Money money money


Was just looking at archinect salary poll

I'm seeing salaries for licensed project architects in places like SF, NYC, and Chicago, hovering between $50K and $70K. Whaaaa?

What in the fucking fuck is wrong with us? We are talking about folks with Master's degrees and 5 years of professional work experience.  This is completely outrageous - these folks shouldn't be getting out of bed for less than $100K.  My younger brother (30) works in SF as a graphic designer with a 2-yr community college degree and makes $150K. 

It's time to start reclaiming our status as professionals. As I study to write my exams later this year, it's clear to me now that we've lost all respect for ourselves, and as a wise, drunk clown once said, homey don't play dat. You guys can continue to fight for scraps (good luck) but I'm going to start looking very seriously at some alternate career paths. This camel's back has been broken.

/rant over

Jun 12, 15 2:57 am

Agreed. why why why?

Jun 12, 15 6:34 am  · 

Drafting doesn't pay much, that is all that many architects do, even licensed degreed ones. Do what I did, get another job and then be a designer on the side.

Jun 12, 15 7:14 am  · 

Supply and demand.  Simple as that.

Jun 12, 15 8:29 am  · 

geezer, there are only about 100,000 licensed architects in the entire US, is that really a huge supply?

Jun 12, 15 8:40 am  · 

its not supply and demand...architecture offices doing consistent work make money, most principals are out for themselves.  they don't want to bring the next generation up with assistance, financial or otherwise.  they were in the shit, now you are in the shit and they get to drive a fancy car.

Jun 12, 15 8:58 am  · 

I think it depends on the work, if you're just a glorified draftsman you don't deserve much money, good example is the guy who wanted to replicate his house in Montana,  He doesn't want design services and unless someone does a good job selling the benefits of an architect, he won't pay for those services. 

A lot of people have master's degrees and are licensed but spend their time doing the same things that a 2 year community college grad could be doing.  The M. Arch is just an easy way for employers to know that the person isn't an idiot, doesn't really add value.

Jun 12, 15 9:29 am  · 

In non-egalitarian societies pretty much everything is built on slave labor. 

The M. Arch is just an easy way for employers to know that the person isn't an idiot

So that's what its value is. LOL

Jun 12, 15 9:36 am  · 
On the fence

A masters degree isn't required for licensure, unless something changed.  A five year degree would suffice.  So, people with these masters degrees are salaried based on min. requirements.  The degree is just a bonus to the person who got it.


Sorry. But 50k-70k for a B. Arch seems like pretty good money.

Jun 12, 15 9:36 am  · 

geezer, there are only about 100,000 licensed architects in the entire US, is that really a huge supply?

Apparently it is, or compensation would be higher.  Sellers want to charge as much as possible.  Buyers want to pay as little as possible.  If 50k-70k is the going rate, then apparently there are enough licensed project architect types willing to work for that amount.

Add to the 100,000 licensed architects the number of people (designers, consultants, interior designers, etc.) who are basically practicing architecture without a license, and you have a pretty saturated market.

It's just a reality.  The arts don't pay shit for the majority of artists.  It's why this profession is really only suitable for the upper middle class.  

Jun 12, 15 10:08 am  · 

go work for a well known corporate firm for 5 years, and then switch career paths as a developer... many of my colleagues who are in it for the monies have done this, and been rewarded financially.

that being said, if you studied architecture for the monies, someone sold you the wrong story. marry a doctor

Jun 12, 15 11:15 am  · 

Had a partner tell me once that architectural offices are like barber shops….you can only cut one head at a time, we can’t mass produce anything. Even on our largest projects where we got paid millions, it just paid the bills, nobody’s getting rich in this business…..

Jun 12, 15 11:19 am  · 

1. Maybe architects are just shitty at demonstrating their value to clients.

No one wants to pay for what they don't understand or what doesn't have a demonstrable value to themselves. People who can show their clients how their product is valuable are the ones who will make money. I think architects balk at the idea of presenting their work as a product.

2. 6-8 years of school does not equal a professional architect with experience-based knowledge. 

Architecture education spends the majority of its time diddling around with aimless design exercises like attempting to birth a relevant architectural form from the texts of Heidegger. The result is a masterclass of indentured internship slaves who can't detail a garden shed.

