How Much Do Architects Make? A Guide to Architect Salaries

Ian Mutuli
Updated on

Where would the world be without architects? Not very far. Every structure you see around you was once an idea in the mind of a brilliant architect. Architects are responsible for ensuring that society continues to run smoothly by providing functional and sustainable living spaces.

Whether you are an architect or an aspiring architect, you'll learn a lot in this article that covers the topic of how much do architects make. We'll look at architect salaries and some ways in which you can earn more as an architect.

What Is the Average Salary for Architects?

The average annual architect salary in the United States is about $93,548. However, this architect salary can go as high as $151,388 per year. As an architect, the salary you get depends on several factors, which we'll look at later in the article.

Architects in the United States earn differently depending on several factors such as the state they're in, experience, size of the firm, and so much more. Sometimes, continuing education can allow you to earn more as you will be improving your skills.

We'll look at some of the ways to increase your payments so that you can earn some of the highest salaries in the field.

How Can You Increase Your Architect Salary?

1. Ask for A Raise

If you are already on an architect's salary and want to earn more, the easiest step to make is to ask for a raise. Although it may seem like a daunting task, the truth is that the answer will always be no unless you ask. However, if the conversation doesn't go as you wish, you will learn how to go about it next time or what you need to do to get that raise.

You can start looking for other opportunities in the worst-case scenario, where your request is denied, and you feel like you will never progress. The secret to this method is that you should always go to your employer with supporting data on why you deserve a raise.

This may help smooth things along and make your case. You can mention the number of work hours you put in and your efforts' significant contributions to the firm.

2. Get Licensed

Once you're done with school, you'll need to get licensed by the state you live in or intend to work. You will get your license once you've passed the Architect Registration Examination. Once this happens, you can now go and work for big architecture firms that will pay you big bucks.

You can also get voluntary certification which is offered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Having a license will qualify you for jobs you would otherwise not have gotten if you didn't have one.

3. Specialize

There are several types of architects in the construction industry. To earn the most in this field, you may want to specialize in an area you are passionate about. This will make you a sought-after professional because the competition will be low, and you will be working from your heart.

Many clients know that getting the right type of architect for the job improves the chances of success. Therefore, if you are specialized, you may end up getting several clients who want your specific service. Specialized architects include commercial architects, industrial architects, residential architects, landscape architects, urban design architects, green design architects, etc.

4. Focus on Profitable Projects

If you want to earn more than the average salary for architects, you can focus on profitable projects. Ensure that you stay on schedule and within the budget. In addition, you can choose to focus on projects that are sustainable and eco-friendly.

This means that you'll use a lot of available materials and therefore make a profit. This can then translate to clients paying your firm more money, and you get more than your average annual salary.

5. Improve Your Skill Set

The more you add to your professional skills, the higher your architect salary will become. So, in addition to finishing your bachelor's degree, going for your master's degree, passing your Architect Registration Exam, and becoming a licensed architect, you'll also need to add more skills.

Architect salaries can vary depending on what said architect could do. Therefore, if you want to increase your average annual salary, you'll need to have more knowledge. You can start by learning how to use more upcoming architectural softwares, improve your drafting skills and on-field skills, learn how to interpret data, improve your communication skills, and so on.

Once you become better at problem-solving, leading a team, and communicating well with clients, your average salary will go up as well.

6. Work Overtime

If your firm increases the salary for an architect who works more hours, you can put in some overtime work. How much architects earn is sometimes dependent on their billable hours. Nonetheless, if your architectural firm does not do this, you can opt for another method.

On the other hand, you can also put in more hours to finish projects faster. This can, in turn, translate into bonus points which can increase your average salary. The company can also increase your architect salary due to your initiative.

7. Start Your Own Firm

If you feel like your efforts are not translating into a higher architect salary, you can opt to go out on your own. However, the best time to do this is not when you are fresh from a paid internship and don't have any real experience.

Wait until you have learned how to work as an architect and have enough experience and contacts to go out independently. As we look at how much money architects earn, remember that it also depends on effort. If you are willing to work and look for clients, you will also reap the rewards.

In addition to your architect salary going up, you'll still be able to offer employment to architecture graduates who are now coming into the field. You will then be the one to determine how much architect salary they are worth.

8. Work for A Firm that Pays More

You can move to work for a more prominent firm that pays more if you want to increase your architect salary. However, remember that architect salaries are sometimes dependent on how much the firm makes. Therefore, you can move to a more prominent architectural firm if you currently work in a small one.

The salary for an architect can increase if they move to a more prominent firm. However, remember that your architect salary doesn't have to increase just because you work at a more prominent firm.

9. Relocate to Another State

There are always job opportunities waiting for you to find them. All states require architects who can help move their state forward. You can check labor statistics to see if the state's architect salaries match your expectations in the state you want to move to.

Examples of states where architects earn higher architect salaries include North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, California, Florida, Georgia, and Illinois.

Frequently Asked Questions About Architect Salaries

1. What factors influence the salary of architects?

Some of the factors that influence how much architects in the United States and other countries in the world are paid include the following.

  • Qualifications
  • Licenses and certifications from the relevant boards
  • Design skills
  • Level of experience
  • Understanding of building codes
  • Size of the architectural firm
  • Availability of projects
  • Size of projects
  • Bylaws of the architectural firm
  • The ambition of the architect

2. Is architecture a good career option today?

Yes. As long as society continues to grow and expand, we will always need architects. Therefore, this is not a practice that is on the brink of death. As we've seen above, you can make a decent living as an architect even if you are new to the career field.

Depending on the position you hold and the location you are in, your salary will be different. Nonetheless, architects are often ranked as some of the highest-paid professionals in society. They are up there with financial advisors, real estate tycoons, healthcare professionals, and even Wall Street brokers.

3. Should you work for an architectural firm or take on individual contracts?

The answer depends on your preference. As long as you have the needed or required qualifications to practice architecture, you can go out on your own or work for a firm. However, if you are still new to the field, you may opt to work for an architectural firm or other engineering companies to get experience and contacts.

Architects earn higher salaries based on several factors, especially when they're working in a firm. We've looked at some of these above. Nonetheless, you can choose to work for a firm with a constant flow of projects before you choose to venture out independently.

4. What influences architect salaries in different regions?

Rural areas tend to have lower salaries compared to large cities. Other than the level of development, other factors that determine the salary of architects include the cost of living, standards of living, availability of resources, and more. 

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.