5 Factors Affecting Your Architect Salary

Sara Mandeed
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Architect Salary

Do you have what it takes to land a job as an architect? Can you have your salary sky rocketing to the sky or be just average? The answers to both questions always depend on several factors, some are within your control and some are not.

But you can always use these following factors to your advantage to reach that dream salary.

Your salary as an architect will always depend on your skill level, experience, reputation and location. With that said there are a few other factors that you should be aware of and ones that you can influence.

The infographic below shows you much of these factors that affect your salary as an architect.

Here are the 5 factors affecting your architect salary:

Your salary will vary widely depending on your employer. If you’re a fresh architect graduate working for design studio or a small architecture firm, you will be paid considerably lower than someone working for a big company, such as an engineering firm, a construction company, a Fortune 500 Company.

Geographic Location

Your location—where you live and work—can impact your salary substantially.

However, according to Peter Post, a renowned architecture critic and journalist, the impact of geographic location will not be as great as you might think.

Once you design and work on a few projects in a new area, you will find that your compensation will increase.

It’s a nice benefit to experience, but don’t expect it all the time.

Size of the Firm

If you work for a very small firm, you will probably be earning less than the people working for a bigger firm.

You can work for a small architecture firm on the condition that it’s a startup firm and has innovative designs. In the long run, you will be better off because you will gain valuable experience working on a variety of projects.

Firm Size and Specialization

If you are planning to move to a new firm, be sure to find out the number of architects on staff. Some firms are hundreds of folk strong, while others are a handful. You can find out the average number of architects that work there by looking at job sites. The more employees, the more you are likely to be interchangeable. Good firms consider architects as team players, which unfortunately means that you may not get the same attention that you get from smaller firms. Big firms also have more projects and have to balance time between projects.

Another factor affecting your salary is the industry and firm specialization. Architectural firms can be general in their focus or niche in their approach. For example, you may have a firm that focuses on business offices, single family homes, strip malls, and high rises, or you may have a firm that focuses just on high rises. You can find the specialization of the firm by looking at their website or talking to someone who knows the firm.

If you are planning to change firms, know two things: 1. How compatible are you with the existing culture of the firm, and 2. How does the compensation scale at this firm compare to others. Here is a link that may help you compare Architectural Compensation Rate.


One of the first factors affecting your salary is your region of practice. If your job is in NYC or LA then I’m sure you’re looking to make much more than your counterparts in Kansas City or Cleveland. And that’s as it should be.

It is possible to find architects willing to take less money to work in smaller cities (or rural areas) where their talent may be in much higher demand. This may be something you wish to consider if working in a large city is too hectic for you.

Skills and Qualifications

You need a degree in architecture to become an architect. Normally, you need a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in architecture from a top university.

A bachelor’s degree in architecture should take about five years of education, one year is a preparatory year and four years is the study of architecture.

The first step to becoming an architect is to get your Bachelor of Architecture degree.

After getting the Bachelor of Architecture degree, you need to work in the working world for a few years to gain work experience. You also need to finish the process of getting your Master of Architecture degree.

If you would like to work in the field of architecture, then you need to complete your bachelor’s degree in architecture. After that, you need to secure a position in an architectural firm to gain more experience.

If you would like to start your own architectural practice, you will need a master’s degree in architecture from a university of great renownand you will need to have taken out a license.


This is the first software that you should learn to use if you are aspiring to be an architect.

However, there are other sophisticated computer-aided design (CAD) programs that high-level architects will use.

Computer-Aided Design programs are used to design a building or structure.

This includes creating the plans and drawing the designs.


This is the first shape you should use because it’s easy to flip and it’s an easy shape to use as a reference point to start the battle star.

Why use Filler Shapes first?

Because, when you use Filler shapes first it allows you to focus more on the Battle Star outline itself rather than trying to line up a spinning triple-blank star.

Face the Filler Shapes towards you.

Try to get the outline right before you start to turn the star shape.

Now position yourself as if you are about to start the star.

Stand back and get an overall perspective of what you’re about to do.

This will usually point you towards the best direction to start the battle star.

There are two reasons you should start with Filler Shapes before you turn the star:

Market Conditions

In the architectural world, young designers are always eager to earn as much as they can even if they’re not yet experts in the field. Many fresh graduates and experienced designers join firms and travel a lot in order to experience what the market has to offer.

But to secure a satisfactory salary as an architect, prospective employees should first be acquainted with market rates. It doesn’t matter if you want to start your career as an architectural professional or you are transitioning from one position to another. Knowing the factors that put a premium on salary is helpful in your quest of securing higher earnings and better job opportunities.

The highest paid architects in the world usually come from private firms engaged in high-cost projects. This refers to areas such as designing for high-end neighborhoods, companies, or office buildings. But cities that need a lot of large scale buildings also pay a little more to their usual employees.

In these areas, domestic firms are more affected by their local economy while the international firms are more exposed to external forces. For instance, in the United States, a firm that designs high-end buildings based in the state of New York will be more affected by the market fluctuations in the New York region. International firms, on the other hand, are affected by the movements of the United States dollar as well as other global currencies.

Your Role

Different levels of experience will impact your salary as well as your age and the network you’ve built.

The first consideration for an architect salary will therefore be your job title. Depending on your experience, that title can be “junior,” “intern,” “assistant,” “staff,” “designer,” “lead,” “principal,” “partner,” etc.

This may all sound like cryptic jargon, but these titles describe different jobs and will affect your salary. A junior will make less than a principal. An intern with a master’s will make less than an entry-level staff member with no degree.