Jun 12, 15 11:20 am  · 

That 50-70k is a bad number. If you look at the poll, the lower end tends to be limited experienced and no license and only a B.Arch (I assume that's the case for most). Licensed goes from 70 up but of course the bigger firms generally make more than the smaller places. I can pick and point odd examples but the data suggests a different maximum for experience and licensed individuals. 

Expectations may be set too high for this profession. The thought of those with big debts aside, a decent slightly upper middle-class salary is achievable. To expect more simply by having a degree and license and still working under another is a problem. 

Jun 12, 15 11:26 am  · 


Jun 12, 15 12:28 pm  · 

It's a vicious cycle: Architects with little technical expertise defy economic logic by keeping their business afloat with work (competitions, manifestos on social media, and teaching) and labor (free interns). And the same continues. Similar problem in some law schools, where students are taught by professors who hadn't practiced for years (if at all).

Architects talking to each other exclusively, doing Pinterest-worthy drawings that clients have little use for and make-believe buildings that will never get built and which contributes little to solve the many problems of our times. Condescension towards everyone outside their circle, even clients.

Jun 12, 15 2:23 pm  · 
On the fence


"Architecture education spends the majority of its time diddling around with aimless design exercises like attempting to birth a relevant architectural form from the texts of Heidegger. The result is a masterclass of indentured internship slaves who can't detail a garden shed."


man if that wasn't hitting the nail on the head.

Jun 12, 15 2:39 pm  · 

love it

I read 1/4 of wired's story on 2 WTC and had to stop due to all the bullshit.  The article had to have been written by BIG's marketing dept.

Jun 12, 15 2:45 pm  · 
null pointer

"Architecture education spends the majority of its time diddling around with aimless design exercises like attempting to birth a relevant architectural form from the texts of Heidegger. The result is a masterclass of indentured internship slaves who can't detail a garden shed."


I want to be your friend.

Jun 12, 15 3:21 pm  · 
led signal light

I am working with one of the prime bank here in Burkina Faso, can you help me relocate the sum of 6.2million dollars to your overseas Account Based on percentage. You will take 30% of the total sum for your effort.

(1) Can you handle this project?

(2) Can I give you this trust?

I expect your urgent response if you can handle this project.

Kind Regard.

Jun 12, 15 3:28 pm  · 

+++ Stephanie

masterclass of indentured internship slaves who can't detail a garden shed

As for demonstrating their value to clients, let's talk about what value is. Among other things, low price comes to mind.

Jun 12, 15 4:13 pm  · 

^ As to “Value” - What we are not taught is what our value is. There are two parts to value: 1) Human Value and 2) Economic Value….we are taught a lot about the first, but are not taught how to “sell” it, and we know next to nothing about the second.

I actually know more about the 2nd, but the 1st can be summed up with a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright that should be printed on the back of everyone’s business card:

“Whether people are fully conscious of this or not, they actually derive countenance and sustenance from the atmosphere of things they live in and with.” 

Jun 12, 15 5:21 pm  · 

In the end, this is a top-down thing: if owners can't sell clients on their value as architects, ultimately the employees are hit hardest. When those employees move on to become owners, they're left with a legacy of bottom-chasing and continuing the cycle.

To those above talking about drafters, that's not the subject. I'm talking about PMs - those who manage drafters, consultants, clients, AHJ, etc. An often- stressful job that requires a balance of technical and soft skills.

If our engineer consultants can do it, why can't we? It can't be any more complicated than that, can it?

