Swap ‘BIM’ for ‘digital’ and earn a better salary

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A job title with ‘digital’ in it offers a better salary than one with ‘BIM’ in it. That’s one of the key findings from the Women in BIM Digital Construction Global Work Survey 2024.

Dr Jenni Barrett, principal lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, presented highlights from the survey, which will be published in full soon, at the recent Women in BIM London conference.

The survey generated 461 responses from 47 countries, creating a total of 87 different job titles among respondents: BIM manager was the most common. Dr Barrett told the audience: “When people have BIM in their job title, they are paid less than those who have digital in their job title.”

Furthermore, she noted that often those with BIM job titles did the same job as those with digital job titles. “They’re dealing with digital twins, generative AI and other digital technologies, way beyond what a BIM manager or BIM coordinator role actually describes – and they’re not getting the same pay as those with digital in their job titles.”

More than a third of the respondents have more than 10 years’ experience in digital work. More than half of the respondents have a requirement to train others. Dr Barrett noted that these tended to be the most junior roles and paid the least, “so those who are most crucial to the rapid development of digital construction don’t receive the reward that they deserve”.

She noted a key disparity between ‘BIM’ and ‘digital’: “BIM seems to be used mostly in job titles in the northern hemisphere, while digital gets used mostly in the southern hemisphere.”

A table showing global disparity in BIM salary from the Women in BIM survey
Move to North America if you want the best salary for your BIM or digital role!

BIM is not a meritocracy

There are big disparities in pay across the world: for example, North America offers the best pay for BIM and digital roles, while South America offers the lowest. The UK is slightly behind the US and ahead of Europe in terms of pay.

Dr Barrett said: “Salaries across the globe in digital construction are less likely to be determined by educational attainment and experience. It’s not a meritocracy. This is the early development of a profession, and this is something we would expect to see. But as we see digital construction mature as a profession, we hope we will see that change.”

Inevitably, gender pay gaps were observed around the world.

Dr Barrett said: “Now we’ve got the evidence, it’s about opening those conversations up and identifying and prioritising which projects we need to put in place to change to make digital construction more equitable, more understandable and better structured as an emerging profession.”

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