Archinect
anchor

Pay!

joeuk

Morning, 

All I see on here are people complaining about the pay of an architect. Is it really that bad? Or is it down to where you live and or expectations?

Where I live in the north of England, the average salary is £27k ish PA. In my boring mundane admin job I fall below this (but my wife has a good job and is my sugar moma!) but the hope is after I have my degree I could be looking at 40k in time.

$53k a year? How would that sit with you? Over here it is a good wage, we would be able to live on it very comfortably. But then thats where location comes in to it. If we moved to London, we would be borderline homeless. 

Horses for courses I suppose. Thoughts? 

 
Sep 11, 17 3:55 am

2 Featured Comments

All 36 Comments

randomised

In Europe the pay is okay because we have affordable healthcare, education and housing subsidies, hurray for social democracy! In the US with their crippling student debts, basically no decent welfare system and unaffordable healthcare it can be really problematic. Don't move to central London then and you'll be fine.

Sep 11, 17 4:33 am
randomised

That's northern and western Europe obviously.

joeuk

But London is fun and Sheffield is rubbish.

randomised

Lower your standards and enjoy!

Non Sequitur
I started at the average salary for my area 2 weeks post graduation and have only moved up from there. With that said, education is almost free and I don't pay anything for healthcare, so hurray!

Plenty of folks take minimum wage and unpaid internships, others are stuck in repetitive CAD spots with little promotion value. But plenty more are doing just fine.
Sep 11, 17 7:02 am
archinine
Well this is a US based site and thus a majority of the posters are American. As random points out the problem is very achte in the states. It's also in the states where there exists an enormous disparity between other professions with similar amounts of liability, testing and required schooling vs the salaries which can be achieved. For instance doctors lawyers engineers, the proportion of required inputs for any of those, compared to architects, generates a substantially higher lifetime salary. Then there's the debt situation - so every additional year of Arch school is a double pain - little/no earnings + debt accumulation, in the US a B.Arch is minimum 1 extra year than the standard 4, and many people do the M.Arch so that's 7 years of school debt. If you aren't wealthy, even with a scholarship and a 'cheap' school, you'll be paying off loans for at least a decade no matter how you slice it - and that's if you're living like a monk, again vs an engineer or lawyer who will be out of the hole in less than 5 years. We're sold a story about 'professionals' consistently making a middle class living but that just isn't true for the most recent generations. People are justifiably upset that a field which they have invested their lives, which once offered a solid middle class lifestyle no longer does.
Sep 11, 17 1:11 pm
stone

"We're sold a story ... " -- but, nobody made you buy !!!!

The fact is that I know lots and lots of practicing architects -- at all levels -- who are living a "solid middle class lifestyle".

randomised

It's also because we as architects tend to give away our work for free or next to nothing in the hope that we might get proper paid work like that. We spend hours and hours on unpaid competitions and pitches that only will bring in some money if you beat all the others submitting, "the losers" can throw all their output in the trash but still need to pay their staff, utilities and rents etc. for that time that they didn't receive a dime. Somebody is paying for that unpaid work and it's the people producing that work in the first place that are basically sponsoring their employers by working for lower wages so their employers can afford to do unpaid pitches or competitions. There are even competitions where you pay to submit your work! Making profit from organising a competition, that's how sick this business is.

s=r*(theta)

In my mind in addition to the above, most people dont understand the value of an architect, or what we do, when you get sick you dont go ask you neighbor or a friend of a friend for advice or to operate on you, when you get in legal trouble you dont get you step moms uncle, image getting hacked on in someones basement floor. but greedy, cheapskate developers and owners, want the milk but not the cow. just had a guy the other day through a mutual friend asking me about 4plex,

s=r*(theta)

im like consulting starts at $250, he gives me a "well I never look" so I return the "baby's gotta eat look". ive learned like most of you have,$250 is the number to divide serious from non serious, and if the project goes dead in the water, I at least got a days pay for entertaining them

joseffischer

HAH a days pay... I appreciate the attempt at squashing some bad habits and demanding something from our clients for our expertise s=r*(theta) but last time I checked, a day's pay for your basic handyman is hovering around $500-800. When you said consulting starts at $250, I really thought you meant for the first hour.

fictional\_/Christopher

take famous professors in school  but work for dirty  real in the mud professionals when you graduate.  You should do alright.  

Sep 11, 17 8:37 pm
geezertect

Huh?

fictional\_/Christopher

if you want to make money don't work for famous architects unless you already have experience executing work

Superfluous Squirrel

For some reason lots of architects think we should be paid really well. Most architects make enough for a solid middle class life. They just think they're entitled to more, and complain about it.