Jun 12, 15 6:22 pm  · 

Stephanie by the time I knew my Heidegger in school; the most important book every student should know by heart - Architectural Graphic Standards, had nearly been forgotten. I could model crazy shit but could not draw a wall section............13 years later I am so overwhelmed with work that on two projects I resorted to doing the entire biddable set of drawings for simple porch and house additions with a pencil on one or two pages of letter size graph paper. took me at best 30 minutes per project with fully Buildable drawings. even at the friend favor prices, which these were, i still managed to make a good hourly, considerably more than PMs as per OP (considerably) . deduct time for client meetings and CAD draftsmen still a good fee. 70k is shit pay unless of course you can not manage or coordinate the design to construction process and know nothing about how a building is put together, then its good let us imagine a student who graduates with enough skills and knowledge about building single family homes,capable as I did with a pencil creating a biddable set that then can be passed off to a CaD draftsmen to give it that professional feel. 100k out of school no problem, assuming they gave you a license. then in 5 years same kid becomes a PM because now they can manage bigger projects and multiple projects at a time,it would stand to reason that you would make much more, but then competition lowers the fees and the kid now has to manage twice as much to make same pay and possibly force a lower quality of delivery on production because they are rushed which results in errors and ommisions and lawsuis and angry non paying clients and in the end to maintain the 100k+ salary they once earned while not relying on other people they have to cut their employees rates.......... .now lets put this in better perspective, more real, just about every student as Stephanie notes graduates worthless with regard to skills and knowledge and are further learning from older architects who are equally worthless as they started in much the same circumstances and for whatever reasons refused ro learn. so now you have architects with little to no value competiting for peanuts and sharing their lack of knowledge and funds with the new round of incompetancy.........ever notice how the people in the industry that are tasked with ensuring a building is buildable make sooo much more than "architects"? (construction managers, contractors,tradesmen, ownership reps,building dept employees, union laborers., Enginneers? Engineers? consultants.....) Schematic design will mot make you rich, now go make copies of Architectural Graphic Standards and start drawing wall sections and invade construction sites.....

Jun 12, 15 6:58 pm  · 

What we think of as value is often very different from what clients think of as value.

Jun 12, 15 7:19 pm  · 

deliever to your client what they think is of value while giving them what you think is of value.

Jun 12, 15 8:19 pm  · 

The biggest problem in our business is the members of the profession. A little while back an old geezer with about 15 years more experience than me wanted about 15,000$ lesser than what I was asking for a Senior Designer profession. (I was asking for $80,000). Guess whom the job went to, and guess what it tells about the profession.

Jun 13, 15 12:10 am  · 

The bottom line is that you there is a big disparity between downtown urban pay rate expectation and those outside the urban core are accustom to. 

Sure, he asked for $15K less because he lives in a less expensive lifestyle. 

Even an Architect with 40 years experience would only get about $60-65K at best because that is the economical ceiling on small towns and such. So an architect who lives in a small town outside the big city but close enough to commute would likely accept a lower salary because they are accustom to living with normal $45K to $50K a year. Why would they need $80K. 

An employer would obviously accept someone that will accept lower pay level. This profession simply is going to have to accept lower pay level because guess what, we don't got the economy in the AEC industry to support Architects being paid like tech industry because there isn't the capitalization and money flow. In other words, there is other avenues for money to be flowing than it used to be 30-50 years ago. 

Venture capitalists, investors, etc. (people with the money) aren't as excited to clamor to funding construction because we are already a well established country where we already built enough homes and other buildings to support our needs substantially for the next 50 years. Money in going into R&D projects in biotech, technology, chemical technology/science and medical and to extent education. We are not exactly needing buildings as much. 

We already have an over supply of licensed and unlicensed design professionals and design/builders for the demand. Part of that is those that should have retired hasn't left the industry, too many architecture schools all enrolling too many architecture students, and slow down and contraction of demand. Basically, we need to close the architecture schools (all of them) for 10 years to bring down the supply. 

It is said that there is 100,000 architects. I think the numbers are higher than that. Closer to 150,000. For ever architect, there is like 10 IDP interns. There is only like 350 Million citizens and in any given year only 0.1% of the population is constructing homes and there is about 7-10 homes built for every commercial/institutional project. There is about 2-3 minor residential projects for every new home built.

Jun 13, 15 12:36 am  · 

During the recession, the numbers would have a higher percentage of commercial/educational projects in relation to all projects each year.

Jun 13, 15 12:38 am  · 

^^^  There's that damned old supply-and-demand thing again.

Jun 13, 15 9:19 am  · 

Basically, we need to close the architecture schools (all of them) for 10 years to bring down the supply.

The problem is that there is no collective "we".  The schools won't self-liquidate on their own.  The states won't shut down architecture schools at public institutions for political and financial reasons.  The private schools need the cash flow like everybody else.  The AIA or licensing bodies?  Yeah, right.

