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How much do YOU think we should make?

Jun 22 '14 21 Last Comment
A.I.
Jun 22, 14 5:03 am

Reading Archinect posts has become depressing recently with a good majority of posts either being directly about 'how bad the pay is' or inevitably devolving in to that discussion in one way or another.

So what's the answer?  How much should Architects (including fresh Grads) be making?  Let's pretend the reality of the Supply-Demand graph doesn't exist and just throw some numbers out there. 

Pretend you're 17 years old again, ignorant of reality, and think that "all jobs were created equal."  What should the salary schedules be like, today in 2014?

 

Insert your numbers at the below brackets with the following generic assumptions to make it easier:

4 year B.S.Arch + 2 year M.Arch at a well known university, 24 years old, few summer internships, good portfolio, employed at a well known and established firm (not starchitect) within a fairly large American city, actively pursuing license.  Let's also assume that this theoretical employee progresses at his job and is well liked by management. 

I've simplified this into years served rather than position; the assumption is that the theoretical employee is 'moving up the ladder' at a talented pace with standard Architectural Positions.  Also please ignore inflation for simplicity sake.

Year 1:

Year 2:

Year 3:

----------- License Attained: Promotion

Year 4:

Year 5:

----------- Major Promotion

Year 6:

-----------30 Years Old

Year 7:

Year 8:

----------- Major Promotion

Year 9:

Year 10:

Year 11:

----------- Major Promotion

Year 12:

Year 13:

Year 14:

Year 15:

Year 16:

---------40 Years old

 

Again, the point of over-simplifying the progression is to simply view the profession's worth in the simplest of terms from the viewpoint of a successful highly educated exceptional American worker.  It's completely impossible for every single prospective Architect to get to the top of the pyramid (that's why it's shaped like a pyramid).

Here's my fairy-tale version of the same chart based on my ignorant and inexperienced opinion:

Year 1: $50,000

Year 2: $53,000

Year 3: $56,000

----------- License Attained: Promotion

Year 4: $65,000

Year 5: $68,000

----------- Major Promotion

Year 6: $72,000

-----------30 Years Old

Year 7: $75,000

Year 8: $78,000

----------- Major Promotion

Year 9: $85,000

Year 10: $88,000

Year 11: $95,000

----------- Major Promotion

Year 12: $118,000

Year 13: $120,000

Year 14: $122,000

Year 15: $128,000

Year 16: $130,000

---------40 Years old

 

Please post your version of the pay-scale.  Let's see what everyone actually thinks of the profession's value in real numbers.

 

Steven WardSteven Ward
Jun 22, 14 8:10 am

Licensure after Year 3 is a rarity these days, so that assumption screws things up some. 

Geography matters, too. Here in KY 10yr staff make as much as your 3-yr target. 

At 46 (and partner) I don't expect to be making 130k any time soon...  *Should* I expect it, since we're wishing here? I don't know.

Are you matching us with other professions as comparison? On what are you basing your targets?

accesskb
Jun 22, 14 8:47 am

gosh.. this is depressing.  Here I'm trying to pull in 100K minimum within one year on a side business not related to architecture ;)

A.I.
Jun 22, 14 8:58 am

I'm just trying to gauge the community's lifetime expectations in this profession since there seems to be a lot of complaining about "low pay."  If the pay is "low", then what the hell should the pay be?

chigurh
Jun 22, 14 10:07 am

What the hell is a "Major Promotion"? In my opinion, you become somebody that does the work, or you become somebody that manages the work.  I think the switch from one to the other could be considered a "major promotion", but project management is boring a fuck.  I don't really know what all the other major promotions would be for specifically?  Funny thing is, I have said this before, a lot of firms frown upon hiring a licensed architects, because they will have to pay them more for doing the same work somebody that has 5 or 10 years experience and no license.

I think your projections are flawed, Are you taking into account switching employers at any point?  What about the next recession?  Would you work at a better firm for less money? In a perfect world, pay would increase exponentially as you have described....but the reality is that there are awesome firms, with principals that make less than projected year 16.   Architecture pay really follows more of a logarithmic graph, maybe some high increases early on, but tapering off later, unless you make a move to start your own firm or something that would make it jump up again.  

