Billing rates are increasing faster for senior personnel in design and environmental consulting firms than they are for technical-level employees. This is one of the many findings of the newly released 2001Fee & Billing Survey of AIEIP & Environmental Consulting Firmsfrom ZweigWhite. According to the survey, median billing rates for planners and scientists with less than five years of experience have each increased less than 10% since 1998, while rates for senior associates and principals of all disciplines have each increased more than 15% in the same period. In 1998, the median hourly rate for a planner's time was $65 and has since only increased to $70. Similarly, the rate for a scientist's time has increased from $60 per hour in 1998 to $65 per hour in 2001. At the other end of the scale, hourly billing rates for senior associates increased from a median of $100 in 1998 to $120 this year, and principals from $115 in 1998 to $135 in 2001. Ray Kogan, a principal at ZweigWhite, says one reason for the uneven increases in billing rates is that there is greater demand for senior managers' time. "Because clients, no matter whether private or public sector have so much on the line when they develop projects (lots of their money, lots of other people's money, reputations, careers, etc.), they seek out the best talent they can find to give them the comfort that their projects won't have major problems," says Kogan. Ultimately, senior personnel are more likely to give clients that warm and fuzzy feeling, and clients are willing to pay for it. ZweigWhite's Fee & Billing Survey of AIEIP & Environmental Consulting Firms has data for 10 of the largest markets in the A/E/P and environmental consulting industry. The survey reports fees both as a percentage of discipline construction costs and as a percentage of total construction costs, so firms can compare between markets. It also breaks down billing rates for 29 different levels of employees in the design and environmental consulting industry.

The 2001 Fee & Billing Survey of AIEIP & Environmental Consulting Firms is available from the publisher for $275, plus $4 shipping and handling. Contact ZweigWhite, P.O. Box 8325, One Apple Hill Drive, Natick, MA 01760, tel: 508-651-1559, fax: 508-653-6522, email or visit our web site at

Who Makes the Most?

A survey conducted by Abbott, Langer & Associates has found that the composite highest-income practitioner in the field of consulting engineering (salary plus cash bonus and/or cash profit sharing) is the President "A" (defined as a chief executive officer who is the owner of, a full partner in, or a major stockholder in the firm). The firm provides services in environmental, civil (general), electrical (primarily not electronics), or mechanical (hvac, piping, plumbing) engineering; receives in excess of $5,000,000 in gross annual fees for services rendered; has 25 or more employees; and is headquartered in or near Riverside/San Bernadino (CA), Salt Lake City/ Ogden/Provo, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, Milwaukee, Oakland/East Bay, Lexington, Jackson (MS), Dallas/Ft. Worth, Sacramento, Eugene/Springfield (OR), or San Diego, or outside the major metropolitan areas studied in North Carolina. This individual has a B.S. in engineering or a graduate degree, and at least 10 years of experience. While the median President "A" has a total annual income of $100,000, the highest-income individuals reported in this group make well over $700,000. Far to the other end of the income spectrum, Junior Drafters have a median income of $19,344. Sometimes earning as little as $12,480, the lowest-paid employees in this group usually are located in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Birmingham, Jackson (MS), Columbus (OH), Richmond/Petersburg, Nashville, Atlanta, or Cincinnati, or outside metropolitan areas studied in Mississippi or New York; work for firms providing services in surveying, civil (general), mechanical (HVAC, piping, plumbing), or civil (primarily land development) engineering; have under three years of experience; and have little or no college training. These composites represent the briefest possible "boil-down" of the voluminous data provided regarding current salaries and cash bonuses and/or profit sharing, and numerous demographic variables provided by 468 consulting engineering firms regarding over 10,000 employees in 237 benchmark jobs. The end results of the survey, sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers, appear inCompensation in Consulting Engineering and Land Surveying Firms, Seventh Edition, a 1,517-page statistical analysis of compensation in this field. The four-volume report (Volume 1: supervisory & managerial jobs; Volume 2: non-supervisory engineers & scientists; Volume 3: CADD/Design/Draffing jobs; and Volume 4: laboratory/surveying/technician jobs), is available for $725.00 from Abbott, Langer & Associates, Inc., Dept. NR, 548 First St., Crete, IL 60417 (telephone 708/672-4200; fax 708/672-4674; The volumes can be purchased separately for $295.00 for either Volume 1 or Volume 2, $195.00 for either Volume 3 or Volume 4.

How Does Gender Figure In?

Even in the 21st century, where equal opportunity is supposed to be second nature, there is still a huge amount of disparity between male and female executives in most AEC firms. In fact, women constitute only 9% of all principals in A/E/P and environmental consulting firms, and an even smaller percentage of owners, according to ZweigWhite's 2001Principals, Partners & Owners Survey. A recent article on highlights the particular challenges that face women principals and proprietors in the AEC industry. The fact is, women principals and proprietors are forced to deal with a number of issues that their male counterparts would never even have to consider. Conmunity Sciences Corporation (Corrales, NM) President Georgia Spirock knows the drill all too well. "Most of my experience has been with firms that don't have women in upper management," she says. "Many times, I have to stop and think about how a man would do or say something in order to communicate better. There's definitely a difference in reception." "It's interesting," says Amy Haugerud, president of A/E firm, and AECWorkForce participant, Rosewater Engineering (Seattle, WA). "Some of the times I've been underestimated in this industry, it's been out of pure bias. But more often than not, it simply comes from an older generation of men who have just never contemplated having a woman in this position. They're just puzzled by it." So what is being done to encourage women to take the plunge into firm ownership? In conjunction with affirmative action laws, some states regulate that minority- or women-owned firms do a certain portion of the work on government contracts. Though she sees these types of government programs as a positive step for women, Anne Marble, president of A. D. Marble & Company (Rosemont, PA), knows they can also act as a double-edged sword. ""That can become a little bit of a stigma," she says. "Some people see you as a minority player that can only do 15% of a project." What about family? One of the traditional knocks on women employees has been the assumption that pregnancy and child rearing would negatively impact their careers. How are women balancing the responsibility of a high-ranking executive position and motherhood? "Both sides have to give a little bit," says Denise Duffy, who runs Denise Duffy & Associates (Monterey, CA), in addition to being a mother of two. "Three days after giving birth, I was at home holding a baby in one hand and a fax from a client in another. You really don't get the opportunity to take much time off when you're an owner."

To read the full article on women in the workplace, She's the boss, go to the AEC Trends archive at