The only thing we can do is spread the word to the kiddies coming up about just how bleak the prospects are.  For the rest of us at mid-career or older, it's too late.  Such is life.

Jun 13, 15 9:29 am  · 

Well, you all could have ended up being these guys....

Jun 13, 15 11:13 am  · 


I agree. Academia needs to take responsibility in informing students  of educational offerings that are in demand as part of general career advising because the point of college education is for career preparation. 

Stop leading students on paths to education that is largely useless. Most of the stuff that in architecture school that is universal to other careers outside of architecture is in fact taught in many other degree programs unrelated to architecture.

Schools and colleges often repackage their educational offering.

Jun 13, 15 12:19 pm  · 
Applying the supply and demand principle is way too simplistic. Also doesn't explain why architects make pretty much the same type money in most European countries (as in poorly paid), many of which have way less architects per capita than the U.S.. It also doesn't explain why out counterparts in structural engineering, pretty much the same in numbers, make a whole "half a bell curve more" per years of experience than what architects do. Rather I think the answer lies partly in the above mentioned poor preparation from schools - a recent grad is in some sense useless to an office that builds stuff (unlike paper offices driven by academics, where students and grads are a great asset). The other part is inability to assert our value - many people simply don't understand what an architect is useful for whereas the engineer provides obvious value. This is in part due to the non quantitative nature of architecture, but in large part also our own fault and tied to the epic fail of the "architect-as-artist" nonsense.
Jun 13, 15 6:43 pm  · 

Demand in architecture is inextricably linked to population growth in a given area. Population migration pattern is key. If a locale is growing in population then demand is increased for new construction. Otherwise, the demand is for the most part moderate matters of sustaining and maintenance of buildings and such. You would see remodels and such anywhere but new construction largely occurs when there is a need that can not be or is not already being addressed by what already is. As a general rule, if the demand or need for a building doesn't change and stays so, a building will continue to serve that need with minor renovations or technology upgrades until it will no longer support the use. 

Supply comes from various fronts. It is also a basic business equation since architecture profession is a business economy and operates on basic business principles as ALL other business. We have an over supply because we have interns, layed off design staff that set up their own businesses, building designers/residential designers, engineers, design-builders all competing for projects.

You reference Europe but guess what, Europe isn't rapidly growing in population any more (by any significant measure) than it is in U.S. There maybe localized influx of population growth but that means there is a reduction in population in other locations to make up for that. That is largely what is happening right here in the U.S.

There isn't a nation wide growth in population. We experience a boon in our locale when there is a growth influx in our area. In my locale, there hasn't been a major growth in population in 50 years. This means, the market is stale. It dropped from the all-time high population of the 1940s/50s during the late 1960s and into the 1970s and basically the same for the past 40 years. Although supply for architectural services are diminishing but also is the demand given that the commercial buildings needing significant restoration are diminished and at this point, the projects would be non-structural tenant improvement and what little structural work needed are adequately addressed by professional engineers. The contractors takes care of the space planning and interior design-tenant improvement stuff so there isn't the NEED for architects and most of the new construction commercial buildings are box stores. Not viable for an architectural career. 

Where architects are needed and where there is career viability, you need to look where people are moving and places that are experiencing significant growth and existing stock of buildings are not sufficient to handle the demand. Texas for example is doing great because the population migration influx they are experiencing and there is a need for more buildings or even larger buildings (in the commercial/academia/institutional/etc.) in response to population growth rates of over 50% a year in some cases. Places experience double or even tripling in population over 3-5 years. This is crucial factors to understanding demand and need. 

This explains the business side of the equation. The double whammy comes with ill-prepared emerging workforce in the profession. Which I agree with you. The problem is on both the supply/demand side but also on unprofessional education which is exactly what the NAAB accredited degree is. It is unprofessional because the programs do not professionally trained and prepare students for entrance in the profession which is a breach of contract and trust that was put into NAAB accreditation and the schools.

Sure, the schools aren't entirely bad. There are some good stuff that is taught in all the schools but the curriculum as a whole doesn't prepare students with the knowledge and skills needed by the profession that would be hiring them if they had been properly trained.

