Is Architecture A White Collar Job

Background Information

Architecture is a profession that is highly respected and regarded. It is a profession that combines creativity and technical skills to design unique structures. Architects must have the ability to interpret the needs of the client and create working plans that are tailored to meet their requirements. While the profession of architecture initially focused on the design of buildings, it has since extended to include the design of other structures, such as roads, bridges and parks.
Despite its status as a respected profession, there is still some debate as to whether architecture is a white collar job or not. White collar jobs are typically associated with professional and managerial positions, such as accountants and lawyers, and are generally well-paying jobs. It is often thought that architecture falls into the category of blue collar jobs, which typically involve manual labor for a specific trade.

Relevant Data

In order to better understand the terms ‘white collar’ and ‘blue collar’ job, one can look to salary data. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for architects in 2019 was $79,380 per year. This figure is roughly on par with other white collar jobs, such as lawyers ($122,960) and accountants ($71,550). It is higher than the median wage for blue collar jobs, such as electricians ($56,180) and electricians ($53,190).
However, architecture is not solely determined by salary data alone; it is also dependent on other factors, such as an architect’s level of education, experience and creativity. The BLS data suggests that the most successful architects have at least a bachelor’s degree in architecture, or another related field. Furthermore, it is also important for an architect to be creative, as this allows them to create unique designs that are tailored to the needs of the client.

Expert Perspectives

Experts in the field of architecture and labor generally agree that the profession should be considered a white collar job. In an interview with Architectural Digest, architecture professor Charles Ramsey noted that—”[Architecture] is a very sophisticated thinking profession, which combines knowledge of technology, aesthetics and sociology to solve complex problems.” Similarly, Andrew Carnegie University Architecture professor Brian Warchal said that—”The profession of architecture requires a lot of technical knowledge and some creativity, which are both traits associated with white collar work.”
The view that architecture is a white collar job is further supported by the number of successful architects who have made their mark on the world. For example, modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is considered one of the most influential architects of the 20th century and his designs have had a lasting impact on the world.

Own Insights

Based on the available data, it is clear that the profession of architecture is generally considered to be a white collar job. The data suggests that the successful architects have a high level of education, experience, and creativity— all of which are traits associated with white collar jobs. Furthermore, the fact that some of the most successful architects have left an architectural legacy shows that architecture can be highly rewarding, both financially and professionally.

Social Impact

The fact that architecture is seen as a white collar profession is an important recognition, as it signals that the profession is worthy of higher salaries and greater respect. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. According to a survey conducted by the American Institute of Architects, the female-to-male pay gap for architects is 8 percent — the largest of any profession in the US. This suggests that there is still a lot of work to be done in order for architecture to be equal for everyone.
In response to this troubling statistic, many organizations and initiatives have been created to promote diversity and inclusion in the field of architecture. Organizations such as AIA Women in Architecture and Equity by Design are dedicated to advocating for and promoting equal opportunities for women and people of color in the architectural profession. By taking an active role in increasing diversity, these organizations are working towards creating a profession where everyone is respected and given equal opportunities to succeed.

Educational Opportunities

In order to become an architect, it is typically necessary to obtain a professional degree in architecture. In the US, most professional architecture programs take a minimum of five years to complete, and typically require several courses in technical drawing and design, as well as courses in history, theory, building codes and regulations. There are also some universities that offer pre-professional undergraduate degrees in architecture, which usually take four years to complete.
Furthermore, it is increasingly common for aspiring architects to obtain a master’s degree in architecture. A master’s degree can provide students with a heightened level of knowledge and experience, and can also help to open up more career opportunities in the field. Additionally, those who wish to gain advanced knowledge or specialize in a particular area of architecture can look to pursue a doctoral degree.

Career Paths

Once an aspiring architect has completed their studies, they can look to pursue a career in the field. While some may choose to pursue a career in practice — designing and working on buildings and other structures—others may look to pursue other related fields such as architectural engineering, urban planning, design and sustainable development. Furthermore, there are those who may be interested in pursuing a career in academia, such as teaching or research.
In addition to traditional role, the landscape of the professional is changing. It is increasingly common for architects to be employed in non-traditional roles, such as project management, business development and sustainability consulting. It is evident that there are numerous career paths available for those who wish to pursue a career in the field of architecture, and the possibilities are only growing.


In order to remain competitive, architects must keep up with the ever-changing trends and technologies. Advances in technology have allowed architects to create more efficient and sustainable designs, and many architects are now looking to use automation and artificial intelligence as tools to further streamline their work.
Additionally, some architects are now starting to embrace elements of other fields, such as product design and engineering, to create unique and innovative designs. Start-up companies, such as Zaha Hadid Architects, are leading the way in this regard and are constantly experimenting with new materials and technologies.

Global Trends

The architectural industry is not only changing within the United States; it is also changing on a global scale. In recent years, there has been an increased demand for architects in developing countries, such as India, China, and Africa. As these countries work to develop their infrastructure and build their cities, there is an ever-increasing need for the expertise of an architect.
Furthermore, the demand for green and sustainable architecture is on the rise in many parts of the world. Architects are now being tasked with finding innovative ways to reduce energy consumption, reduce waste, and create environmentally friendly designs. Additionally, many countries are now mandating green building standards and codes, which further emphasize the importance of sustainable design.

Real Estate Development

The profession of architecture is also evolving due to the increasing demand for new housing and commercial developments. As urban centers become more densely populated, there is an ever-growing need for new housing and commercial spaces. As such, architects are being tasked with creating modern and efficient designs that are tailored to the needs of the client.
Furthermore, architects are playing an increasingly important role in the renovation and repurposing of existing buildings. While some architects may look to create entirely new designs, others may look to transform existing structures into something new and unexpected. By carefully considering the history and culture of an area, architects can create immersive and meaningful designs that will stand the test of time.


Technology is another key factor that has been changing the profession of architecture in recent years. The rise of digital technologies, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and robotic fabrication, have provided architects with new tools that are helping to reduce costs, improve collaboration, and streamline the design process.
Advances in design software have also allowed architects to create highly detailed models and visualizations, providing them with a better understanding of the design before it is constructed. Additionally, the increasing popularity of 3D printing is allowing architects to create prototypes quickly and inexpensively, without the need for traditional large-scale manufacturing.

Future Outlook

The landscape of the architectural field is constantly changing, and it can be difficult to predict where it may go in the future. However, many experts agree that the most successful architects will be those who embrace new technologies, and those who are able to think outside the box. The field is ripe with opportunities, and the future outlook is more promising than ever.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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