The architecture industry is an ever-evolving one, with salaries varying depending on the role and sector. So, which architecture has the highest salary? We explore this question in-depth in this article, taking into account various factors such as experience, qualifications and industry focus. We also provide the opinions of experts in the field and ideas on how to improve salary potential.
Architecture is a diverse field with many niche disciplines such as landscape, interiors, urban design and historic preservation. Although the primary focus is designing buildings and structures, there are other aspects such as project management, research and planning that are also involved. A range of qualifications are required to become an architect, such as an accredited degree or master’s in architecture, alongside passing an architectural examination.
Experience and Qualifications
Experience, qualifications and industry focus are the three main determinants of salary for architects as outlined by architectural recruitment agency Hays. Those with higher qualifications, more experience and a specialist focus receive the most attractive salaries. Depending on the sector, some regions offer higher salaries than others. If a sector offers a larger pay range, for example for interior design, then this could be a good indication of the highest-paid area of expertise.
An architect’s sector of focus can determine their salary prospects. Architecture firm Hennion Levy & Associates, who are involved in the healthcare and hospitality sectors, believe “the highest paying sector for architecture is the commercial sector.” This is backed up by research from the Institute of Employment Studies (IES), which found that commercial architects commanded the highest salaries. Predominantly linked to the need to deliver outside the traditional and develop innovative design solutions.
Skills and Qualifications
Having the right skills and qualifications is important in setting up the potential for a higher salary. The IES report also outlined the importance of possessing technical knowledge, remain current with today’s technology and understanding the commercial impact of design decisions. Architect Jody King believes that “it is essential to demonstrate marketable skills and ability to attract better paying clients and positions”, as these skills are highly sought after and can give architects the edge in salary negotiations.
There are also other factors that can influence the architect’s salary, for example the size, type and industry of the employer, how the project is managed, how successful the project is, the location and the sector of industry it is for. Larger commercial projects are often attractive opportunities for architects, which has seen an increase in demand in recent years. Working with an experienced international practice, such as Zaha Hadid, also bears additional financial opportunities.
Options for Improvement
For architects looking to increase their salary potential, there are multiple strategies they can employ. Gaining experience and specialising in a sector is a key factor, as this has the potential to lead to better opportunities and higher salaries. Negotiating salaries and taking additional qualifications can also play a large role in improving salaries. Consulting with other architects and employers can be a great way to gain an understanding of the job market and potential areas of advancement.
The advanced strategies to increase pay in architecture involve electronic networks, up-skilling and a broader understanding of the economy. Creating networks and connections can bring architects into contact with larger projects, better clients and higher pay packages. Furthering knowledge and skills can also bring prospects for more senior-level roles and a higher salary. Going further into economic theory gives better insights on how to approach the most lucrative projects.
Given the popularity of social media, using various platforms to market skills and portfolios can be extremely beneficial. Developing a unique brand to make the name of a business recognisable to clients can result in a higher demand for services and often higher pay. Architects can also collaborate with other professionals and brand themselves together, in order to target a broader range of clients and improve profit margins.
Given the increased popularity of remote working and digital collaboration, apps and digital tools are becoming essential tools for architects to use. Remote working has the potential to open up access to more international markets and a larger client base, often offering higher paying roles due to currency exchange rate advantages. Geographical constraints can also be removed with this style of working, meaning architects can access a wider range of projects and better salaries.
In today’s increasingly competitive architectural scene, outsourcing can provide a way to increase salary potential while still maintaining quality of work. It involves managing projects and delegating tasks to outside contractors and can streamline processes, resulting in better timelines and financial efficiency. For example, outsourcing drafting services has the potential to save money by reducing long-term costs and opening up access to a larger pool of talent.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, the type of architecture and sector of industry has the biggest impact on salary potential. Architects that specialise in commercial sectors, up-skill their qualifications, create networks and gain real-world experience are likely to be the highest earner in the field. Those that are willing to explore remote working and outsourcing options can also access better rates of pay, creating a more profitable and secure career.