A problem we have is firms are expecting the schools to do it but despite the fact the schools aren't doing it, why haven't the firms stepped up to the plate and trained the employees? Good question and I bet it comes right down to $$$. Why would an employer want to spend money training somebody when they are already paying the employee money for work done. Then here is the answer, you pay a less trained person a lower pay rate then you would a more trained individual.

Jun 13, 15 9:05 pm  · 

Richard:  You are right on point about stagnant growth inevitably leading to relatively stagnant construction activity.  If you believe (as I do) that the current 2-3% US growth is probably the "new normal", that means a permanently lower demand for architects' services than we have seen in the past.

And, that doesn't even touch other societal changes which will lower the need for architects.  If AirBnB is more than just a fad, architects doing hotels and motels are going to suffer.  If online shopping (think: Amazon) is the wave of the future, retail space is going to diminish.  We are already reading about "the death of the shopping center".  I heard a statistic on CNBC last week that there are about 200 shopping centers under construction now, when 2,000 used to be the norm.  If video conferencing continues, convention centers aren't going to be built.  If the student debt crisis and skyrocketing tuition problem persists, college libraries and the like will suffer.  Telecommuting will reduce office space demand.  We could go on and on.

The signs are for the most part not very encouraging.  Warn the children!

Jun 13, 15 9:38 pm  · 

I'm sure the broader strokes have already been covered above, but I wanted to mention something about the comparison bowling_ball makes at the start of this thread. An under-educated graphic designer in SF making $150k vs. over-educated architects making significantly less. I get why these comparisons make you mad on the surface, but please dig in and see the ways that you're not comparing apples to apples before whipping yourself into a frenzy. That graphic designer making $150k, because he didn't go to school forever has a solid 10 years of experience by 30, and you're comparing to architects who have half that experience. A whole 5 years experience? You're fucking kidding me. In the context of this profession, that is nothing. Additionally, San Francisco right now is a hotbed for interactive design—this is a particular bubble of crazy, and salaries are more comparable to tech salaries. It's a different climate that has no parallel in architecture. I know this sounds like a tangent, but the point is that you should be careful making these sorts of comparisons. It's not that architects are undervalued, it's that there's this crazy little tech bubble going on in SF that your younger brother has found a way to get in on and you haven't. Don't make it into some giant thing that it's not. 

Jun 13, 15 10:01 pm  · 

empea: "Applying the supply and demand principle is way too simplistic."

While "supply and demand" may be a simple concept, it is not a "simplistic" consideration in this context. The fact of the matter is that there are too many architectural graduates chasing too few architectural jobs. There also are too many architectural firms operating relative to the demand for our profession's services. The economics of our profession will not change until those fundamental relationship changes.

Both clients and firms are operating in a rationale manner -- nobody who's paying attention will pay more than they need to pay for any service. To do otherwise is not a rationale business decision.

While bowling ball may lament the need to "reclaim our status as professionals" I doubt seriously that he would pay $25 for a haircut when he could purchase essentialy the same service down the road for $20; I doubt he would pay $5,000 more for a new car when he could purchase exactly that same car at another dealership in another part of town for much less. And, he's not going to pay extra at Lowe's for a lawnmower that he can purchase at Home Depot for $150 less. Those are rationale decisions.

Consumers - of all sorts - always will operate in their own best interests. As long as members of our profession are willing - and able - to undercut their competition to secure a commission (or job), price competition will remain the predominant order of the day. That dynamic is driven by "oversupply" relative to "demand".

Jun 13, 15 11:29 pm  · 


I wouldn't say it is a permanent situation but being a new norm for a longer term duration then yes. Of course, predicting the future is tricky business because it is unknown if we'll have another 'baby boom' anytime in yours or my life time but we have had multiple cycles. Aside from baby boom there are other factors that can increase population growth but I wouldn't say I would know what geopolitical factor that would trigger it in the future but it is always possible. 

I expect the "new norm" would be something that will be normative for quite awhile. So in the immediate long term (decade and longer outlook), I expect a lower demand for our services and that is what makes things rough because we have so many of us but not enough projects.

Jun 14, 15 12:39 am  · 


I'll add to point. Lets understand there is a big difference in the nature of architecture business and that of a tech industry business. 

