aia compensation survey 2011 - the results are in...

and there's probably nothing surprising to most people. well, ok, some parts are actually surprising (like the fact that there was an actual overall increase in salaries for the three years 2008-2011, from 73,800 to 75,000 - the average for all employees, including all overtime, incentives, bonuses and benefits). 

at firms who have >10 employees, salaries are 20% less than the average. 100+ firms are 7.5% above average. 

for the #'s you all want to know: average starting salary (overall): 34,9k/yr at firms >10 to 43,1k at firms 100+. for all firms, the average is 39,5.

for architect 1/newly registered: 55,5 on low end; 62,7 on the high end. 59,8 is the average.

for president/ceo - 121,9 on the low end; 300 on the high end; 164,8 is the average.


overall, the aia's take is that, while layoffs are severe (from a high of 240,000 at the end of 2007 to a shade under 156,000 at the end of 2010), for those left in, the worst is likely over (of course this was all written before the collapse of civil discourse in washington) and salaries are tending to stay level (compared to a 5.5% increase in the overall market in the us) if not slightly increasing.

getting regional/city specific will be pretty tough, so others may chime in on that - have to go back and earn that top level salary...

Jul 31, 11 1:48 pm

i just came back from grocery store to satisfy my once a year farmer john breakfast urge.

try 4.49 breakfast sausage compared to last year's 1.99 (this is what people eat, not 10 dollars a pound handmade brand in wholefoods. i remember it being under a dollar just few years ago) of course lines are a little longer at the cashier with increasing number of coupon counting customers. this price increase of food is at crisis level. 

our economy simply became unsustainable at the moment. people who have jobs are very nervous of the fact that they may lose them any day. aia also published a survey saying the non residential building construction is not so good at least until next few years. most people/firms already depleted their savings too.  there are exceptions but i am not talking about them. 

on top all gregory's information that is...

btw, breakfast was good. see you next year fj..

Jul 31, 11 2:17 pm

Thanks for posting, Gregory.

Jul 31, 11 2:19 pm

Where is this published, Architect mag, Record?  I think I didn't renew any of my subscriptions - too expensive ;-)

Jul 31, 11 2:44 pm

you can indeed buy it -we've been a participant in it the last 2 rounds, so we get a free copy. 


Jul 31, 11 3:55 pm

do you mean <10 employees instead of >10 employees? technically 100+ is >10 as well...


"at firms who have >10 employees, salaries are 20% less than the average. 100+ firms are 7.5% above average.

for the #'s you all want to know: average starting salary (overall): 34,9k/yr at firms >10 to 43,1k at firms 100+. for all firms, the average is 39,5."

Sep 22, 11 5:08 pm

could someone with the report share the regional data, ie. avg starting salaries for new england, etc..


Sep 22, 11 10:11 pm
pale shelter

what does this mean for the young, newly registered  - those with 3-5 years of experience out of school (mid to upper 20 year olds) - i'm guessing we won't see a real nice bump up to nearly 60k huh?... hehe. Or is this when people jump ship and go corporate to grab those numbers?

Sep 22, 11 10:34 pm
pale shelter

Also, I'd really like to see the cross section of those firms polled. I remember last year's Architect Magazine salary poll that read something like: +- $84k for avg salary. The numbers looked quite good - however you looked at the "read the fine print " kind of diagrams that showed the average age were 40 year olds and MOST ppl polled were firm owners. So a bit of a tall tale there -

Sep 22, 11 10:39 pm

I'm wondering if somebody willing to shell out $249 for this might be willing to give us the average by experience/title band, assuming they organize info like that...

something like Intern, Arch I, II, III, Associate, Sr Associate, Assoc Principal (if different from Sr Assoc), Principal, or equivalent.  Gregory gave some figures for Mng Principal/CEO, but it'll be nice to see the bands in between. :)

also, are there distinctions between firm type...

unfortunately, not all of us are in our 20s anymore...

Sep 23, 11 8:46 am

lethal - i did, in fact, just throw out the high and low categories. didn't have time to write about much else. there is, in fact, a lot of data in there - parsing through what's valuable or not takes time which i don't have to spare right now.


urbanist- in between bands are really all over - you have intern III making more than even an arch II in some cases. all depends on how the person filling it out interprets 'intern' (ie non-registered). arch I, the newly registered, tended to make less than intern III in almost all cases. what it suggested to me was that experience trumped the raw license...

Sep 23, 11 9:26 am


Sep 23, 11 10:22 am

urbanist - so i've got 5 minutes to downshift from one task to another and thought I'd share the following summary from the report. hope it helps give you an overall look at the numbers.


Sep 23, 11 3:52 pm

I think there's a permissions issue there.  Flickr is telling me your page is private.

Sep 23, 11 6:09 pm

ok - let's try the link again....


(and someone confirm it works - i reset the photo to be public, but it's hard for me to know for sure clicking through since's it's still my account...)

Sep 25, 11 9:12 pm

Thanks Gregory.  Gee.. I thought I was severely underpaid.  Guess not.

Sep 25, 11 10:14 pm
Blue Marble Design

I'm hoping someone out there will help.  While still employed, there is no future where I am - so we are considering moving to California (from MT).  Can anyone share with me the regional and metro data for the Pacific Southwest?  I'll be in the Architect II/Architect III range.   I'd consider buying the regional report but don't know what kind of detail it has.



Feb 7, 12 4:03 pm

Orhan Ayyuce hits the nail on the head.  The question in today's environment has less to do with how much you are paid and more to do with how much things (especially the basics like food) cost.  Even if you are paid nominally more, most of you will find your purchasing power continuing to erode.  Deflationary depression.

