How Much Do Architects Make?

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Posted By Matthew Von Dohre

While most might think “How much do architects make?” is a straight forward question, it can be rather complex. Many factors affect an architect’s annual wage or salary. With a steady increase in the economy, the job outlook for architects is on the rise.

Be sure to understand the factors that affect their salary, do your research to gain a broader perspective of the national average as well as the median salaries for what architects earn on an average annual basis in the United States.

How architects are compensated

Before we begin to discuss how much architects make, you will need to understand that architects are considered professionals by trade and are more often paid by an annual salary instead of being paid on an hourly basis.

Most architects work for companies with more than one architect, designer or drafter and are not paid per project.

By being paid an annual salary architecture firms can more efficiently estimate the cost to design a project and the number of hours needed to complete it.

Additional compensations that architects can receive include medical benefits, profit sharing, and bonuses all of which can vary based on the compensation package offered by different firms.

Factors affecting the architect’s salary

A lot of factors can affect the compensation that an architect makes such as the state you work in, the years of experience you have, any specialties that you have experience in, your negotiation skills, the size of the firm and the types of work that the firm does.

Typically, the compensation is made up of a salary, bonuses, and benefits which can be very fluid depending on the markets and project workflow at the time you are hired.

Based on several compiled sources an intern might start in the profession with a salary between $26,000 and $53,000 annually while a licensed architect’s salary might start between $60,000 and $84,000 annually once they have obtained a license and have experience in the profession.

Do your Research

To understand how much an architect makes, you need to understand the markets or economy and do your research for the area where you hope to work. Many sources are out there that can help you understand what an architect in your state or area might be making. Remember that architects do not make the same salary in every state or even within the same town. Salaries vary with the size of the firms, the projects they work on and by the city in which the projects are located. Keep in mind that the markets and economy also affect the salary of an architect. Developing projects that slow down or stop can greatly affect the salary and bonuses of an architect.

Resources to use

Professional organizations

Government Resources

Private Resources

Professional organization

One of the resources that I have used heavily in my past is the American Institute of Architects (AIA) compensation calculator and AIA compensation reports which are from the AIA. The AIA Compensation Survey Salary Calculator is a quick online resource that breaks down income, based upon the position classifications, the area of the country, and revenue of the firm.

The salary information is displayed based upon your selection and all respondents showing the mean (arithmetic average – all responses/number of responses) and median (ordering all responses and selecting the middle value of all responses) of the base salary along with additional cash compensation (overtime, bonuses, profit sharing, and other cash) reported.

Your local AIA office can typically provide you with the hard copy of the AIA compensation report to review in their office and take notes from. If you would like to purchase the report you can do so from the AIA online store or link provided  AIA Compensation Report 2017.

Government resources

Another great resource for understanding how much an architect makes is the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. They can provide data based on the Architecture profession more current than the AIA however this is a general overview of the architecture professions. Based on the average data compiled by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics as of May 2018 an Architect’s annually salary can be found here, 17-1011 Architects, Execpt Landscape and Navel and a portion is reference below.

Private Resources

One additional source to look at when trying to understand how much an architect makes is thru the website Glassdoor.  They can provide a lot of information such as a basic overview, more detailed based on experience and even proven information reported from specific companies. Here is a quick overview of their information and a link where you can find out more relating to Architect Salaries.

Now you know

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how much an architect makes along with understanding that it is a complicated question due to the factors that affect their salary. Additionally I hope that you find the resources outlined above helpful when you are doing your own research to understand the factors that affect  the architects salary, use them to guide you in making a decision about the profession or using them to aid you in your next job search.

Thanks for stopping by and good luck on your future endeavors.

Matthew Von Dohre, RA, RID, NCARB  

Have a comment or suggestion for a future blog post? Please let me know in the comments below.

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Barb Nordlund

Well do! And well written.

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