1. Tech business is a commodity business and international trade commodity has magnitudes of an order higher capitalization and income source potential than a consultant service business.

2. Business model of architecture business is a consultant service based business. This type of business is very personal and typically much more local so capital capacity is much more limited.

3. Tech industry is largely venture capitalized and is a hot sector to generate revenue quickly for a tech industry professional. 

As a video game developer, in the 80s, 8 to 9 months of ones own time can make you $10 Million in 6-12 months after release. It is like the music or movie industry. You make a hit and you got 10 million people buying your game for $20 each. It is easy to get $20 from a person. Alot harder to get $10,000 or more out of a person at a time. When we command $30,000 fees from a residential client (for example), they have to pull out a major loan and go through alot of hoops and hurdles just to get the bank to approve. While, $20 is easy but you need thousands to millions of customers. In the big corporations with well established brand, they already spending millions of dollars in advertising to keep their awareness but when the general premise is that the cost of labor to the general revenue from each unit of products sold is only 10-15%. There is a whole different dynamics and more people spend more of their money on commodities then services. Each of us spend more money over our lifetime to commodities then services. Nearly all of us spends money on commodities. A significantly smaller percentage of us spends money on services and even fewer would directly spend money on service.

Tech related industry is a hot choice for venture capitalism and investment because the ROI is shorter. Even real estate developers have the wait longer for their money tied up in a project to pay itself than alot of tech projects such as software related projects.

Simply put, there is more money flow in commodity than there is in services. 

Jun 14, 15 1:16 am  · 


Exactly. I might pay more for a lawn mower if it is better or if a cheaper option isn't available. Exactly. When I purchase computer products, I'm not going to expend a great amount more. However, I might spend more money for a gallon of milk that is just a block or two away from me than it would to walk a mile each way or more to get it elsewhere. The matter comes into the issue of convenience.

So if the effort has a perceivable convenience difference then that may reflect a decision making and rationale. The key point is is the trouble of going down the road an extra mile or two worth the effort and difference. For a lawn mower, it might is the difference in cost is more than the cost of time and gas. It depends.

It comes down to whether I need it right now or can wait. I order from Newegg (for example) for computer products because it is often cheaper to buy what I need but if I need a cable I don't have and I don't want to wait a week or so for an order to get mailed to me then I'll buy it from a local computer store. If time is not of the essence, then I'll order online usually.

This is because I get the same quality product for less. This is because we want to most for the money we spend because we work hard for it.

Jun 14, 15 1:26 am  · 

Most graphic designers don't make nearly as much as architects, and a lot of them do four year degrees these days.

Jun 14, 15 1:29 am  · 

That may be but if someone already gets a job... experience has more value than academia.

In addition, there is different types of graphic design and the skill set wanted or needed depends.

I can't speak of exact job requirement. At $150K a year, I believe the graphic designer is more like a director of graphic design and in that sense is more a project director/manager role than the actual graphic design role that does the grunt work. Think more like the creative lead on the graphic work.

Jun 14, 15 1:48 am  · 


This discussion is a lot more helpful for international Grad school applicants like me!

Is a masters degree from the US, all that important and financially viable and relevant in the context that I will be going back to? (A developing place like India)

It throws light on a very important factor - financial status of a graduate architect in the US. All the costs related to this education will be a sum of 100,000 USD at the end of two years. Which is the prime reason, I'm reconsidering going for a Master's degree program at all!

Jun 14, 15 3:33 am  · 

So, what is the supply status of graphic designers? Seems to me there are many, many graphic designers. Construction is, what, about 10% of the economy or something like that. Sounds demanding to me. Many people in construction are very busy and very well paid, you can't deny this.

Jun 14, 15 4:29 am  · 

Agreed tintt. Dismissing the problems as simply supply and demand issues mask some fundamental faults in the way architecture is structured and carried out as a profession. 


Our clients make better money than we do, that's no surprise. But so does just about every single consultant, engineer, and planner. Not to mention in most west-european countries and certainly in N.America, so do all of the contractors and most of the trades-people.

Construction, real-estate, and development are incredibly lucrative business. Architects simply aren't doing enough to get their share of the pie.

