How much should I get paid?


A little about myself: I have about 2.5 years of experience. I'm done with ARE and AXP and waiting for my licensed to be approved in the state of Illinois ( I work in California though). There is an annual review coming in a few weeks.

My question: I am not sure if I should ask for a wage that matches the prevailing wage for architect as listed on department of labor's website for my region? That number is about 1.5 times what I am currently earning. I know it is not typical to get a 50% raise through annual review. Also, I know my experience level is not the same as most architects who had at least 5 years of experience when they got their license. But still, I am an architect.

I work very hard at work and I like my job. I don't know if I should ask for a wage that might sounds aggressive.

Thank you in advance:)

Feb 6, 17 2:42 am

only way you are going to get that is by moving to a new company.

your employers are used to paying you a specific rate, you got your license and your skillset is the same and now you want 50% more money...not gonna happen.

Feb 6, 17 8:43 am
On the fence

1st, you would need to be licensed in the state in which you are working.


2nd, prevailing wages don't mean crap.


Get what you can or make the move out.  Expecting a 50% raise is crazy.  You may have moved too fast through IDP and licensure.  Not really a bad thing except perception on the part of employers plus you already know that your experience is short.

Feb 6, 17 9:04 am

The DOL's prevailing wage data for "Architect" is compiled form everyone in the field, up to and including firms' owners, PMs with 30+ years of experience, ancient spec writers, etc. 

Usually there is a graph or chart of the percentiles.  With your amount of experience I wouldn't think you'd be looking at the prevailing wage (which is the 50th percentile) as comparable - you'd be looking at the around the 20th or 30th percentile. 

Think of it this way: the category "Architect" includes everyone, all the way from entry-level (though some entry-level people are categorized as "Drafter", which is a separate category, so actually the sample is skewed toward older/more experienced folks) to those with 40+ years of experience, principals, etc. - so the people around the 50th percentile are likely to be those in the 15+ years of experience range, not somebody with 2.5 years of experience.

I agree with others that you're unlikely to get much of a raise staying in the same firm.  The only way to really find out what you can get is to go interview elsewhere.  Aim high and see if it works.

Feb 6, 17 9:14 am

move to a new company. This is the fastest way to increase your salary. There is a reason the tech kids stay at their job for less than 2 years and its because they know if they jump around they can get into a better company and get better salary. 

Feb 6, 17 9:32 am

My company offered around 14% (plus a few perks) upon licensure. 
I moved companies and got a 29.5% increase. 

I make less than most of the folks on here due to location, hence percentages.  If I told you the dollar amounts, it would just make someone sad. 

Feb 6, 17 10:05 am

Mine kind of came in two parts since I was a mid-year licensee, one raise at license and the other at year end review, but ended up around 20%.

The experience is what is going to get you, but the economy is still good so why not shop around a little. Also, why aren't you getting licensed where you practice? You lack some leverage if the firm you work at doesn't do any work here in Illinois.

Feb 6, 17 11:21 am

yea - 2.5 years rush to licence = amateur hour 

Feb 6, 17 11:28 am
Non Sequitur

25% raise for split the same way as Josh describes and I got mine with just over 3 years post grad experience... but by that point I was already running multiple projects and acting as the main architect on site so it was not amateur hour. 8-)

Feb 6, 17 11:34 am

How is your salary compared to others with 2.5 years of experience? Check the salary poll here on archinect or the AIA compensation survey if you can get it. The AIA report is nice because it gives percentiles too. The DOL information is not specific enough. If I were you, I'd not run the risk of sounding greedy asking for a 50% raise and if you check that other salary info, you might find you are doing ok anyways. 

Feb 6, 17 11:47 am

I agree DOL data is not useful for this situation.

Prevailing wage has two uses that I know of:  1. it's the threshold for H1-B visas.  That's why it's very difficult to sponsor someone on a visa unless they're at least mid-career - because you have to prove that you're paying at least prevailing wage, and that tends to be higher than most people in the first third to half of their career earn, as well as higher than even more experienced people in smaller firms earn.    2. Prevailing wage is used by the DOL in determining, for those collecting unemployment, whether or not turning down a particular job offer will make them ineligible to continue collecting unemployment.  Depending on how long they've been unemployed, if the offer is 10% or 20% lower than their previous salary then they don't necessarily have to accept the offer, unless it is higher than the prevailing wage, in which case they are expected to accept it unless the commute is much farther or there's some other extenuating circumstance.

