Architects salary guide

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The Architects salary

As architects and architecture students, one of the key topics we like to talk about and keep up to date on is the architect’s salary.

Whether you are a student about to become an architectural assistant or intern for the first time, a newly qualified architect, or one with experience, knowing what your salary should be is vitally important.

We all know “architects haven’t been rich for a long time” and that “architecture is a vocation”, but in spite of this an architect’s salary is still well above most (if not all) national averages, and is in fact still a well-paid occupation.

What is an architects average salary (the short answer)

The amount an architect gets paid can vary greatly depending on their position, responsibilities, skill set and of course location. The below provides a quick set of national averages across the profession from the countries we receive the most questions from (going into 2019):

- Architect’s salary USA (2019)

  • Interns/junior architects/junior designers/Architectural Assistants  - $40,000 to $58,000

  • Architect - $60,000 to $90,000

  • Senior associate, partner or director - $60,000 to $150,000

- Architect’s salary Canada (2019)

  • Interns/junior architects/junior designers/Architectural Assistants  - $33,000 to $50,000

  • Architect - $60,000 to $75,000

  • Senior associate, partner or director - $65,000 to $135,000

- Architect’s salary UK (2019)

  • Architectural assistants - £18,000 to £22,000 (part I), up to £35,000 (part II)

  • Architect - £32,000 and £45,000

  • Senior associate, partner or director - £41,000 to £70,000

- Architect’s salary Europe (2019)

  • Interns/junior architects/junior designers/Architectural Assistants  - €18,000 to €28,000

  • Architect - €30,000 to €55,000

  • Senior associate, partner or director - €60,000 to €120,000

- Architect’s salary Dubai (2019)

  • Interns/junior architects/junior designers/Architectural Assistants  - $24,000 to $48,000

  • Architect - $33,000 to $47,000

  • Senior associate, partner or director - $84,000 to $180,000

- Architect’s salary India (2019)

  • Interns/junior architects/junior designers/Architectural Assistants  - ₹180,000 to ₹500,000

  • Architect - ₹216,000 to ₹600,000

  • Senior associate, partner or director - ₹500,000 to ₹1,100,000

It’s worth noting that a lot or architects may have private work and/or other opportunities outside of their day job to further boost their income if they wish to …there are plenty of additional opportunities to increase these averages. 

Do architects get pain well and earn good money?

When asked if an architect gets paid well (a very common question), we believe that collectively the answer is yes. But could we get more? …of course! But who wouldn’t say that?

After all, we spend a huge amount (if not all) of our younger years in education, are required to know everything about anything, and juggle all manners of projects, clients, and responsibilities …we’ll always require more money.

The highest earners in the architectural profession tend to be the partners, directors and owners. The level of income at this level is predominately factored by the size of practice and type of work they take on. For example a partner or director of a practice that specializes in one-off houses will be on a lower income than a more commercially led practice. Simply because the projects at a commercial level are considerably larger and more expensive, requiring higher architectural fees. But generally speaking, are much more efficient to procure, resulting in more profit to the design team.

For this reason large commercial firms tend to pay more, as they are able to take on many of these larger and higher fee earning projects.

…and with these projects comes a hierarchy of managerial positions, providing a clear career path for development with obvious pay increases.

The payoff however is that for most, commercial projects are (architectural speaking) far less interesting and stimulating, as there are very few high profile and iconic concert halls and museums, but many supermarkets and shopping malls.

Furthermore and as mentioned above, there are also many further ways an architect and/or student can boost their income outside of their day to day responsibilities, many are listed here …commercial work is not the only answer.

How to find out what the average salary of an architect is? 

You only have to Google “architects salary” to be confronted with what can be a quite a mixture of conflicting figures and advice.

For example, in the UK CW Jobs has the average wage of an architect going into 2019 as £77,500 (we can tell you straight away that is incorrect, without even looking for a comparison!), whereas RIBA appointments show approximately £27,000 less than this. Which is a good architectural assistants salary on its own! and a significant difference.