How does that change though? I have no idea. Like I said, these problems are structural. Architecture is often treated as a passion, a leidenschaft, or something that is integral to one's identity and not as a job, a business. Architecture relies on minions of precarious white collar creatives who learned from the first day of design school that architecture is tough; that it's a gruel and if you don't do all-nighters you'll never really cut it. That's stupid and that's fucked up. And the worst part is that it's not just the principals who perpetuate these ridiculous myths, it's every single one of us.

Jun 14, 15 6:39 am  · 

IamGray: "Architects simply aren't doing enough to get their share of the pie."

You dismiss "supply and demand" as the culprit, yet you make the statement copied immediately above and then disclaim any notion of solutions to the problem.

While I would agree that our profession is heavily populated by individuals who abhor salesmanship and avoid conflict like the plague - bad behaviors both when trying to negotiate higher compensation - the ability of consumers to always find someone who will "do it cheaper" sets a real upper limit to compensation levels.

In the current environment sellers of architectural services frequently are left with the very unattractive choice between a) walking away, or b) taking the work at compensation lower than desired. By any rationale, that is a primary characteristic of a market where "supply and demand" rules the behavior of market participants.

Because there are so many of us relative to demand, architects have no market power -- there's always another professional ready to undermine those who try to hold the line on compensation. That will not change until the demand for services outstrips the available supply of service providers. I don't see that change happening anytime soon.

Jun 14, 15 6:16 pm  · 


So maybe you get a two year head start on an architect by being a graphic designer, who cares. Based on government statistics the average graphic designer makes 30k less than the average architect (I make more money than the average graphic designer).  You can dismiss it as some specialized position or management position, but the same thing applies to architecture. The reality is that graphic design is not a better field to make money in than architecture. This doesn’t go against BBs point, but I just think that original comparison to graphic design is misleading.

Jun 14, 15 6:52 pm  · 

The supply and demand meme only works when there is a commoditization of goods or services. Those who differentiate themselves by quality and service can charge more. The flip side is that the practioners have to deliver more also. Not thinking of the client as a moron would usually be a good place to start.

Jun 14, 15 7:14 pm  · 


I depends but agree... it depends on the role. Graphic design has a very wide wage/salary/income. It depends on factors like where you are applying your skills. Using that knowledge and skill for someone's personal website would suck in pay because they don't have the money to pay someone $150K unless they make more money.

If you are in business independently, it will depend on your market and business customer base and where the money is coming in for the business.

If you are an employee, who your employer is and what his/her/their capital revenue stream is coming from and scale of the revenue makes a big difference. 

The right answer is it depends on what and where. I agree the average income is less because the majority of work isn't going to be from a deep pocket fortune 500. There is only 500 employers in the fortune 500. Graphic design is very widely used skills. It is like an office administrative assistant. You can get a good $150K income if you are an executive office assistant of a mega-corporation making billions of dollars or you make more like $30K-60K at a smaller business. It varies. 

Aside from that semantics issue, I agree with the overall point you are getting at. Apple and orange comparison is a good point. The job sector for graphic designer in a more particular sector that pays more on average (and likely a graphic design project management position in a place like Silicon Valley where pay is known to be above average and inflated but so is the cost of living there.) then a normative standard pay where the pay can be awful. I mean sub-minimum wage (in some cases) but basically minimum wage. 

The average is about equivalent of an IDP intern's average pay at 5 years of experience point. On average, the entry level is usually around $25K-28K and reaches $35K at 5 years and sometimes plateaus at $35K to $45K with only cost of living inflation adjustments over the course of a career.

This is basically the same deal for coding monkeys.... (programmers that do the programming day in and day out and not promote upto more leadership roles.)

Volunteer, Yep... What client wants a person who sees clients as idiots and they'll read you through your body language. So if one is that kind of person, clients will be able to know you here and elsewhere and read you like a book. This is why clients have problems because we sowed the seeds of distrust so why would they want you? Exact a good point, Volunteer.

Jun 14, 15 8:53 pm  · 

I do think there is a point to be made that with very little training you could conceivably be a very skilled graphic designer, end up in a good circumstance, and make a ton of money. This would be much more difficult in architecture.

But yes, my main point is that holding graphic design up against architecture is probably one of the more flattering comparisons on average.

Jun 15, 15 2:25 am  · 

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