How much are you worth? We always hear that employers pay market rates. But what the hell are the market rates, and who decides this I hear you say? And within the Built Environments it can vary greatly depending on which side of the fence you are positioned.

Below I have put together a guide, and it’s just a guide so don't take this to the bank!

Whether you’re looking for a new role, coming up to a performance review, looking to hire or just wanting to get a better understanding of your worth there’s always going to be that one BIG thing to consider.......the salary. Despite how much you’re told not to talk about it, or that money isn’t everything, let’s be honest, why else are you reading this? ;)

Roles on the dark side (client side) aka Project & Development Management is a consistently evolving industry; one that continues to reward people with great salaries and perks. Naturally, you might be considering just how much you could be earning – or even how much you SHOULD be earning.

Throughout this article, we’ll take a look at a rough estimate of different salaries within the “dark side” of the industry, along with how much you might be able to earn on your way up to the top.

Sure, now you might be a graduate, project administrator/coordinator, grinding out long hours to hit those necessary milestones, but keep working hard and you’ll find yourself in a director’s position before you even know it!

An Essential Salary Guide

This guide breaks down a rough estimate of what you could be earning based on how long you’ve been in the industry and what position you hold. Obviously, there are a number of variations and factors and should just serve as a guideline only, and not gospel.

Maybe you’re coming to the end of your three year stint as an Assistant Project Manager and you are getting ready to jump into the shoes of a Project Manager. You might be wondering how you can progress to the next step, or what things to consider before you even put your application in.

Let’s take a closer look at that just below:

Moving from the contractor side to the client side

Some of you within the industry may have thought about moving from the contractor side to the client side of things. There are a few reasons you might decide to do so; it could offer more benefits, higher pay or it might just be better suited to your individual way of life. One of the key reasons I often hear from people working for Commercial Builders is work life balance.

If you are thinking about moving to a different area within the industry, it’s again extremely important to think about your motivators. Really ask yourself WHY you want to move, and if it will help you achieve your longer-term goal(s).

It may be important to consider that you MIGHT(initially) receive less pay. Client hours are generally less than contractor hours, and if you are a Contract Administrator for example you can kiss goodbye working Saturdays. When doing the math you should always divide your current salary by the amount of hours worked on average and put a premium on days/hours that are important to you.

We know that you might already be very experienced within the contractor side, but over on the dark side, things can be very different. You might have similar skills, but there will still be alot to learn! You will gain exposure on how to manage the head contract, facilitating PCG meetings, procurement and design development to name a few. Many more doors will become available to you should you wish to get involved across the whole Property/Construction project cycle.  

If you are working for the commercial builder, lets say as a Contract Administrator, the best time to move over to the client side is within the first 5 years, as after this, your salary expectations will be higher than the entry-level client side roles on offer.

Despite this, there may still be more room for growth on the client side of things; there is a current demand for Project Managers with 5+ years of industry experience, specifically across institutional, industrial, healthcare and retail projects.

As there is a high demand, the salary MAY be increased.... so, if you’ve got the 5 years’ experience, what’s holding you back?

20’s for learning, 30’s for earning

It’s commonly understood that you need experience in order to be considered for those big-earner jobs (and you might need a job to have the experience......we know). That’s why they say in the industry that your 20’s should be for learning, and your 30's should be for earning.

Obviously, these aren’t mutually exclusive and there will always be exceptions to the rule; however, as a general idea of the industry expectations, you should focus on learning the ropes early in your career and developing your skills before you apply for Project Management roles. End to end exposure to projects from start to finish, projects that are complex (health, base build retail etc.) or projects with challenging stakeholders will help you level up quicker.

Don’t worry – you’ll still have the opportunity to earn via the ‘five-year rule’! Generally, for the first 5 years of employment, you can expect a salary increase of approximately 10k per year. Following this, it will largely be based on your experience and expertise. That does mean, though, that if you start on a 45k salary, you could be earning nearly DOUBLE that within 5 years.

What motivates you?

Whilst this is not exclusive to the roles on the client side, it’s still extremely important to consider. When you’re planning your next career move, you should think about your motivators. Do you want increased flexibility? A better work life balance? More money? More personal value?

Whether its Personal, Professional or Financial each of these considerations should play directly into what your next step is. Identify your ambitions and where you’d like to go and consider the next role as a ‘stepping-stone’ to reach your ultimate goal. Most people, when they’re looking for a new job, will consider a few things:

- How much does the new job pay?

- Is it more fulfilling, or will it give you job satisfaction?

- Will it improve your work/life balance?

Obviously, there are other aspects that will come into play, but these are three of the most common motivators. It’s important to remember that you likely won’t improve all three from the same position!

You may be able to find a role that improves your work/life balance and provides you with higher pay; it might, however, be less fulfilling. It’s important to consider what you really want before you plan any move.

Let’s be honest here, we are all closet capitalists. As Gordon Gecko of Wall Street says “Greed for lack of a better word, is good. We know why a lot people REALLY look for new jobs: higher pay! If you are looking exclusively for a fatter pay cheque, it’s recommended that you speak with your employer BEFORE you look at external positions. And if that doesn’t fly give me a call, I am always happy to help 😉.

Which beast are you?

You might have heard of ‘finders’, ‘minders’and ‘grinders’ before; three essential building blocks integral to any business. Finders, minders and grinders all have their own unique roles in the business, contributing to its success in various ways.

Let’s look further into this just below:


Don’t worry. You won’t need to sign up to any dating apps. Grinders are the bright young candidates coming out of the top universities. They’re usually 21-25 years old, skilled, talented, ambitious and eager to please. They will be the ones taking on the entry level roles, often with long hours and manual work.

A grinder will be the one analysing information, writing reports, crunching data like a pack of old Oreo's and running queries – essentially, ‘grinding’ away at the groundwork.


Quite literally, a minder will be ‘minding’the ‘grinders’. Because everything needs to rhyme, apparently.

In the Construction space minders will be Senior Project Managers and Construction Managers for example. They’ll all have the relevant experience and use their time wisely to work with clients and keep their team running like a well-oiled machine. They are overseers, working towards the goal of becoming a director, partner – or a finder. Minders, quite frankly, hold the place together, and without them, the whole place would fall apart!

Minders are generally responsible for coaching, training and correcting staff, shaping them into the future minders of the organisation.


Finders are the ones that sit right at the top of the food chain: and typically get paid the big bucks. Are sometimes these people might be equity partners – the people who call the shots. Finders typically are the business owners/directors.They often find or create the success of the company, developing it to become financially successful – they’re in it to win it.

So, why are they called finders? Well – they’re the ones who find the new business. They will hunt for new clients or opportunity, spending up to 80% of their time on business development or management.

So, there you have it. If you want to channel your inner Gordon Gecko, level up in your 20’s, take on bigger and better projects and be a finder! And of course, come and chat with me!!

Kristen Koroneos is our resident client side expert here at Talentscope, a boutique recruitment firm to the Property,Construction &  Engineering sectors.We are expert talent acquisition specialists who have a knack for identifying and acquiring technical, hard to find talent. We combine digital marketing,analytics and recruitment craft to engage and interact with talent much earlier. Kristen specialises in helping people transition into the client side and recruiting Project & Developments professionals within the Building and Construction markets.