Maybe because a handful of architects make a fortune? So they know its possible. 

The median family income in the US is around $53,000. That's what is solidly middle class in the US. Obviously some places are more expensive, but you can always move somewhere cheaper. 

Sep 11, 17 10:23 pm
geezertect

I don't think we should be paid what a heart surgeon makes, but I certainly think we ought to be way higher than median salary. The median education level is probably no more than one year beyond high school.

corbismyhomeboy

I agree with geezertect. Plus moving somewhere cheaper often means living in a place with fewer potential clients.

shji

Middle class income for household of one is anywhere between $24,042 to $72,126. Comparing architecture professionals' salary with median salary doesn't mean much especially when 70% of Americans over 25 years of age do not hold bachelor's degree. 53k is tight in cities where architects live in order to get jobs. I know because I am doing it. That's below what engineering or business degree kids start with right out of school. Architecture workers are really underappreciated and paid lower than what they deserve, by clients and by owner architects who run businesses. Even if a company is paid well by big clients, the majority of pay stays with the principal or top few managers instead of being distributed fairly to the remaining team members.

joseffischer

gotta disagree with geezertect, if you're the project architect running multiple large jobs, or the specialist writing specs in your firm, etc, I don't see why you shouldn't be paid as much as the heart surgeon, it's no less difficult. I mean ultimately, surgeons are just technicians if you think about it, and used to be paid as such. Go in, look for a problem, work on the problem, patch em up and leave. That's what I pay my plumber and HVAC guy to do too.

Nats

The fact is the pay is dreadful compared to how long we train and in comparison to other members of the construction sector such as  Planning Consultants, Project Mangers, Quality Surveyors and Structural Engineers. The only time I have got over £36k is when I worked contract when I got around £40k - this is in the north of England.

However I have moved around a lot, if I had got a good job and stayed there I would probably be on around £45k now, but also I would be a manager not an architect. To make any sort of money in architecture you have to become a manager or a developer. If you try to go it alone you can get less than £35k for a long time.

And when you compare us with IT Architects the salary we get is pitiful. But then we are arty farty and it is true we do more enjoyable work than most other people so I guess it sort of evens out. But then again architecture is really badly hit by recessions as well.

The only time I have really enjoyed my career was when I worked in London for my year out but you cant get a house there so I wouldnt want to work there long.

Having worked in the career for over 25 years I wouldnt recommend it to others and certainly am trying to get my kids to look elsewhere for their careers. You have to be really dedicated and really love the whole process to get anything much out of it.

I have certainly worked with a lot of dissatisfied, fed up people over the last few years, the latest recession in the UK really hit architecture hard. Now everyone is out to make when they can as quickly and easily as they can, ignoring rules and regulations everywhere and exploiting their staff. Its difficult to be a good architect now and very disconcerting

Sep 12, 17 4:28 am
archiwutm8

That sounds crap, a BIM technician earns 35 - 55k in London with 3 years experience.

Nats

An architect in London might be on £70k but thats nothing when a very basic property in London will cost you £500k. £35k is nothing in London, probably equivalent to £15k here in the north .

Featured Comment
daer

An architect on £70k??!! Unless this is an associate/director or practice owner this sum is far from current salaries. Take a look at the RIBA appointments salary guide. https://www.ribaappointments.com/staticpages/10290/salary-guide-2017/

OP, in the UK you need 5 years experience post Part III to get up to £40k. Just take into account that a friend of mine is making £45k just out of a 3 year graduate scheme in London to put the above into perspective.

joeuk

Cheers Nats, I cant wait to get started! :-)

Sep 12, 17 7:18 am
geezertect

The advantage you have now versus 40 or 50 years ago is that internet sites like this one allow you to "hear" many different practitioners give their perspective. You don't have to go in blind which is what many of us old farts did, to our regret.

Nats

Well yes best to go in with your eyes open, it isn't the career to make lots of money in. Its a passion for many. If you want to make money you be an accountant etc.

archinine
There's seems to be a misconception on this thread about what middle class means. The median household income of $53,000 is not middle class unless one lives outside any major metro and has no family eg is single and childless.

Most people in that bracket had little to no college schooling much less grad, and thus aren't paying any loans at all. The problem is when Arch grads get working they are stuck with those median salaries and pretty much relegated to living in or near expensive cities (take a look at the places hiring on this site for an idea about where the work is). On top of that they're paying down a mountain of debt and delaying marriage kids etc for well over a decade. Hardly middle class. The $53k earning factory worker in a rural area is definitely living far closer to the middle class lifestyle than anyone who finished Arch school in the last 10 years. $65-75k is middle income in most US cities for a single earner. It goes up to $100k for a couple. Throw in loans and that erodes all vacations, consumer goods, house purchases etc associated with middle classdom.

