July 21, 2024
Curious about how much money an architect can make? In this article, we'll explore salary trends, negotiation tips, and more to help you understand earning potential in the architecture industry.

How Much Money Does an Architect Make?

Architecture is a fascinating field, and many people are drawn to it because of the creativity, design, and problem-solving involved. However, one important question that often comes up for those considering a career in architecture is, “how much money does an architect make?” In this article, we’ll explore that question in depth, looking at salary statistics, factors that affect salaries, negotiation tips, current trends, and more.

Salary Statistics Comparison

Before we dive into the specifics about architect salaries, it’s worth taking a look at how architecture as a profession compares to others in terms of income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for architects in the United States is $80,750 as of May 2020. This puts architects in an income range similar to that of civil engineers, landscape architects, and urban planners.

If we look at other professions in the creative design industry, such as graphic designers or animators, we see that architects generally earn more, with higher median annual salaries. However, software developers and computer systems analysts make considerably more than architects on average.

For a more detailed look at salary statistics, let’s take a look at a graph:

Salary statistics comparison

As you can see, while architecture isn’t the highest-paying profession out there, it does offer a comfortable income for those practicing in the field.

Salary vs. Experience

When it comes to architecture, salaries can vary widely depending on an architect’s level of experience. Generally speaking, the more experience an architect has, the higher their salary will be.

According to the BLS, architects with less than a year of experience typically earn a median salary of $53,450 annually, while those with 20 or more years of experience can earn a median salary of $117,050. This is a significant increase over time, showing that experience is one of the biggest determinants of earning potential.

It’s worth noting that salary growth isn’t necessarily linear, and architects may experience jumps in salary at certain milestones in their career. For example, moving from intern to licensed architect can result in a significant salary increase, as can taking on a leadership position within a firm.

Let’s take a look at a couple of case studies:

  • Architect A has been practicing for five years and earns $70,000 annually.
  • Architect B has been practicing for 15 years and earns $115,000 annually.

This shows a clear example of how experience can impact salary. However, there are additional factors that can come into play as well.

Factors that can determine an architect’s salary growth include the size and type of the firm they work for, whether they have a specialty within the field, and their level of responsibility within the firm.

Salary Satisfaction

While salary is certainly an important consideration for those working in architecture, job satisfaction is just as crucial. Surveys and interviews with architects indicate that overall, many architects are satisfied with their salaries, but there is certainly some variation in this area.

Some architects report feeling underpaid or undervalued, while others feel that their pay is fair based on their experience and responsibilities within their firm. Factors that can impact salary satisfaction include the level of autonomy an architect has in their work, opportunities for advancement, and the overall culture of their firm or workplace.

Impact of Location on Salary

Another important factor to consider when looking at architecture salaries is the location of the job. Where an architect is located can have a significant impact on their earning potential.

Generally speaking, architects in larger cities and more densely populated regions tend to earn higher salaries than those in smaller towns or rural areas. This is largely due to the demand for architecture services being higher in urban areas.

For example, according to the BLS, architects in the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division earn the highest median annual salary in the country, at $116,680. Other areas with high salaries for architects include New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division, and urban areas of Texas.

Here’s a graph that shows median annual salaries for architects by location:

Salary statistics by location

As you can see, location can have a significant impact on an architect’s salary. However, it’s also important to consider the cost of living in a given region when evaluating salaries.

Salary Negotiation Tips

For those looking to negotiate a higher salary within the architecture field, there are several strategies that can be effective. Here are a few tips:

  • Do your research and know what the going rate is for architects with your level of experience in your region.
  • Identify your leverage points, such as having a special skill or certification or bringing unique experience to the table.
  • Practice your negotiation skills in advance, so you feel confident and prepared when it’s time to talk salary.
  • Be aware of common mistakes that can derail salary negotiations, such as being too aggressive or failing to listen to the employer’s perspective.

Salary Trends

Finally, let’s take a look at some current salary trends in the architecture industry. According to recent data from the BLS, architecture is projected to grow at a faster-than-average rate over the next several years, with an estimated 1,800 new architect jobs being added per year.

Additionally, certain specializations within the field tend to have higher salaries than others. For example, architects who specialize in healthcare design or sustainable design may be able to command higher salaries due to the specialized knowledge and skills required in these areas.

Here’s a graph that shows the trend in architecture salaries over the past decade:

Salary trend graph

Non-Traditional Jobs for Architects

Finally, for those who have studied architecture but may not be interested in pursuing traditional architecture roles, there are several alternate career paths to consider. These include urban planning, real estate development, set design for film or theater, and museum curation, among others.

It’s worth noting that salaries for non-traditional architecture jobs can vary widely, depending on the specific role and industry. However, many of these jobs do offer the opportunity for high-earning potential and fulfillment in an alternate career path.


Overall, the question of how much money an architect can make is a complex one with many variables at play. However, with experience and skill, architects can earn comfortable salaries and enjoy fulfilling careers in the field. By understanding the salary statistics, factors that impact salary, and effective negotiation strategies, individuals entering the architecture field can make informed decisions about their future.

Interested in pursuing a career in architecture or learning more about the field? Check out our resources page for more information.

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