UK MEP / M&E Design Salary Guide Spring 2022

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Posted 16.02.22

UK MEP Design Market Overview

Permanent recruitment:

Well, haven’t things changed for the better since our last, very well received MEP Design Market Overview!

With a largely successful vaccine rollout & the Omicron variant reportedly not causing serious infections, vertical growth in most project sectors has created exponential opportunity for businesses of all sizes across the UK.

Requirements for our clients span every grade, however, most of the roles we have filled have been at intermediate and senior engineer level, with a strong bias on electrical engineers! I personally have focused on a wide array of strategic hires & headhunts over the past year to support client’s growth plans, strengthening their management team, breaking into new sectors & creating new teams/business units.

Over the past 12 months, we have had great success assisting candidates relocating from Hong Kong under the new BNO (British National Overseas) agreement. This has provided us with a great, additional pool of very highly qualified engineers who have worked on an array of projects to British standards. Additionally, there is no need for BNO candidates to be sponsored as they have a 5-year work visa & can apply for settlement in the UK after the 5 year period.

Candidates are very much now in the driving seat. A strong CV with career stability will generate interviews in double figures, easily. Time is critical in the hiring process, with clients who unfortunately take longer to decide on CV’s, book interviews or send offers losing out to their faster competitors daily. Time really is of the essence.

Project sectors with vertical growth have largely been Healthcare, Data Centres, Stadia, Life Science / Pharma, and office fit-out (CAT A+B).

MEP Design Salary Survey*

Structural Design Level Salary
Junior Engineer (1-2years) £25-32k
Intermediate Engineer (2-5years) £34-47k
Senior Engineer (7-10years) £50-65k
Principal Engineer (10-15years) £60-72k
Associate Engineer £68-75k   
Associate Director £75-92k 
Technical Director £85-105k 
Director £95-130k

*Average salaries are based on client surveys, placement records & candidate research. Benefits are not included.

Contract hires:

The introduction of IR35 has undoubtably had an impact on the contractor workforce. Our industry has always been very heavily supported by contractors with the natural peaks and troughs created by projects.

We have seen a slow, but steady increase in contract enquiries from our clients, which have been created due to the sheer demand for permanent talent & clients not being able to wait for the full permanent recruitment process (interviews, notice periods etc.)

Contract candidates naturally prefer Outside IR35 contracts given the “benefits”. The majority of M&E Design Engineers who have a proven track record in contract assignments, are mostly in contracts again; a stark contrast from the beginning of 2021.

Due to the shortage of permanent talent within our beloved sector & the huge amount of demand, I am confident we will see continued growth in the contract market, both inside & outside of IR35, with more clients unfortunately having to accept the higher rate options for contract PAYE candidates, even as a short-term fix until they secure a permanent candidate.

Contract pay rate to candidate:

Structural Engineer Level Contract Salaries Outside IR35
Contract Senior Mechanical Engineer £36-44ph
Contract Senior Electrical Engineer £36-44ph
Contract Senior Public Health Engineer £37-44ph
MEP Resident Engineer  £400-450



2020 lockdowns & the inability for a vast number of Building services engineering graduates to secure opportunities, I fear we may see a talent shortage at intermediate level in the next 2-3 years. This is very similar in my professional opinion, as to why there is a significant shortage in client facing Senior, Principal and Associate levels, due to the 2008-2009 global recession.

Permanent recruitment continues to lead the way, with contract certainly starting to increase.

Time to offer & general decision making in clients recruitment processes are the biggest factor in them not securing talent.

Increased demand from candidates on flexibility to work from home has unsettled a few, but largely the 3 in, 2 WFH model has been, or is starting to be adopted by most across the country.

Hopefully, we will all be able to enjoy the summer with a bit more “normality”!

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You can download our guide below, which is full of insight! Alternatively, if you have any questions about the above, please do not hesitate to get in touch via any of the below.


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