Those people touting that it's possible are heavily in the minority, likely were lucky to be in a position where they didn't have to take loans, and even more likely graduated well over 10 years ago before the debt burden became what it is. Just because one can survive off a architect's paycheck doesn't make it a middle class life, much less worth the egregious time and expense of acquiring it.

We 'bought' the story because at the time we were kids it WAS a profession you could make a decent living at. So shame on us for following through and getting screwed? Doctors lawyers engineers bankers, their salaries have increased to adjust for the loan situation, architecture has not. And yet whenever society thinks of the 'professions' architect is almost certainly on the list of respectable careers.

The industry has changed. Arguably one of those changes includes what others have mentioned which is the free work and the unpaid competition hours. While these aren't new advents they've certainly proliferated the field en masse at a high economic cost to the profession.

Perhaps as more and more of us leave the field something will change.
Sep 12, 17 8:10 am
geezertect

Perhaps as more and more of us leave the field something will change

Unfortunately, the only things that change are the names on the payroll.  There's never a shortage of kiddies who will drink the Kool Aid and contract Stockholm Syndrome and figure it out only when they are early middle age and locked in.

joseffischer

agreed, I look at the polls of arch grads incoming each year and young professionals getting registered and the numbers just keep going up : /

Architecture is a service business. The value of a service is inversely proportional to its degree of completion. The crapitalist model of entitlement discounts everything. The most expensive stuff is the best (verified by cost) but is even better when you get it below wholesale. 

As the only people who can afford architecture are self-appointed masters of the universe, architects are subject to their fantasies and neuroses for the duration project or however long they can last. 

This apples to residential work of course but I know an architect who got the same treatment from a municipality. Private developers are there own special brand of hell on scorched earth.

Having some success in the art world I can look at this a bit more dispassionately. Ironically the same kind of people who were my architectural clients are now buying my art. The difference is I don't have to deal with them, that's the gallery's job.

Sep 12, 17 8:30 am
archi_dude

I don't think it's the amount of pay being low or not being as much as people expected but realizing that the effort put into the career vs. the financial reward is way off. You could reach high mid-career architecture salaries by skating by in almost any other field. However, I do think if more effort was placed on being profitable vs. just making art the salaries would tend to inflate as services reflected clients needs more.

Sep 12, 17 9:24 am
Tinbeary There there

In addition to all of the above, I'll add the issue of cash flow. I have plenty of work right now and the fees are a satisfactory amount but getting the client to pay is hell. I have to ask 5 times to get paid, and if I ask once a week, that is 5 weeks, so I am floating and paying my expenses with no compensation for an entire month. So I'm getting money today for instance, but I should have gotten it in July.  Meanwhile, I didn't pay my CC bill and now will get smacked with charges. This is common and well documented in construction businesses, it happens to subcontractors too, that they do their work and don't get paid for it for sometimes many months later, giving the owner an interest free loan the whole time. This can take you down even if you are doing good work. It does no good to have a giant tank of money if your faucet won't open up and let some of it flow. Also, it is pretty easy for a client to just never pay... what miles said about value of work is inversely proportional. You start out with such promises that you have a decent job and are working hard for it, then ask for payment and the client is like, for what? We don't really need you anymore. Um. Retainers help, but it still happens.

Sep 12, 17 9:50 am
Tinbeary There there

Also, if you are at a firm you are likely salaried which means you do whatever it takes to get things done for the same amount of pay. Running 8 jobs as an employee at a firm means it's common to have to work 50 or more hours a week to get paid for 40. Week after week gets really wearing. Along with a paycut I was doing this and I calculated that althoguht I had a good salary (75th percentile) I was making $11 an hour because I was actually working 60 hours a week compounded with a 60% salary to avoid layoffs, this went on for almost a year. At some point you have to ask yourself what you are doing and why, why you are working to make other people rich, cause there is money in development projects, you just don't get any!

Sep 12, 17 10:25 am
joseffischer

heh, the old "recessions are tough, gotta tighten the belt, not much work" and you look at your timesheets and they tell a different story. been there, done that, leave.

archinine
To those more seasoned architects and or owners of firms, what do you think it is that keeps clients from paying in a timely manner and moreover, is it the nature of the construction industry itself that lends us to do work 'on loan' compared to say a doctor or lawyer who won't lift a finger for a client without a retainer?
Sep 12, 17 10:29 am
Nats

I personally think its because architects are not generally businessmen they are artists and let clients get away with murder. Best decision an architect firm can make is employing a very strong business manager to chase the fees and negotiate new jobs.

geezertect

Most architectural work is for private sector owners and developers. The developer business model is to use OPM, other people's money. They borrow as much as they can on a project, and use equity investors for the difference. They act as middle men bringing the factors of production together. Having almost nothing in the project but their time, their return on investment can be astronomical on a percentage basis. If they can diddle their suppliers and subcontractors, including professional consultants, along, the return is even higher. They are basically carnival barkers and professional bullshitters. That's just what they do and who they are. They don't over intellectualize what they do, and neither should we.

