Monday, June 16, 2008

How do you set non-management salaries?

June…a month for barbeques, brides, and PSMJ trying to figure out how to help our clients determine reasonable and appropriate salaries for non-management level employees at A/E firms.

Benchmarking management salaries is extremely important - both to the managers themselves and to clients of A/E firms. It's a pretty straightforward process and it's best to benchmark management salaries by peer group and the type of services you provide.

Benchmarking non-management salaries is much harder. Sometimes we get calls that go like this: "what is the median salary for a CAD operator in San Francisco 5 years after receiving a degree in a 30-person architecture firm?" How could any firm realistically collect and report this sort of data with any degree of credibility?

There is some data being collected by the associations, but I don't think it's terribly useful because if it were I wouldn't get the number of calls I get for non-management salary data. Other than wage indicies that are available in the public domain (not very robust and probably not really useful to A/E firms) and job search Web sites like (these figures are ALWAYS skewed in favor of the job seeker) there is very little out there.

My question is, how are you determining salary levels for your non-management employees? Are you using formal data derived from surveys of A/E firms? Association data? Let me know at


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