Architect Salary


One of the most common misconceptions about architects is that they are all the same and will do the same job.  This could not be farther from the truth and in fact architects all have their own style and specializations.  Want to know how much architects make?  We will go over an architect salary in this article.

Architect Salary

What is the salary of an architect?  Currently, the average annual salary for an architect is about $74,000 while the average monthly wage is about $6,200.  The top 10% make around $120,000 while the starting salary can be as low as $45,000.  The top paying states are California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, New Jersey & Georgia.

In addition to the regular annual salary some firms may pay fees toward continuing education requirements for their architects.  An architect’s salary can vary depending not only on the firm they work for, but also on their individual experience.  Those with more experience and or licensing with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) usually can expect higher wages.

Architect Job Description

Architects are individuals that plan and design different kinds of buildings from homes to office to prisons.  They can work on public or private projects.

Most architects work for architecture firms, but there are a few that have enough experience that they can work for themselves outside of a firm.  Because they are usually commissioned by an individual or organization architects are often required to meet with clients to discuss objectives, requirements, costs of projects, etc.  Sometimes they even offer and can perform pre-design services like environmental impact reports, site selection, or cost analyses.

After the initial proposal is discussed with a client architects then begin designing with meticulous drawings, these days usually done on a computer.  They include all aspects of buildings in their designs including, heating and ventilation systems, electrical systems, plumbing, etc.

They are also responsible for ensuring that they are following all building codes, zoning laws, fire regulations, and other ordinances such as accessibility for the disabled.  Once building has begun architects may visit the construction site to ensure that contractors are following the plans, staying on schedule, using the requisite materials, and following all safety codes.  Additionally, they may help clients get negotiate construction contracts.

Work Environment

Most work for architecture firms, engineering divisions, or in other service related industries with a few being self employed.  Architects work mostly in offices where they meet with clients and develop projects.  They usually utilize a computer for most of their designing with CADD programs.  Once a project is under way they may visit the construction site from time to time to for progress checks.

Architects typically work full time and most have to work overtime when facing deadlines because jobs are usually project based.  Self-employed architects may have more flexible hours, but they tend to have to work long hours as well.

How to become an Architect

There are three basic steps to becoming a licensed architect.  They include completing a professional degree in architecture, gaining relevant experience, and passing the Architect Registration Exam (ARE).

Most bachelor degree programs in architecture take an average of five years to complete and costs between $19,791 and $30,000 a year.  Some even go on to obtain a master’s degree in architecture which can take an additional 1-5 years of education.  A typical BA program includes courses in architectural history, building design with an emphasis in computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) as well as other courses in math, physics, and construction methods.  Currently, 35 states require that architects have a professional degree from one of 123 architecture schools accredited with the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

In addition to formal education all states require that architecture graduates complete a paid internship of at least 3 years before they can take the Architect Registration Exam.  Graduates typically complete their training period through working at architectural firms through the Intern Development Program.  During the internship graduates help with a number of tasks from preparing drawings to helping design a part of a project.

All states require architects to be licensed through the ARE and most states require continuing education for architects.  A growing number of professionals also seek additional accreditation from the NCARB.

Career Outlook

By 2022 employment opportunities for architects is projected to grow at a rate of 17%; faster than average for all occupations.  As homes, offices, schools, etc. need to be renovated architects will be in higher demand.  Also, due to the aging baby boomer population more healthcare facilities will be required thus increasing the demand for architects.  There is a projected demand for architects with knowledge on green design as many new buildings now utilize sustainable designs.

While demand for architects is expected to grow over the next several years they are subject to the activity of the construction industry.  This means that architects may experience stretches of unemployment when there are slowdowns in requests for projects or when the overall construction level drops.

Related Careers

Landscape architects plan and design land areas for parks, rec facilities, homes, or campuses.  Like architects they spend much of their time in offices researching, planning, and designing commissioned projects.  The rest of the time is spent at the job site overseeing construction.  Their average annual salary is $64,180 a year.

Urban and regional planners develop plans for land use.  These plans help generate communities, accommodate for population growth, and revitalize parts of towns and cities.  Most work for governments and often attend neighborhood meetings to seek out the needs of different communities.  The average annual wage for an urban and regional planner is $65,230 per year.

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