Residential: the overwhelming behavior of entitlement that consumes the wealthy.

Developers: A combination of that and penny-pinching cheapness to maximize ROI that makes Ebenezer Scrooge seems like a philanthropist. 

Tinbeary There there

And working for a developer, this is how it works: I submit for payment to guy #1. He approves it and sends it to his partner. Partner approves it and sends it to the lender. The lender's schedule is such that it takes 3-4 weeks for them to approve it. They give money to guy #1 to pay me and he finally pays me. Can take 2 months easy. I don't get to dictate how I get paid, I can say payment is due 2 weeks after invoicing but that's not how they work. So if you want to work with them, you are at their mercy for how they want to pay cause they are in charge. Big companies with big accounting departments work like that too, they pay bills once a month, not as received.

stone

tintt -- when you work for developers you have to take that processing into consideration when you establish your fee. Mark up your fee estimate accordingly -- bankers charge interest on loans and in a situation like that you are the developer's banker.

Tinbeary There there

Yes, thank you.

Good luck with that.

geezertect

You can only charge what the market will bear, and when you're in an overcrowded field the market won't bear much. Reducing the number of architects is the only way to get the price up. How to do that in the real world is anybody's guess.

fictional\_/Christopher

My services are like a drug. Like any good drug dealer i withold what is needed until paid. Only when in good faith i do something do i get screwed. Not all the time but most the time...

Tinbeary There there

geezer, how is that there are "too many architects" but many have to work 150% of a full time job just to stay on top of things. How can the problem be not enough work for too many people as you say? I expect more and better thinking from you. There are only about 100,000 architects in the US but how many buildings are there????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

quizzical

tint: you raise an interesting question. Here's my take -- when you compare today's work environment to, say, that of the 1960s, there are some important differences.

First, today we're required to provide hugely more documentation than was the case back then.
Secondly, compared to the amount of new construction, there are many more graduate architects working in the profession today than was the case back then, when in many firms the bulk of the documentation was done by professional drafters, not graduate architects. In essence, graduate architects have taken the place of drafters, with all of the attendant issues related to pay and job satisfaction.
And, finally, fee levels clearly have not advanced all that much -- especially since the Consent Decree and standard fee schedules went away.

I tend to agree with geezertech -- there are too many architects relative to the market for our services and the way the profession is structured today.

Tinbeary There there

I agree then too. Nice summation.

I would add to that changes in social economics such as concentration of wealth and the abuse of that financial power as well as the commoditization of everything including architecture.

Houses used to be homes, now they are "investments". Thus ROI takes precedence over everything else.

geezertect

tintt: they are working 150% of a normal work load for basically two reasons. First, the firm can't afford to hire additional people because the fee is not high enough. Secondly, employee architects are willing to work insane hours mostly because they have to or they'll be replaced. Low fees are a symptom of weak pricing power due to oversupply. Employee's fear of being replaced is a symptom of shortage of jobs.

Tinbeary There there

I am finding that my fees are enough, if the project actually sticks to the original scope and schedule. The problem is that it never does and you have to either piss off the client by asking for more money or just suffer through it. Then the next time the same client asks you for a free proposal and it is higher now and they balk and say it should be cheaper now because we greased the wheel! but you say, oh no I lost my ass on that job! Love how every job turns into an E&O insurance premium payment too that in some states you have to pay for 25 years. Every job thus is also at least a decade of liability. Something that makes me reconsider my ability to do this on a part-time basis like I've been doing. If the cash stops flowing, you still have expenses that don't stop. (Please correct me if I'm wrong on that.)

cipyboy

the profession is due for evolution I think. I think pursuing hybridization is the answer for all the economic woes we have. The "architect as developer" idea sounds promising. Our scope of services should be stretched and expanded.


Sep 14, 17 12:05 pm
3tk

Complaint comes from largely kids out of school - the relative entry level salaries compared to other professionals in urban areas is low.  At mid-career it's a decent salary, NYC median salaries hover north of $77k.  That's about median for the city, but mid-career it's easy enough to make $100k and have decent work hours.  Can't meet surgeons and corporate lawyers, but probably not much different than general practitioners and ambulance chasers.

