Earnings for architects

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Earnings for architects in private practice range widely, depending on where and how they work. For example an architect would construct a building costing $6 million and earn $300 000 depending the size and location of the practice. Architectural firm earnings have traditionally been dependent on the local economic conditions but, with rapid globalization, this is becoming less of a factor for larger international firms. Architects working directly on the payroll of firms, governments and corporations usually earn a regular annual salary.

Architects sometimes work in other related fields, such as real estate (property) developers, or develop specializations where they can earn a significantly higher income than the industry median. Architects in public practice, such as with government agencies, usually earn an income substantially near industry medians.


Salaries vary with experience and location. A senior architect in private practice, in a major Canadian city, can earn over $125,000 per annum (more with a larger firm) with the top 10% earning over $200,000. Recently graduated (intern architects) typically earn between $40,000 to $60,000 per annum - this may increase up to $75,000 with professional registration. Partners or principals in large firms can make $450k and up.[1] Also, Managers of larger companies can earn up to 600k per annum.

United States[edit]

The median pay for an architect is $76,100 per year or $36.59/hr [2]

Senior architects and partners typically have earnings that exceed $100,000 annually. Occasionally, an officer or equity partner may earn a base salary of $250,000, with a bonus of $100,000 or more in a good year. Due to the major stake in ownership that equity partners may have, they can earn incomes approaching, and very occasionally surpassing, $1,000,000.[3]

Full-time Intern architects typically earn between $37,449 and $61,150[4] depending on experience, location, and unique skills. In 2015, Recent Graduates with a B.Arch degree had an average starting salary of $43,390. [5] In 2015, Recent Graduates with an M.Arch had an average starting salary of $47,449.[6] Architects that have completed the internship period and are licensed can expect an average salary between $57,368 and $75,000.[7]

Architectural salaries are based on experience and ability of the employee. The FMI corporation in 2012 [8] broke the architecture employee classification into six categories:

Architect 1 - $44,100 (low) - $57,400 (median) - $70,800 (high)

Entry level position. Under close supervision, using company prescribed methods and standards. Position requires basic architectural knowledge and application of basic principle and concepts.

Architect 2 - $51,400 (low) - $67,800 (median) - $84,200 (high)

Under supervision but tasked with evaluation, selecting, and applying prescribed techniques. Position generally has defined assignments. The position requires specialization, in order to complete tasks that are more complex.

Architect 3 - $60,600 (low) - $80,800 (median) - $101,000 (high)

Under general supervision. Tasked with previous requirements and guiding/supervising the technical aspects for drafters/designers and less-experienced architects.

Architect 4 - $70,400 (low) - $93,500 (median) - $116,500 (high)

Limited supervision. The position is required to independently apply architectural techniques to the entirety of the project. May supervise the technical aspects of the project.

Architect 5 - $85,000 (low) - $111,200 (median) - $137,300 (high)

Very limited supervision. Position typically has the title of Project Manager. Supervises architects, drafters, and designers. Reviewing and approving conceptual design and/or construction documents. Develops new techniques to implement within the firm.

Architect 6 - $96,630 (low) - $128,100 (median) - $159,800 (high)

Supervision from general directives. Supervises a major group of architects, designers, and drafters. Has ability to review and approve all phases of a project.  Develops and implements techniques for firm.

Principle - Compensation based on business performance

Equity owner of the company. Final approval of all company decisions. Stamps drawings.

The compensation of the employee is directly related with the billable rate of the employee to the client. The State of Washington issues a "Guidelines for Determining Architect/Engineer Fees for Public Works Building Projects" that went into effect July, 1 2015.[9] Within the guideline the state says that a negotiated rate should put the employee salary multiplier in the range of 2 to 3.2 times the employee direct salary. In other works if an employee where to make $20/hr ($41,600 annually) then the billable rate of that employee would be $40/hr to $64/hr. The report also outlines that a principle (meaning an equity owner of the company) that their negotiated rate is to not exceed 200/hr.[10]

United Kingdom[edit]

The average salary (2008–09) in the United Kingdom is £45,000, with a typical range for principals between £51,000 and £90,000.[11] The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) provides a guide to the salaries typical of the various stages of qualification:[12] Beginning level candidates (part one) can expect between £12,000 and £20,000. Recent graduates (part two) earn between £15,000 and £27,000. Newly registered architects (part three) earn £29,000–£34,000; part three, three to five years post-registration £34,000–42,000 (salary data collected March 2008). The range of typical salaries at senior levels (after 10–15 years in role) is £36,000–80,000, depending on the seniority of the position.


  1. ^ 2009 survey by the Ontario Association of Architects
  2. ^ Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Handbook: Architect http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/architects.htm
  3. ^ Architect Magazine
  4. ^ Design Intelligence "Compensation, Bonus & Benefits Research" (March/April 2015)
  5. ^ Design Intelligence "Compensation, Bonus & Benefits Research" (March/April 2015)
  6. ^ Design Intelligence "Compensation, Bonus & Benefits Research" (March/April 2015)
  7. ^ Design Intelligence "Compensation, Bonus & Benefits Research" (March/April 2015)
  8. ^ FMI Corporation 2012 Compensation Survey
  9. ^ http://www.ofm.wa.gov/budget/instructions/capital.asp
  10. ^ Page 10- http://www.ofm.wa.gov/budget/instructions/capinst/aeguidelines.pdf
  11. ^ http://www.feesbureau.co.uk/i/reports/AESummary.pdf
  12. ^ "Architect: Salary and conditions". Prospects.ac.uk. Retrieved 2011-03-12. 

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