In the US the figures still vary but are much closer together, with the majority ranging from $60,000 to $75,000. However the AIA salary calculator that basis’s its figures on their “AIA compensation report” has the average wage at $84,000.

So there is a lot of conflicting data available, that is of course also constantly changing and being updated.

However in short and discussed in detail below, a good rule of thumb is to start with the annual figures your countries governing architecture body releases, and then cross reference these with Archinect’s salary survey, called “The Architecture Salary Poll”.

Architectural publications also often do their own yearly architects salary poll, providing a third source to cross reference. Combined, these should provide a good indication of what you should expect to be paid.

Architect salary guides 2019

Most if not all architecture bodies provide their members with an annual salary guide and/or salary survey, and this is based on its members submitting their own figures anonymously.

For example AIA provide a US architects salary guide via their AIA salary survey calculator, and for a UK architects salary, RIBA appointments provide their salary guide, which is soon to be updated going into 2019.

Architect Salary US – AIA salary survey calculator

Architect Salary UK – RIBA Appointments salary guide

Further to this Archinect  have a very good salary survey called “The Architecture Salary Poll” that takes its members’ salaries and splits them into cities, regions, countries, age brackets, job titles etc.

This appears to be a constantly working and updated survey of the industry worldwide, and based on what we currently know, appears to be a very good and transparent indicator of what architects and the positions surrounding them are paid.

Where do architects earn the most money?

Currently figures from the AEC Industry Salary Report (to be soon updated for 2019) have the US and Canada ranking high above most other countries, however it is Asia, Australia and New Zealand that provide the highest pay for architects and construction professionals.

Those who reside in other countries need to work a little harder and think outside of the “standard” architectural box to increase their salary beyond their own national averages, as we discuss here.

Your location within these countries will also heavily influence your wage, as large city based firms on average pay more due their higher level of opportunities and career progression. Though the work is often less design based and more repetitive than smaller design based practices.

The increased living costs and/or commute should also be taken into account

That’s not to say that all small firms pay badly, because they don’t, it is completely dependent on their profile and type of work they carry out.

Unfortunately however, there does seem to be a general pattern of the more design based a practice is, the less it seems to earn, but this is then more rewarding in other aspects …just not in monetary terms.

A small diverse designed based practice on the whole is full of opportunities, and provides experience in all aspects of the business and construction processes, which we believe creates better job satisfaction.

…So it can be a very careful balance

How to earn a higher architecture salary

Well aside from developing a “side hustle”, many architects choose to specialize in a particular part of a practices services and outputs. This could be architectural visualization, BIM, project management, construction detailing, hand drawing etc.

Homing in on your particular skills and setting yourself apart from the rest of your colleagues (in a professional sense), should strengthen your position within your practice and ultimately see a pay increase for the additional service you bring.

You essentially trade your time and level of output for money, and therefore the more skilled you are, the more (in theory) you should be paid, and if you are not, then move to somewhere where you will be.

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How much does an architect assistant make?

This is a very frequently asked question and aside from the type of practice and its location, an architectural assistant’s salary is dependent on the assistant’s amount and level of experience. A newly graduated student will and should earn less than an architecture assistant with a years or more experience.

Current statics show that there is approximately a 20% increase in income between an architecture assistant with 2 or less years’ experience and an assistant with 2 to 4 years’ experience.

This is due to the fact that most new architecture graduates will experience a steep learning curve when they first enter into the profession, as it takes time to get up to speed, and this is therefore reflected in the pay scale.

How much does a newly qualified architect make & what is the starting salary?

The starting salary of a newly qualified architect is generally a 15% to 20% increase on top of their current internship/architectural assistant’s wage.

The factors discussed above all contribute to variations in this, but as newly qualified architects and therefore professionals, you will be professionally liable for your work and are therefore taking on more risk. …and more risk should always equal more pay (no matter what the profession).

Some newly qualified architects may be self-employed, and therefore the initial increase in income is completely dependent of the amount of work they are able to generate, and have at the time. However the above still applies in the long run, as they will be able to offer a registered architects service (and liability), making them more attractive to potential customers.