering's working population. The traditional 'midcareer' engineer between the ages of 35 and 39 is now earning on average £37,837, up 25% from £30,204 in 1999 - an increase of 18% in real spending power.
Further up the scale, senior engineers between 50 and 54 years old are now commanding an average salary of £50,705 compared to the £39,222 reported by NCE 's last survey - again, 22% in real terms.
Against current anecdotal evidence from around the sites and design offices of the UK, this rosy picture may appear unfamiliar. But even delving down behind the headlines there is evidence that the increases have been seen across the board, with little regard for level of responsibility.
There is also evidence of rewards for members of the professional institutions outstripping non-members. Employers value professional qualification and are prepared to pay for it.
For example the survey highlights that the average salary of an ICE member has grown from £35,348 in 1999 to £46,792, an increase of 32%. In comparison, the average salary increase for engineers in all age categories varied from just 13% to a maximum of 26%.
The survey, produced in association with the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Environment Agency includes feedback from 2,500 civil engineers. It reveals the issues - in addition to pay - that civil engineers feel would help improve their lot.
For younger engineers opportunities for training, more holidays and more flexibility in their working hours come out top.
Perhaps predictably, for engineers over 30, a shorter working week is the main aspiration.
Civil engineers working in contracting still earn marginally more than those in consulting.
Local government continues to pay lower on average, although the greatest increase for younger engineers appears in this sector.
The industry remains hugely male dominated, with women only accounting for 5% of engineers. But there is evidence that female engineers have seen their pay rise faster than male colleagues, particularly in senior positions.
The bad news is that, across the board, women are still paid less than their male equivalents.
This is particularly acute among mid-career engineers with project management responsibilities where there is evidence that female engineers are earning on average some 35% less and have seen their pay grow by just 9% since 1999 - less than 3% in real terms.
It may also come as a surprise to many graduates and young engineers hearing tales of cost cutting and corporate prudence to find that those at the top of the industry have reported substantial salary gains.
Chairmen and managing directors top the list with a 64% average rise, taking average basic earnings to £139,750. Partners come a close second with a 43% rise in average basic earnings to £81,063.
Arguably this is a positive sign for the future of business management in civil engineering.
Firms are at last rewarding senior figures sufficiently to keep them out of the clutches of other industries keen to make use of and pay for good business management skills.
Location remains a key differentiator of pay in the profession and London and the South East is still the place to earn consistently higher rewards. Londonbased engineers, for example, have seen their pay grow 46% since 1999 to an average of £37,705, an increase of around 37% in real terms.
But there are many new hotspots for engineers including Northern Ireland, which reported average earnings for engineers climbing 59% to £35,813; and Scotland which saw average salaries leap 42% to £34,322 - in real terms rises of around 50% and 34% respectively.
Managers working in the north also saw average salaries jump 65% since 1999 to £47,906. This rise was almost matched by managers in Scotland and in the north west who all saw their pay climb 54% to more than £51,000, outstripping managers in London.
The South West, however, is now the best place to be a manager, with average salaries climbing a massive 94% to £60,897.
It may also come as reassurance to graduate civil engineers facing huge post university debts that the 65% of civil engineers with bachelor degrees have seen pay increase by 32% to £42,431.
Engineers with HNC and HND qualifications also appear to have fared better since 1999 and have seen their average pay climb by 43% to £38,992.
INFOPLUS The NCE salary survey will be launched at Civils 2002 on 11 June. The full 75 page report with commentary, detailed graphs and tables can be purchased for £150. Further details are available from zoe. brymer@. emap. com.
To purchase a copy tel (020) 7505 6622
Engineers average salary by region Area £ average £ average % 2002 1999 nge East Anglia £31,256 £24,535 27 East Midlands £31,687 £23,696 34 London/Greater London £37,705 £25,799 46 North West England £28,496 £25,308 13 Northern England £26,015 £25,019 4 Northern Ireland £35,813 £22,518 59 Republic of Ireland £39,742 - - Scotland £34,322 South East England £35,500 £26,648 33 South West England £31,155 £23,705 31 South West Yorks. /Humb. £25,727 £24,276 6 Wales £25,652 West Midlands £29,905 £24,319 23
Salary by job classification Job classification £ average £ average % 2002 1999 hange Chairman/MD £139,750 £85,343 64 Partner £81,063 Director £58,376 Professor £49,281 0 Manager £47,147 Engineer £32,441
Salary by grade of membership Grade £ average £ average % 2002 1999 hange Fellow 44,598 Member 46,792 Graduate/Associate 31,717 22,863 39 Technician 22,977
Factors affecting quality of working life % More opportunities for training 11 More holidays 16 Shorter working week 23 Flexibility in working hours 11 Working from home 16 Other 22