Architecture covers a vast range of professions and wages are determined by a range of factors, such as location, experience, and qualifications. It is generally accepted that the highest paying architecture job is a senior architect, often with a specialized field of expertise. To become a senior architect typically requires years of work experience, highly specialized education and certifications in a field.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for an architecture job in the US is $80,750 per year, which equates to an hourly wage of $44.37. The lowest 10% of earners receive, on average, $49,820. The highest 10% reported annual salaries of $136,500. This salary range is much wider than that of other professional occupations, such as counselors and teachers, who typically experience a much more uniform salary range.
Highest Paying Architecture Jobs
Though the median salary for an architect is comparatively high, it is possible to command higher wages if one specialises in a certain area of practice. The highest paying architecture jobs are typically project managers, and those who specialise in urban design, landscape architecture, and interior design and construction management. Project management and related positions can turn into very lucrative jobs, with some reported salaries up to $250,000 per year.
Impact of Qualifications and Experience
When it comes to architect careers, a combination of experience and qualifications is necessary to acquire the highest paying jobs. Experience is key to becoming a senior architect, and employers typically require applicants with a minimum of 7-10 years’ experience. Without such a degree, employers are unlikely to even consider applicants for higher paying positions. In addition, it is necessary to obtain one or more qualifications such as a Master of Architecture or a LEED professional certification.
Becoming a Senior Architect
To become a senior architect, one must first have a degree in architecture, engineering or a related field, and obtain a state-issued license and/or certification. Then, it is necessary to build a portfolio and seek employment at a suitable firm to gain experience. During this time, the applicant should take the opportunity to gain additional qualifications and certifications. Finally, after a period of time, they may become eligible to apply for the highest paying architecture positions.
Impact of Location
Location plays an important role in the wages of architecture jobs. It is worth noting that the highest median wages can be found in New York, California, and Massachusetts, with each state averaging pay of over $90,000 per year. This is in contrast with, for example, Arkansas, where the median salary for architects is just $57,950 per year.
Impact of Field of Expertise
As mentioned above, the field of architecture encompasses many different facets and the type of job pursued will dramatically affect potential wages. Generally speaking, those who specialise in the design of more visually-complex structures are likely to be offered higher salaries than those who focus on the engineering aspect of architecture. Therefore, it is important to determine which particular field one is interested in and pursue the corresponding qualifications.
Impact of Recognition and Awards
In some cases, architects may pursue recognition or awards to help boost their salaries. Several competitions, such as the Pritzker Prize and ECOLA Award, are designed specifically to give international recognition and exposure to architects who demonstrate exceptional talent and creativity. If a person is successful in achieving either of these awards then their salaries can potentially increase by 50% or more.
Impact of Networking
Architecture is a business and is subject to market forces and trends. As such, it is essential for architects to establish a strong network of contacts and to stay abreast of industry news and developments. Although networking certainly cannot guarantee higher wages, it is likely to give architects a far better chance of being considered for the highest paying architecture jobs.
Impact of Research
Research is essential for those seeking the highest paying architecture jobs. This includes researching potential employers, salary ranges, trends, etc. It is also important to research different areas of architecture to determine which is the most successful and lucrative. With knowledge of these trends, an architect can then strategically pursue the skills and qualifications necessary to achieve the most lucrative jobs in architecture.
Impact of Attitude
Attitude and passion play a key role in ensuring architects achieve their highest remunerative potential. In an industry where traditional methods may have been the standard in the past, those with the right attitude and enthusiasm are the ones who are likely to command higher wages. Architects should strive to take an active role in the projects they are involved in, solve problems creatively and take on tasks that others may not want to do.
Impact of Brand Recognition
Brand recognition plays a significant role in the architecture industry. For example, it is not uncommon for large firms to offer larger salaries to attract highly skilled and experienced architects. Similarly, with the increased use of technology, architects can no longer rely on traditional forms of marketing. Instead, they must create an online presence and brand their services to ensure visibility and recognition.
Impact of Modern Technologies
Modern technologies have drastically changed the architecture industry, and this has opened up a range of new and potentially very lucrative opportunities. Architects can incorporate a range of contemporary tools and technologies in their work, such as computer aided design (CAD) software, virtual reality (VR) and 3D printing. This allows architects to create projects which can be experienced in a whole new way, and open up opportunities to be offered higher salaries.
Impact of Lifestyle
Working as an architect can be quite demanding, both physically and mentally. Therefore, it is important to choose a job that allows one to pursue a lifestyle that is most suitable for them, be it working from home, freelance work, or a combination of the two. By selecting a job which incorporates the best of both worlds, an architect can significantly increase their potential for earning higher salaries.