Careers and Salary Survey 2014: Total earnings

Planning's last salary survey was in the midst of the recession in 2011. So it is no surprise that there is better news this time in terms of earnings.

In 2011, the median pay bracket was £25-£30,000 - a level that had stalled since the previous survey in 2007. Now, the median pay bracket has moved up to £30-£35,000. The number of top earners has also risen. Just 11 per cent of respondents earned more than £50,000 in 2011; now, it is 20 per cent.

As with the findings in 2011, there is still a significant gender difference. The median pay for women is £30-£35,000, compared to £35-£40,000 for men. Three times as many men as women earn more than £100,000, but 17 per cent of women earn under £25,000, as do just nine per cent of their male colleagues.

The gender gap was described as "disappointing" by Planning Officers Society junior vice-president Anna Rose. "In the public sector, job evaluation schemes have worked hard to redress the balance of the sexes," she said.

There is also a marked public-private divide. The median pay bracket for local authority planners is £30-£35,000, up from £25-£30,000 in 2011. But it is still below the median pay bracket for planners in the private sector, which is £35-£40,000.

High-earning council planners are more common than three years ago, with 14 per cent on £50,000 or more, up from six per cent in 2011. But two times as many private sector planners (29 per cent) fall into this category.

However, twice as many planners in the private sector (20 per cent) earn below £25,000 than those working for councils, a difference that has widened since 2011. It may be that private sector planners take lower salaries early in their careers in the hope of greater rewards later.

Many council planners commenting in our survey complained about a relative stagnation in pay, and a growing gap with the private sector causing a talent drain. One wrote: "We have lost a large number of good-quality staff to the private sector as we are unable to compete on pay. The quality of staff in local authorities will inevitably decline."

Another added: "Local authority planners are paid abysmally in relation to other professionals."

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