For any other purpose you should probably ignore DOL data. 

Feb 6, 17 2:22 pm

If you want to make the case for a large raise, should be based on what you can do, getting a license doesn't suddenly jump your abilities. If you can argue that you are able to offer more than you are currently getting paid for that might fly. Experience is more valuable to an employer than licensure, though it does represent a good marker of your knowledge in that you were able to get through the process and pass it all. Wages as paid in the office are more of the correct scale to use than prevailing wage in the area, any idea what other people with your same qualifications make, or those above you? An office will not pay someone with less experience/knowledge more than someone above them regardless of license status, throws off their whole pay structure. Its worth making the argument but accepting what they can do, and if not satisfied quietly start looking around.

Feb 6, 17 5:33 pm

only way you are going to get that is by moving to a new company.

your employers are used to paying you a specific rate, you got your license and your skillset is the same and now you want 50% more money...not gonna happen.

No way - with a recession on the way - don't be too greedy - if the value you provide is less than you will be the first to go

Feb 6, 17 6:14 pm

One thing to know - its not all about getting a license. You need real experience to warrant 50% jump in salary. This real experience cannot be gained in 2.5 years. Wait for 2.5-3 more and try again.

Feb 6, 17 7:47 pm

I'll take you to task on this, licensed architect does not mean good or intelligent architect and you can see this problem everywhere.

You have to unpack what "working hard" means to see if it merits a raise and if not, try to gain the experience of a 5 year architect.

Feb 8, 17 1:06 pm

More than minimum wage, less than the CEO of Apple, somewhere in between

Feb 8, 17 5:59 pm

Similar question for my situation - I have about 3 years experience. My boss knows I've been planning on moving to a new firm in a bigger city (I don't have an offer yet - my SO and I just want to make a change). I'm finishing exams and should have my license this summer. My boss offered me an immediate 10% raise if I commit to working through June 2018, with an additional guaranteed 5k bonus upon actually staying that long. I'm already paid fairly for my area/ exp level.

The offer is enticing, especially given that I might be lazy enough to put off moving for another year anyway. Of course, I'd be giving up any opportunity I could find for another year.

So anybody have an opinion or experience with this - would I be screwing myself by committing to another year at this firm? Should I expect anything more than a 10% raise if I switch jobs upon getting licensed?

Feb 9, 17 3:58 pm

^ Im in a semi close situation, I will be licensed in a few months, I have a little over 8yrs work experience, and M.Arch degree, im a few grand under 50k, I have been softly lookin around, but i think my employer knows and im not sure if they are planning to bump in pay once im licensed or not. I was thinking a bump of at least $800/month is definitely fair. Im involved in almost all aspects of services (except contract negotiating,writing & not a lot of CA, beyond site observations and shop drawings)

your thoguhts?!

Feb 9, 17 4:31 pm

s=r I hope you're in an inexpensive city. Under 50k with 8 years? 

Feb 9, 17 4:45 pm

That is just way too low.

Feb 9, 17 5:11 pm
Non Sequitur
8years experience and only 50k? Where is that?
Feb 9, 17 7:11 pm

Well, it all depends on type of experience too.  I think in engineering they call for "progressive experience": that you've gained both efficiency in tasks/skills, but also that you've continuously built up regular experience (from rendering/presentation to CDs and CAs; mid-level usually means you can do any most tasks from marketing through construction and punch lists).  Breadth of knowledge + depth of knowledge; if you've only done a small range of tasks and are lacking in critical ones, don't expect to be compensated (I see a lot in NYC that are lacking in basic understanding of detailing and construction after 10+ yrs and demanding high level PM salaries, it's just pathetic).