Grapes of wrath, here we come, yo!

Feb 7, 12 5:42 pm
get on my level

intern 2, nyc numbers, anyone?

Jun 4, 12 11:00 am

$20/hr for 3.5 yers exp. SF?

Jun 4, 12 12:39 pm

sf - assuming 3 year intern....range is 50-58 in the survey.

ny - intern 2 - 48-55 (low to high range). 

Jun 4, 12 2:25 pm

Gregory, thanks for your super helpful Flickr image. Could I continue to be a nuisance and ask for two more numbers?

Wife and I just were offered jobs in the Northwest at the same firm. We are negotiating contracts starting tomorrow AM and would love a bit more help against the man in regards to research.  Wife is between Intern II and III whereas I am Intern I.  Any chance you might help a guy out?  Would be much appreciated!

Jul 9, 12 3:21 am

ok, so they have "pacific northwest". hope that's what you're asking for -

these are ranges - lower quartile, median, upper)

intern 1: 35,000 - 38,500 - 40,600

intern 2:  40,600 - 44,400 - nothing. weird, but no number. i'll extrapolate between i1 and i3 and say 46,000.

Jul 9, 12 8:23 am


You come through again. Much thanks!

Jul 9, 12 11:22 am


not sure anyone is still watching this thread but if so and you are willing to help I'm in a similar position here at my firm. Any chance you have the numbers for the pacific Northwest Arch III - 9 years experience? Shot in the dark here but hate to pay for the report only to have it update this fall... Thanks in advance!  

Feb 11, 13 4:54 pm

lucht - you are lucky indeed. managed to see this before it went off the front page...


ok, Pacific Northwest, Arch 3: (these are ranges - lower quartile, median, upper)

84,500 - 90,000 - 95,000


they don't have a 'year' range with that, but take the Arch 3 designation with some serious grains of salt. for example, a Project Manager in the same region ranges between 67 - 84. a Senior PM hits 84-115. methodologically  Arch 3 is a really, really broad  - it's kind of the catchall for the various categories (there is no Project Architect, for example).

Feb 13, 13 11:54 am

Fantastic Thanks Gregory! 

Feb 13, 13 5:56 pm

Need a career change!

Feb 13, 13 8:46 pm


Also late to this discussion, you are really great to share all that you have already.... (I, like lucht, do not wish to purchase, with the next one coming out later this year but am negotiating salary now) I am wondering if there is any further breakdown in the survey for Principals that are not the "managing or CEO" my case a 200+ firm and I have 25+ years - the last 5 as a there anything in the Survey that can give me an idea?  Also any info on how the Survey provides the Principal Levels or Detail beyond what has already been given  would also be appreciated in terms of if it will be valuable for me to purchase this in the future.

Mar 31, 13 2:21 pm

So I will be negotiating soon and located in Southern California.. I have one year experience with the company and was working $15/hr... but they want to put me on salary now. Any clue how much I should shoot for? Given that my loan payments are around $1200/month and rent will at least be $900/mo... I really need at least 40k to survive after taxes, etc... Were a small firm only 4 people so I feel awful asking for much.. Any feedback?

Apr 18, 13 8:33 pm

Samantha, what cities are part of SoCal? FWIW

Los Angeles (Intern 1) - $42700 (mean), $39,700 (lower), $43000 (median), $45300 \(upper)

Los Angeles (metro outside of city - Intern 1) - $34400 (mean), $30,000 (lower), $32,000 (median), $42500 (upper)

San Diego has no info for intern pay on the report

Apr 18, 13 8:59 pm

I am unfortunately located in San Diego.. it appears as though there is no information floating anywhere on how much interns are paid here. Which makes me feel extremely lucky to have a job but a little worried about how much to ask for. I feel that even though the cost of living is as high as LA, jobs are so scarce that I'd be lucky to get 40k. Thanks for your help though!! 

Apr 19, 13 1:34 pm

Does the AIA compensation report have anything you can't find on the Bureau of Labor Statistics site?

they list median (and percentile) salaries for every state and many cities. 

Jun 19, 13 12:26 am

Evan, unless I'm navigationally challenged (which happens to the best of us on most government websites) the problem with the Nat'l BoL&S numbers is it categorizes all architects as one, lump data set and doesn't break down levels of experience... interns vs non-interns, licensed vs non-licensed, I, II or III corresponding w/ specific years of experience, ie most of the generally accepted subdivisions in the field.


And thanks Greg for publicizing some of the key numbers from the AIA survey!


- ian

Jul 6, 13 12:34 am

ian - glad to. anytime. (and we still need to catch up over lunch).

evan - the aia numbers are just a different set, obtained by a different methodology. i don't know that either is 'right' in the grand scheme. meaning, both are guidelines at best. but, as ian notes, the biggest difference is the level of granularity between the two. 

bls definitely helps in determining the #'s of "architects" working. aia and ncarb don't really track those numbers (surprisingly to me). 

Jul 7, 13 7:54 am

grrrlarchitect - sorry - just saw your (now old) post. if you're still looking for the information, shoot me an email with specifics and i'll be glad to pull the information together. in short, yes, they do break down the "C suite" into a variety of positions, some technical, some not. i'll say as a categorical rule, they distinguish between "associate principal", "principal", "ceo", "partner", etc., etc. finding an equivalent for your position may take a little tea leaf reading...

Jul 7, 13 8:00 am

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