Sep 14, 17 1:19 pm
geezertect

If making less money in NYC that an NYC sanitation worker is your idea of "decent" money, then OK. I think most architects, if they are honest with themselves, would admit that the profession is deeply disappointing in almost every way that normal people gauge an occupation.  Long hours, low pay, no security, and work that is as boring as most work usually is.

archinine
100k is barely middle income in NYC...certain neighborhoods 100k is less than 80% AMI...don't get how you're living off 77k in the city and ok with that mi career while PR agents and consultants of near any trade, and yes garbagemen, are out earning you by 10s of thousands. Yet the city is where the jobs are.
Sep 15, 17 7:31 am
randomised

If people were so annoyed with the pay, they'd be consultants, PR agents, garbagemen or door men...it's not like those professions are out of reach for people with an architectural education.

Non Sequitur

I don't mind that garbagemen make more than the average architect. Their job is important and unlike the average dumb millennial arch grad, they were never sold the illusion that their carrer choice was special and worthy of financial glorification.

archinine
Random and NS it's honestly less about the pure salary and more along the lines of geezer's notes- most of what we do isn't interesting, in fact it's quite boring, yet requires an enormous amount of schooling, licensing, and liability...every other Profession, as in requires specific training licensing and liability to operate, is paid substantially more. So yeah it's pretty disappointing and seems quite backward that it takes 8+ years of schooling/experience minimum to reach the lower pay tier of entry level no degree required civil service positions.

But yeah all millenials are just so stupid. Especially when they leave the profession after getting fed up with the crap pay. We're so dumb for warning others of the bleak reality. Dumb us for not being prescient as 10 year olds. So dumb.
Sep 15, 17 9:39 pm
Non Sequitur

The problem is that it does not take 8 years of training to do what we do... it's 2 to 3, but people still think the infinite hours of studio count like it was med school. They don't hence the dumb millennial comments from earlier... and for the record, I find what I do daily to be damn interesting. Perhaps you've made a few wrong turns and definitely bet too much on one horse, but there is plenty to be interested about our profession. Just don't expect those sexy studio design skills to cure cancer.

randomised

If what you do you do not find interesting...do something else. It has nothing to do with being a millennial or not. Get out while you can if you're unhappy with what they make you do, so maybe someone else might take your job who actually enjoys it.

sameolddoctor
The best part about Archinect is listening to stupid fucks that think we should be paid equal to a heart surgeon. Take your head out of your ass, and understand that a heart surgeon has had about 10 more years of rigorous education than you, and actually saves lives. A decision by a surgeon at the operating table can never be equal to however many hours of Revit you pound or what "teams you lead". The first step to making a better life is to know your role in society.
Sep 18, 17 1:29 am
Nats

cough...Grenfell Tower...cough. Good architects can save lives too - if they were respected instead of ignored, if they stood up for themselves instead of accepting stupid idiotic clients decisions just because they are paid a small fee by them. The problem is there are allowed to be lots of cowboys who will always undercut others and provide a cut rate service. This is the fundamental problem - no practical regulation. The ARB in the UK does nothing.

Sep 18, 17 3:50 am
geezertect

........instead of accepting stupid idiotic clients decisions just because they are paid a small fee by them.....

Architects will always have to accept the decisions of their clients.  In case you've forgotten, the client owns the building.  Not you.

Sep 18, 17 8:24 am
Nats

Yes and they employ architects to make them lots of money, but then refuse to listen when advised, they drill architects down on fees, and cut every corner going then wonder why they've ended up with a rubbish job and sue the architect. And meanwhile most architects just let them get away with it. About time we stood up for ourselves and started refusing jobs with rubbish clients, setting fees according to the risk, and refusing lousy work then we might start getting some respect.

geezertect

Hate to be a broken record, but the problem is too many architects chasing too few commissions.

Tinbeary There there

I thought the problem was increased workload and 50+ years of failed leadership within the profession. And hey, if we have numbers, we should have some clout and some ability to influence more than if we don't. The best thing to do with rubbish clients is refer them to your competition. Everytime I get rid of a bad situation, it frees me up to find a good one. Everytime.