You have to ask yourself and your employer if you're exceeding expectations at the salaries you're asking for. 10%~15% raises are big but not unheard of, 50%+ is rare - sure you can get it when you switch, but if you don't hold your weight you'll risk your ability to advance further and establish a bad reputation.  Only times I got huge raises was switching markets and after establishing a reputation for doing good work fast and with little gaps.  Deliver and you'll be paid.

Feb 9, 17 7:43 pm

im about 2 hours  south outside of Minneapolis. Ive been in current position for about 4.5 yrs almost, In my mind, im just waiting to I get that notice of passing final exam, then I plan to approach employer about a raise. if its not min. of $800/month & a 2hr lunch once a weeks, I plan to move on.

as far as experience I spent a 1.5 yrs at strictly residential firm (65% single fam, 20% multi fam and 15% commercial) everything else has primarily been 40% government, 35% multi fam, and 22% commercial the rest would be other (weird little projects )


Feb 10, 17 12:16 pm

Are they at least reimbursing you for the exams?

Feb 10, 17 12:21 pm


Feb 10, 17 12:22 pm

I wouldn't ask for the 2 hour lunch once a week - if you're a salaried professional then within reason your schedule is your business.  Asking for a set amount of time for your lunch break is counterproductive - it shows that you think of yourself as being "on the clock".  When you have a reason to take a long lunch just state when you'll be back, or put it on your calendar, or whatever you'd do in your office to communicate your whereabouts for anything else like a meeting or a dentist appointment, and then just do it.  I don't mean put "long lunch" on the calendar - I mean just communicate when you'll be back, for the sake of whoever answers phones or coworkers who may be looking for you.

Focus on the salary issue.  If that works out for you and you stay at that office, start being in charge of your own schedule then.

Feb 10, 17 2:59 pm

I agree on the lunch thing. Asking for a set time seems unprofessional to me. You're not a shift laborer, your time is flexible as long as you get your work done so it's up to you to manage that flexibility responsibly.

Feb 10, 17 3:16 pm
Non Sequitur

I can take whatever length of lunch as I want. I just need to make up the time.

Feb 10, 17 3:21 pm

Same. Don't argue the lunch thing because as Chris D'Elia says:

Feb 10, 17 3:26 pm

2-3 times a month I volunteer at local boys and girls club and sometimes I burn vacation time. I just dont want to use anymore of my vacation time. so your saying every week keep repeating im taking a 2 hour lunch today? or just put it on calendar for the next few months? and dont mention it?

Feb 10, 17 4:23 pm

Just tell them you are going to take a longer lunch once a week to volunteer and that you'll make up that hour elsewhere in the week. Issue solved.


Just say to the receptionist (or whoever) "Hey I'll be back in a couple of hours"

and then come back in a couple of hours.

You're a grown-ass adult, do whatever the hell you want (as long as you still get your work done)

Feb 10, 17 4:25 pm

I def get the "adult" part, I think its the employers who struggle with that

Non Sequitur

I'm no adult... says I as I take cherry flavoured pez from my minion pez dispenser.

Feb 10, 17 4:29 pm

Just do whatever is normal in your office for keeping people politely apprised of whether you're there or not.  So if it's normal to just tell the receptionist "I'm going out, I'll be back around 2:00" then do that.  Or if it's normal to put "personal appointment" on your shared Outlook calendar then do that.  There's no reason you need to say where you're going or why - though in this case I can't see it hurting you either.

Surely your office doesn't expect you to use up vacation in little hourly increments like this.  Just come in a little earlier or leave a little later some days, and you'll get in all your billable time for the week.  You're not a fast food shift worker - there shouldn't be any reason that this appointment once a week should matter to anyone.  If this is a problem for your firm then that would be another reason to consider moving on.

Feb 10, 17 5:10 pm

It really depends on the office. I worked for an asshole who'd call in at 4:55pm on Fridays to make sure everybody was still working (while he was at home).

If there's not a boss over your shoulder every minute of every day, then just take your extended break. Tell the receptionist you'll be back in a couple hours, and make up the time when you get back. As long as you don't take advantage, nobody's going to care (or even notice, probably).

Feb 10, 17 11:38 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: