Whether we like it or not, the salary for doing the same job or work varies depending on where you do it. There has long been an economic imbalance in the UK, and the gulf has widened in the decade since the financial crisis.
But there are some signs, in certain areas at least, where things are picking up, and the scales might be tipping ever-so-slightly towards a bit more balance.
So where, according to the APM Salary and Market Trends 2019 survey, are the top paying places to be a project professional at the moment?
London: still top of the table
It will surprise no one to hear that London still tops the table when it comes to pay. A quarter (25 per cent) of project professionals working in the capital earn over £70,000 per year, with the median salary sitting at £52,500 – 1.4 times the median salary in the lowest paid area.
However, the average salary for those working in London has dropped to its lowest level since 2016. This may be due to an influx of new starters in the profession, with 22 per cent having up to two years’ experience compared to 15 per cent in the last survey.
Those working outside the UK earn a similar salary – 35 per cent of project professionals working abroad earn more than £70,000 a year.
West Midlands: jumping up
Project professionals working in the West Midlands earned 12 per cent more on average last year than they did the year before, making the region the fastest growing when it comes to pay. It now stands at a median of £47,500, in line with the joint second-best regions for earnings – the South East, East Midlands, Scotland and the North West.
The North West pays more than the North East (just)
Project professionals in the north west get paid £5,000 more on average than those in the north east. One factor that could play a part in this is the development of Manchester, which has growing media and financial sectors. This has created many jobs and triggered a number of developments as a result, such as the £200m St Michael’s development and the Tower of Light, the £18m renewable energy project that doubles as a sculptural landmark.
Hopefully the north east will start to see the same kind of development work in the near future.
In Wales, project professionals are earning around £10,000 less than many regions of the UK, and at least £5,000 less elsewhere. Around 42 per cent of project professionals in Wales earn less than £35,000.
There are signs as to why this might be: R&D spending in Wales is disproportionally low, according to Welsh politicians: “In 2016, of the £2.2 billion spent on research and development by UK Government, £54 per person was spent in London and the Home Counties, just £5 per person was spent in Wales,” writes Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth.
There is also a lack of business space in Wales, according to property consultancy firm JLL, which is holding back economic growth. Something needs to change.
Overall, project professionals are positive
The average salary across the UK has remained stable at £47,500 and compares favourably with the average general UK salary of £29,574.
Project professionals are also more positive about their future pay packages than they were in 2017. Seven out of ten project professionals expect their pay to increase over the next 12 months compared to the two-thirds who said the same in 2017. More project professionals are happy in their roles too; 81 per cent say they’re satisfied with their current role, compared to 79 per cent in the previous year.
Brought to you by Project journal.