archinine
Pretty sure not a single person on this thread suggested architects be paid as much as heart surgeons. You all must be pretty self loathing to think your work should be valued below similar desk jockey professions. Also last I checked it required minimum 5 years of school plus 2.5-3 to acquire a license so yeah that's 8 minimum for the vast majority. It's not an entry level job, to get hired one needs specific education and training. Stop pretending as though all the required specialization is interchangeable with the myriad of professions out there that simply require 'a degree', architecture isn't one of them. Demanding median pay for a highly specialized set of skills and training seems completely reasonable, after all it's what any other career track profession does. But here people just have such a 'love' for Revit and wranging consultants etc that apparently they don't need a survivable wage and asking for one is sac religious. Honestly you're masochistic and or nuts for thinking it's ok to be paid below every other white collar profession in exchange for your 'love' of what you do. Accountants love what they do too, and they actually make a decent wage!
Sep 18, 17 8:41 am
Non Sequitur

maybe you can claim highly specialized skills after say 15years in the working world.... but no one coming out of school can and they get what the market can afford/sustain as wages. Where would all that extra money for junior salaries come from in your idealistic world?

sameolddoctor

And I quote:

And this is just fucking stupid.

"joseffischer

gotta disagree with geezertect, if you're the project architect running multiple large jobs, or the specialist writing specs in your firm, etc, I don't see why you shouldn't be paid as much as the heart surgeon, it's no less difficult. I mean ultimately, surgeons are just technicians if you think about it, and used to be paid as such. Go in, look for a problem, work on the problem, patch em up and leave. That's what I pay my plumber and HVAC guy to do too."

I dont think its OK to be paid lower than what other white collared professionals do, but ones gotta wake up and smell the poop. This aint changing.

archinine
NS I'm not talking about junior grunts. I'm talking about the lifetime salaries and average wages of a mid and end of career professional architect as compared to other white collar professions of the same experience level. If anything the juniors are the only ones paid at a similar rate to other professions. It's the higher up positions which are sorely lacking, and the bleak prospect of attaining major lifetime milestones is why so many talented experienced professionals leave the field - not just the young ones fresh out of school.
Sep 18, 17 10:30 am
joseffischer

A work colleague of mine and I were treated by the contractor after the grand opening of a 10-story mixed use apartment with standard ground floor retail wrapping some parking. We're both starting our mid-level careers, I just got registered, and she's done with 4 of the tests. We're both paid in the 50s/yearly, though I haven't been able to peg her salary exactly. So after a few drinks, both the contractor and the developer said they expected we should be making near 100k and when they heard we weren't near that number, the developer suggested he could find us something to do on his team for that amount. The next morning on our way back, we discussed how much of this was just after-hours beer talk, and she said she'd been offered 85k from a previous developer on one of our last projects. My question is, do developers have in-house architects often, and if anyone has such a position, how do they like it?

Non Sequitur

Archinine, what's your location in general and how far below the average wage are you at that makes you so salty? I started above my area's median salary back in 2009, and am obviously way higher now without a milestone missed. Perhaps you need to re-evaluate your career path before claiming the system is against you.

randomised

Weren't you going into visualisation anyways?

quizzical

joseffischer - after about 5 years of post-degree practice (and after obtaining both my license and an MBA) I was offered a job by a big developer in my home town. The job was not to be an 'architect' per se, but to function as a construction manager on large commercial projects -- I managed the developer's budget, hired and supervised the architect, engineers and contractors, worked directly with the lenders in processing draw requests and spend a lot of time dealing directly with tenants. Initially I was paid about 150% of what I was making as the employee of an architecture firm. Eventually my compensation included both salary and bonuses, plus limited-partnership interests in projects I managed.

I loved the work and, surprisingly, had much more control over the architecture of our projects than I ever did in a design firm. I also think the work I did there made me a better architect because it helped me understand both the motives and the pressures faced by developers. 

geezertect

Why did you leave?

quizzical

geezer: The real estate crash of the early 1990's left me with little to do, so I took some time off. When things started picking back up, I decided that I missed practicing architecture so I re-entered the profession as a principal in the firm that I joined.

geezertect

So you are now practicing rather than working for a developer? Did that require a pay cut? Just curious.

Roark’s Revenge

If anything the juniors are the only ones paid at a similar rate to other professions. It's the higher up positions which are sorely lacking, and the bleak prospect of attaining major lifetime milestones is why so many talented experienced professionals leave the field - not just the young ones fresh out of school.


+1 , Renumeration for most Employees tends to Plateau at about 30-35yrs of age .   

Sep 18, 17 5:01 pm
Featured Comment
Archinect

salaries.archinect.com

Sep 18, 17 6:22 pm
archinine
For the record NS I'm in a major hub and substantially above the median because I demand it or leave if I can't receive it.

The fact that the ceiling on mid career pay is capped at the knees is an industry wide problem, and the root cause is more related to ever dwindling fees than it is greedy principals hogging it up. Frankly principals aren't paid very well after 20+ years in, again compared to most professions where workers have similar years experience.

