How To Increase Your Architects Salary

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As the role of the architect is ever changing, so are the skills required to be one, but the diverse skill sets learnt in architecture school and when in practice don't just have to be focused on being a singular architect.

The need for an architect to home in on a particular area has never been more important, no longer can an architect know “a little about everything” and barley “everything about something”, this has changed. The requirement to become a specialist in key roles is now one of the only ways to become successful within practice and climb that ladder.

This has lead to a diversification in the architects thinking, and an expansion of their duties, skill sets, and interests. These interests have gone on to develop outside the initial roles taught in universities and colleges and have developed connecting alternative paths.  

So within the ever changing modern architects role and for the quest to raise the bar of the everyday architect, many have looked further a field at secondary and primary income streams. Here we take a look at some of the routes taken and hope it offers inspiration and an insight into what is possible.

Develop

For most, the chance to be in complete control and develop our own property with no employer or client is the dream scenario. However unless your very lucky as a student and own your own property or have the funds to do so, developing is mainly taken on by the working professionals, and even then its a hard task financially. But if you can get over that initial hurdle, as Architects, we have a huge amount to offer, with the added bonus of no fees!

Many developers seek out architects to add wealth to their projects by bringing knowledge and design skills to the scheme, as Architects, we are able to spot potential areas to develop, generate a working scheme and know how the planning system works.

...and so why dont we use our own skills, for own benefit, and become a developer?

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Monetise Products

The processes an architectural project goes through from the initial concept development through to its final completion are often priced together under one singular, fee that is then subdivided into the relevant work stages. But if you continue to break the work output down further into the individual quantities that form each stage, you start to generate a series of individual products and services that can then be monetised.

This gives you the ability to provide a bespoke service and allows clients to approach you for specific items and products, such as a consultation or a singular document. Some of these items are also likely to be repeated and transferable between projects, and so can be recycled to save time and generate additional income.

This will also allow you to (if you wish) to be very specific in the work you do and remove the areas that you least enjoy …specialise!

Visualisation

A lot of architects develop a keen interest in the visualisation and representation of architecture, and with it now being a fundamental tool in helping to communicate and sell design intent in presentations, architects have become efficient in the varied types of software used to develop such imagery. 

The striking difference between architectural visualisation and architecture, is that it is a lot quicker to build up a portfolio and doesn’t have the pressures and responsibility that come with being an architect.

…and just like architectural design, the style of imagery can be completely unique to the artist and so why not take this skill and offer an alternative service to other architects and architectural students.

Productising Your Services

Following on from breaking down your services into products, you can also take a step back and offer work stages as singular products, for example, you could develop a series of singular plan sets for a dwelling that are capable of being repeated within varied locations. Each work stage would then have its own plan set and set of standard documents accompanying it.

This removes the bespoke element of the design and build process, but enables clients who cannot afford the full service to still have a professionally designed product. For example, a client may just want a concept development package or just a construction set of drawings. 

A very good example of a practice already doing this is 30 x 40 workshop.

CAD Drafting

Offering a CAD drafting service can be an excellent way to earn some extra money in your spare time. For most of us, a large part of our day in consumed by this anyway (its easy!) and so it comes as second nature, as long as you have the will power to continue it into your evenings and at weekends, it can be a relatively stress free way to subsidies your income.

There are a lot of design and build firms and contractors out there that will be submitting their own planning applications, and contractors in particular are unlikely to have the time or even want to produce the planning drawings themselves. So do some research into your local companies and offer your services.

Be mindful however that if you are a registered architect, you will need your own insurance.

Sell Products Online

Many architects have interests that expand past the built environment and filter into other related disciplines such as furniture, product, interior and landscape design for example, and this can lead to their own experimentation and developments in these fields.

These are often started as a hobby, but once competent enough, it can grow into a viable side business that can even go onto service your architectural occupation. An architectural practice that can offer its own furniture line or one off products, can be a very attractive offer to certain clients.

Alternatively, it could be something completely separate from architecture and be its own separate entity.

Photography

A lot of architects are naturally interested in composition, lighting, and atmosphere, and this often leads to a large amount of them taking up photography as a hobby. 

But to turn this into an income isn’t easy, as the industry is highly competitive and over saturated. The advantage architects have however is that not every photographer has had the same training and development in light and composition as they have.

A good and obvious area to explore is therefore architectural photography. You may need to start off by offering a free or reduced fee service to build up a portfolio, but if you’re able to get established this can be an excellent side project and income.

Tutoring

Lastly tutoring, universities and colleges are always looking for studio and guest tutors to work with their students to bring a level of reality and alternative approach to the education process.

If you can get away from your practice for a day or two a week, it can a very rewarding secondary occupation and a break away from normal practice life. It also seems popular with architects who are just starting their own practice, as it can offer a part time, reliable, and constant income while they build up their own work load.

The freedom and creativity architecture schools have can also be refreshing and often inspire even the most hardened architect.