Also, look at when people and firms become really successful.  Architecture is an old mans game, most not even becoming successful until they are in their 50's or 60's and beyond.  Funny you decided to stop the projections at year 40.  

All in all it seems pretty naive...but if this kind of wishful thinking keeps you on track, good for you.  I think the majority of architects on this forum with 10+ years experience, that have worked through this current recession and before will have a totally different outlook. 

Beepbeep
Jun 22, 14 10:51 am

The above scale is what I would say we are worth and should get paid, but we do not. Engineers with a 4 year B.S. pretty much follow that pay scale I believe. We should make similar.

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Jun 22, 14 11:29 am

Civil serpents and teachers have pay scales. You're in the wrong profession. 

Gregory WalkerGregory Walker
Jun 22, 14 1:09 pm

so AI - if that's a goal for you, then (in all sincerity) go ahead and try to make it happen. as steven notes, you'll encounter several factors that will shape how you get there, but generally (and very broadly), the best CHANCE of hitting those goals are to:

1 - work for a firm larger than 250 ppl. the pay disparities between 250+ and everyone else are pretty significant, no matter where you are (location wise) or what sort of projects you're doing. that pay scale isn't difficult to achieve in a firm that size, IF you're someone rapidly growing into a leadership position. 

(side note: median pay for CEO's of all companies in the US less than 250 ppl: 151K. median pay for greater than 250 ppl: 251K. that's all companies. median compensation for all full time private sector employees: 49K. )

2 - work in healthcare. sad, brutal reality is healthcare specialists earn bigger fees and are generally paying higher salaries. a distortion of the american marketplace, but...

3 - become an equity partner in a firm greater than 50ppl. again, i'm working off the aia and d.i. salary scales. bigger is definitely better in terms of averages in compensation. 

4 - work in a large city. regardless of what the hipster firms are paying in ny, la, or boston, you'll generally make more there than in any other cities, especially at the larger corporate firms. 

 

here's the brutal secret: most people won't sniff the levels you've listed, primarily because they won't grow into that 'critical and essential' role within their firms. or, they'll start a firm that just never becomes financially profitable. 

 

good luck with it...

sameolddoctor
Jun 23, 14 1:00 am

Take into account the recessions. Sad truth of mine - was making barely over six figures in a SMALL office doing awesome work at the ripe old age of 32. Come 2008, then 2009, everything went kaput!

Now in large corporate, making about 20k less than the good old days.

This profession knows how to hit the reset button.

Whatever you do, be sure to save up or invest in something that is not linked to the market.

A.I.
Jun 23, 14 1:26 am

Guys... what I listed was not intended to reflect reality nor advocate for rigid pay scales.  I just wanted to see what the community believes our profession is or should be worth with a theoretical vertically mobile employee.  If you would like to post a more realistic 16 year progression, then by all means please do.

I've re-quoted myself below just to emphasize the idealistic nature of this post:

"So what's the answer?  How much should Architects (including fresh Grads) be making?  Let's pretend the reality of the Supply-Demand graph doesn't exist and just throw some numbers out there." 

"Pretend you're 17 years old again, ignorant of reality, and think that "all jobs were created equal."  What should the salary schedules be like, today in 2014?"

"Here's my fairy-tale version of the same chart based on my ignorant and inexperienced opinion:"

Y'all got defensive way too quickly.

file
Jun 23, 14 2:03 am

There is nothing "theoretical" about compensation. Compensation is a function of supply and demand - you can't wish away those factors. "Supposition" or "desire" or "belief" has nothing to do with it, beyond a silly exercise in mental masterbation.

sameolddoctor
Jun 23, 14 2:19 am

A.I., on the other hand, this profession has a lot of extremes in pay. A lot get stuck all their lives in low-pay, intense stressful situations, while a few (yes a few) figure out what their true value is and go get it. The truth is that a "traditional" path is never going to make you enough money in the long run.