I'm not salty I'm being realistic. And yes I plan to leave promptly after finishing the license process which has been slower than I would have liked but is just around the corner for me. I'll be sure to come back and let you know how quickly I can finally get married and buy a home with a post architect salary. It's unfortunate because when I first researched the profession as a teen the salaries weren't substantially lower, now that I've gotten thus far things have changed. So it's time to adapt.

I think it's fair to reveal this info to incoming interested parties such as OP. It's ridiculous to think that enjoying your work means it's ok to not be compensated appropriately in correlation to the expertise and training required to perform that work. It's that attitude - like yours, I don't mind being undercut cuz I luv CAD and code books or whatever - which has eroded fees over the past two decades. You really think doctors lawyers accountants engineers etc don't enjoy their work? Yet it's only the architect who will do stuff for free/near free. And if one architect doesn't, another will. We see it on this very site - a ridiculous question about their property etc gets posted, 3 chime in saying hey that costs money and inevitably some idiot posts a technical answer for free. Why would a client pay with that sort of internal industry attitude? The self deprecation and devaluing of the legitimate specialization involved in our work is astounding.
Sep 19, 17 11:50 am
joeuk

As always this website gives me little pearls of wisdom that I wouldn't normally get without it. It is certainly bringing me back down to earth, but on the flip side, I will never be an architect and the salary from being a AT is still better than I get now, and the school and learning is what I am looking forward to most. I see it as a win win, but for you architects I totally get were you are coming from with all this.

Non Sequitur

Archinine, I still believe you value an architect's contribution too highly and you certainly don't gain ground by comparing them to professional with actual difficult training backgrounds (ie. Doctors and Lawyers). The facts are: it's not hard to do what we do and expecting money to magically appear is a sign you don't quite get it.

quizzical

archinine: while I applaud your 'can do' approach to the profession and your own compensation, in the long run you still must practice in a profession that is dominated by the fundamental dynamics of ‘supply and demand’. With that in mind, you might enjoy this quote:

Warren Buffett
“With few exceptions, when a manager with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for poor fundamental economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.”


Sep 19, 17 12:06 pm
sameolddoctor

Wonderful quote

fictional\_/Christopher

If warren buffet said it,its true,not joking

Xenakis

If anything the juniors are the only ones paid at a similar rate to other professions. It's the higher up positions which are sorely lacking, and the bleak prospect of attaining major lifetime milestones is why so many talented experienced professionals leave the field - not just the young ones fresh out of school.

So true - the fresh out of college punx are getting paid more than those with 5 - 10 yrs exp

Sep 19, 17 12:20 pm
Bench

Doubtful

randomised

You say "so true" but give a totally different account or summary of what Roark wrote :) 

It's not that people 5-10 years in earn less than fresh juniors but less than people with 5-10 years in other, similar or comparable fields.

file

random: I simply don't see the point of constantly comparing our compensation with other professions. If you want to be paid like a doctor or like a lawyer then you should have studied medicine or the law.

We're architects -- if we don't like the way we're paid, then we should find ways to improve the economics of our own profession. The economics of law, medicine and accounting have nothing whatsoever to do with the economics of architecture.

geezertect

file: you're right, but all some of us are trying to do is warn the wannabes about what the realities of the profession are. Too many people believe the glamorous depictions of architects that they see on TV and in movies.

randomised

file, agreed. I don't care that much particularly about how much everyone is making. I'm doing more than fine myself and am not even working full time. Also don't have huge study debts or medical insurance because I live in a civilised country so there is no need to live to work my ass off but I can simply work to live and enjoy life. And I even work on high profile projects and do really interesting and relevant stuff mostly while taking care of my kid at the same time. No complaints here, wouldn't change it for working as a lawyer or doctor in a million years :)

Tinbeary There there

I like working part-time from home with my kids too and think it's a great job with great pay, I'm on cloud 9, this is exactly what I wanted. Working at a firm full-time, salaried though, ug... no thanks, i don't want to turn into an angry, fat office person. I like naps and exercise. And no commute.


archinine
Quizzical - great quote. Completely agreed. I've really appreciated hearing your stories across a few posts here about alternatives to architecture proper while remaining in the AEC field. I'm looking forward to spreading out - I certainly cannot solve these issues alone.

