Flash back five years, when fees stood at $2.2 billion (remember, they are now at $3.5 billion). Since then, business on a pure dollar basis has expanded 59 percent—a heck of a run in any industry. Another interesting stat: Firms are getting more out of their designers than ever before, as fees per employee topped $300,000 for the first time, up 15 percent. (Staffers report that 80 percent of their time was billed to clients.) Sweet numbers, indeed.
Green continues to bring in the green, though the numbers haven’t increased. Has growth topped out? Time will tell. Roughly half of all fees come from sustainable design—$1.7 billion—and 42 firms get more than half their fees from green work. A quarter of design employees are LEED accredited, and about half of all projects followed LEED guidelines. Of the products installed, 58 percent were sustainable. Green square footage has remained consistent for three years at 56 percent.
With business so strong, staffing remains a significant concern, especially recruiting talent and training everyone. The total staff number is around 15,000, and firms predict hiring nearly 1,200 more. The average salary for designers dropped from $71,000 to $65,000—let’s hope that’s a statistical anomaly. Project managers ($99,000 to $107,000) and principals/partners ($150,000 to $200,000) got nice raises.
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