A.I.
Jun 23, 14 4:32 am

If I were to ask the same question of an 18 year old in an Aerospace Engineering program what he would expect to make by the time he's 40 if he climbed the corporate ladder at Boeing, I'm pretty sure he'd have a ballpark number.  But for some reason, asking the same question of a prospective Architecture student is: insulting, taboo, wishful thinking, and "mental masturbation."

So much negativity.

curtkram
Jun 23, 14 7:30 am

But you're not asking for a ballpark of what that 18 year OK of will make, you're just asking what they would want to make?

I'd like to make One.  Million.  Dollars. Per year, without having to go to work.

file
Jun 23, 14 8:49 am

^ precisely

Lee RobertLee Robert
Jun 23, 14 9:35 am

If I were speaking to my 17 year old self, I'd tell him not to look at salary as a gauge for how happy or successful you'll be at a certain age.

There is no "we" when it comes to salary, just "you" and how well you know your own needs and how eager you are to change your own financial situation. 

Linear income projections are for the birds. 

LITS4FormZ
Jun 23, 14 10:48 am

Architecture is a business and like any profession you are compensated based on the value you create. You are also compensated based on how many other people can do your job. If you are a "designer" who drives revit all day then you are paid a salary according to your ability to create drawings. Unfortunately, there are thousands of other people who can do the same thing and after some time they can probably hire someone else at a lower rate.

Increases in compensation are not based on work completed but on future contributions. Avoiding stagnation in key to advancement. 

The salary scale above is that of a future principal in a large office...Intern, licensed architect, project architect, project manager, principal. Salary will vary based on the type of work, industrial, health care and infrastructure tend to pay the most. If that's the track you want to take your milestones are realistic. 

If you're doing work that your professors would look down on, you're probably making a decent living.

stone
Jun 23, 14 2:35 pm

"If you're doing work that your professors would look down on, you're probably making a decent living." -- this actually made me chuckle. Too bad it's such a sad (but accurate) commentary on the current state of the education system for Architects.

nycdesigns
Jun 23, 14 6:21 pm

Another layer to this fairy tail scenario requires that the higher up you get on that pay scale, the more of a rain maker you are. Assuming you have been promoted from producing document sets to managing projects, teams or client groups.

I have friends licensed who are still producing drawing sets. The office balance and the regional market supply and demand will affect what you might be looking to get. That's an echo to what has already been said by others.

You will hear more questions about what large clients / client groups you are going to be bringing to the office. As a principal, remember now that you will need to put your money where your mouth (and mind hopefully) are. Completing the move from producing drawings, managing drawings, finding new clients and maintaining clients expectations with increased revenues.

Kinda makes you wonder how much schools are splicing in Business and / or Business Admin / Entrepreneurship into the curriculum.....and how that would influence the profession is managed and, by extension,  received by the general public.  (that alone could spark another fairy tale scenario post)

Carrera
Jul 23, 14 5:05 pm

(Posted this elewhere)

Compensation? Get a load of this…..How much do you think Guillermo gets paid on his gig with Jimmy Kimmel Live? Are you ready? $10,000.00 a week! Got be something wrong with a society that condones that.

Snoopy316
Jul 24, 14 10:22 pm

Year 1: $50,000

Year 2: $53,000

Year 3: $56,000

----------- License Attained: Promotion

Year 4: $65,000

Year 5: $68,000

----------- Major Promotion

Year 6: $72,000

-----------30 Years Old

Year 7: $75,000

Year 8: $78,000

----------- Major Promotion

Year 9: $85,000

Year 10: $88,000

Year 11: $95,000

----------- Major Promotion

Year 12: $118,000

Year 13: $120,000

Year 14: $122,000

Year 15: $128,000

Year 16: $130,000

---------40 Years old

 

I think you're pretty close up to the 95K mark. Unless you become an associate or higher position of a company, don't expect to be on a higher salary. Also I don't think being licensed makes a huge difference in pay too. People can be in 8 years experience earning the same amount without being licensed. All depends on what you do.

Rusty!
Jul 25, 14 12:15 pm

What Snoopy said. First 11 years are not that off from my experience. But you are not going to be making $130k by 40. Guaranteed. 

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