What's that other quote, can't beat em might as well join em. That applies here in some capacity.
Sep 19, 17 12:38 pm
archinine
People need to stop getting hung up on the doctor comparison. I don't understand why you keep misconstruing the argument that architects should be paid a middle class wage with architects should be paid the same as doctors. Literally no one on this thread said that. Accountants. In fact I believe I said accountants repeatedly. Similar training time similar level of difficultly. Just because you yourself are an architect doesn't mean that skill set isn't specialized or valuable. Anyone can be an architect, just as anyone can be an accountant, with years of respective training. The years of training and relevant experience in whatever speciality are the part that clients are paying for. The fact that apparently so many architects fundamentally cannot comprehend basic labor economics, within their own profession no less, makes it no surprise they've shafted themselves out of earnings. I don't think I've ever witnessed a group of people who so consistently consider themselves and their time apparently worthless and of no financial consequence to a world entrenched in capitalism. It's mind boggling. Frankly I don't ever want to understand NS's point because if I did I'd wind up drawing on napkins under a bridge, for free of course.
Sep 19, 17 2:45 pm
Non Sequitur

No you would not. You'd be far less salty thou and probably better company at cocktail parties.

sameolddoctor

(good) Accountants save people money, or help them grow it. That is a TANGIBLE gain. What we do most times is not tangible. This is why my CPA bills at $350 an hour while im billed at $150 an hour (and i get far below that)

whistler

I left the big city for a small market that became a big market and I am ( after 25 years ) "the big fish in a small pond, not a ton of competition with other firms.  I ask to be paid fairly for my services, do a good job, try and be nice to people, turn away bad clients or bad projects and try to keep the quality of work reasonably good.  Never marketed our services and never been out of work.  Currently have about a 12 month work load, decent for a small 4-6 person firm in my mind. I don't let invoices get over 45 days without a personal phone call from me or advise them we will stop work and move on to other projects that respect our need to manage the office in a professional manner.  

It's a decent profession, and provided my family with a very respectable lifestyle. But when I talk to others who work in a larger firm or in a very competitive market it sounds hellish to me. 


Sep 19, 17 4:00 pm
archinine
For the record that's my quote not Roark's.

But thanks for the kudos.
Sep 19, 17 7:06 pm
randomised

How confusing O.o people should use italics or quotation marks when using someone else's text.

arch76

The comparison between architects and surgeons never takes into the consideration of the risks each professional has to take on an hour to hour basis. Both professions have the potential professional capacity to kill many, many humans. The difference is an architect typically has the luxury of time to research/discover any flaws that may expose them to risk/liability. I think this reduction in stress alone is easily worth whatever difference in salary the hospital is paying...

Sep 19, 17 10:21 pm
archinine
Too bad so many architects are apparently illiterate and cannot read the thread -in which no one ever purports architects should make the same wage as doctors. But thanks for beating a dead horse 76!
Sep 20, 17 12:05 am
arch76

hey archinine- i never said you had to be literate to kick a horse- take a chill pill, boss

Sep 20, 17 12:22 am
geezertect

Forget the heart surgeon comparisons.  Yes, medical education and direct personal responsibility for another human life is more demanding than being part of a group of people designing a building.  But can't we agree there is something strange when we make less  a mediocre stock broker or an insurance salesman?  The average corporate bureaucrat makes more and probably has a liberal arts degree.

Sep 20, 17 7:28 am
fictional\_/Christopher

someone above mentioned what we do is not all that hard.  Its true after 10 to 15 years experience, but not after school until licensure since you are learning while producing a lot of stuff  you do not fully understand......the loss to salaries occurs with the biggest overhead  architects have, which is employees, because they all have to be trained including people with experience.  Trained to fit your office's business and practice model, which is odtrn just a reflection of how the principal does architecture.  Someone else noted above the juniors at 5-10 years get paid the best.  If you have been somewhere 5-10years  trained by that firm only or have 5-10, just enough to be highly productive while not overiding your bosses, you probably are the most profitable employee as you take care of the execution gap as per the principals business model.


now on practice and business models.  My favorite examples are small scale vs large scale projects.  I have seen 20 page sets for a single family addition, a set that can often be done in 3 sheets in less than a day by a single practinoner.  The first architect coming from large scale projects probably barely made money worth their time, the second architect a few hundred an hour no problemand probably had a mai thai for lunch in an hawaiin shirt since they work from home. On big corporate projects sometimes a detail has to go through 8 hoops before approved where on a small project a hand sketch and an email solves the problem.  I have also seen both large firms deliver the same product essentially - a new building - at literally 10 fold price differences.  The end product only discernable to architects.  This is more complicated.  On one hand one firm is clearly more efficient but may also not provide same level of service.  Client A does not need the service and Client B does.  Again this is where loss or crazy profits occur if you misgauge the client based on your business and practice model.  So when there were agreeable fee schedules the architect who had a better practice and business model and better clients could make a lot of money because presumably the fee schedule reflected working with the worst client - minimum wage per say......end morning ramble

Sep 20, 17 7:34 am

Block this user


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

  • ×Search in: