The highest paying jobs in construction, architecture and engineering | Main Region | UB

The highest paying jobs in construction, architecture and engineering 2023 - 2024

two construction professional in the construction site
The construction industry continues to have a significant impact on the Australian economy, with the industry generating nearly $360 billion in revenue, or nine per cent of Australia’s GDP. It also accounts for 8.7 per cent of the total workforce of the country, with employment growth set to rise 6.8 per cent by November 2025. 
So what does the future hold for construction?
  • Population growth will place increased pressure on ageing assets, roads, public transport and other infrastructure. 
  • Momentum towards climate change mitigation will quicken, meaning existing and future infrastructure will need to be adapted. 
  • Inflation and labour shortages are causing a constrained labour market.
  • Digital transformations will begin to be leveraged and integrated in the sector.
This will create significant demand on not only construction, but architecture and engineering as well - and the skills required are in short supply, heightening salaries across the board.
If you're planning your future career goals and want a long and happy working life, don’t just focus on going after the jobs with the highest salary. However, knowing what jobs pay the best can help you map out future career moves.

For organisations, being aware of the salaries across your industry can help to drive your talent strategies and leave you well-positioned to attract the right talent to your organisation. 

The highest paying construction, architecture and engineering jobs in Australia in 2023 - 2024

We’ve pulled together the highest paying roles in construction, architecture and engineering in Australia based on the findings from the latest Hays Salary Guide.
While most of the salaries listed here are for roles in Sydney, there are a few exceptions that we highlight.

Construction: Construction manager (up to $320K)

The construction sector has many in-demand and high paying roles across different areas such as residential, building and civil sectors. Building construction manager remains the highest paying job in this industry, with an average salary range of $250-320K. With increased demand for infrastructure due to rapid population growth, new demand in the sustainability sector and continued labour shortages among other factors, construction managers are well placed and more relied upon than ever to be able to lead increased project volumes.
Construction managers are responsible for overseeing projects from inception to delivery and are expected to be able to liaise with other construction professionals and the client. This requires excellent communication and collaboration skills, the ability to understand project lifecycles and strong technical construction skills such as carpentry, surveying and plumbing built from years of experience in the industry.
In contrast, in civil construction, the highest typical salaries for construction managers comes in at $260K in both Melbourne and regional Victoria
In residential construction, both construction managers and project managers are the highest earning positions in this area, both taking home a typical salary of $190K. As we look at the different professions across residential construction, a site manager averages a salary of $180K, and a foreperson earns $155K.   

Engineering: Project manager (up to $255K)

In engineering, several roles have salaries of over $150K. From civil to electrical, skills are in short supply and high demand, driving higher salaries. Skilled migration can go some way to helping fill shortages, however the difficulty for overseas-trained engineers to receive accreditation in Australia slows the process down.
Demand for transport infrastructure means rail engineers are among the top earning professionals in the engineering sector. These roles include project managers ($140-255K), systems assurance specialists ($122-300K) and signalling specialists ($102-250K).

Construction: Design manager (up to $240K)

Design managers are also in short supply and therefore one of the most highly paid professions in building construction. Design managers are tasked with coordinating the design function during construction projects, bringing together architects and engineering teams to create the designs which are then used to build and maintain the structure. Design managers in building construction can typically take home $210K, with salaries reaching as high as $240K in Sydney.
In civil construction, while average salaries are lower, design managers can still earn a salary of $150K on average and as high as $190K in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Construction: Senior estimator (up to $200K)

A senior estimator’s main responsibility includes being able to evaluate everything from the cost, resources, labour and time required for construction projects. Infrastructure demand means estimators are required to ensure resources are properly managed and deadlines are met, meaning they’re in high demand and salaries on offer reflect this.

Estimators across all seniority levels in building construction can be compensated generously, with senior estimators commonly taking home a salary of $150K, although across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and regional NSW and Victoria, that salary can stretch up to $200K. Junior to intermediate estimators can earn a salary of $120K on average. 

Engineering: Systems assurance specialists (up to $300K)

Systems assurance specialists have the highest potential earnings when it comes to salaries in the engineering sector, with those in Sydney able to take home up to $300K a year. Typical salaries for the role however range from $153K to $220K depending on location. 
The substantial salary average reflects not only the demand but the crucial role the position plays in rail engineering, ensuring compliance with safety standards as well as managing risk, hazard identifications and meeting standards across all project stages including design, construction, operation and maintenance.

Engineering: Principal/Director of design (up to $250K)

Principals and directors in engineering, particularly in the design space, are among the highest earners in engineering in Australia, with an average salary that can reach up to $250K in both Sydney and Melbourne.
In today’s rapidly moving building landscape, effective principals are being relied upon more than ever, especially when it comes to both building design and civil and structural engineering. Group managers and principals in structural engineering can also see a general salary as high as $250K. Principals are backed by years of experience across a vast portfolio of projects, which places them as the most skilled engineer on any project. They oversee and manage the full design process, from research and development all the way to the design as well as being responsible for the guidance and consulting of other engineers involved. 

Architecture: BIM/CAD manager ($150K)

The jobs market for professionals in architecture has improved significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19. Shortages in skilled candidates have helped to inflate architecture salaries offered by employers. BIM/CAD managers earn the highest salaries in the architecture sector, collecting $150K a year on average.
A BIM manager oversees an organisation’s building information modelling process and needs to possess exemplary people management skills as they work as the mediator between multiple stakeholders such as architects, designers and clients. CAD managers are responsible for overseeing the computer-aided design team and ensuring smooth operation of its systems.

Architecture: Senior planner (up to $150K)

Population growth and increased infrastructure from rail to roads, means demand and pay are being heightened for experienced senior planners. Planners contribute and coordinate planning reports, strategic projects, planning proposals and development applications.
Senior planners with more than five years’ experience in the industry can earn a salary as high as $150K in Sydney and Perth. Planners with two to five years’ experience meanwhile can earn up to $110K if they are located in Perth.

Find more of Australia’s highest paying jobs

Construction, architecture and engineering professionals have become some of the highest earners in Australia, thanks to an increased demand that far outweighs the skills present. If you’re thinking about a career change into any of these areas, it’s time to start mapping out what steps you need to take to reach one of these high earning positions. 
For more information on which jobs pay the most in Australia across other industries, and even more detail on the salaries for construction, architecture and engineering, download the Hays Salary Guide. Our flagship report is full of findings pertinent to employers and candidates making smarter decisions in the world of work and offers an insightful portrait of typical salaries across 28 sectors and industries.

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