I am incredibly surprised to see that the generally, for the same position, the larger the firm, the lower the salary, UNLESS, you're hired for a lead role on a high-profile project. True or false, and if true- why? 

Oct 6, 19 6:03 pm

Supply and demand.  Job seekers apparently prefer large firms over smaller ones.

Oct 7, 19 8:15 am
Chad Miller

Depends on the client.


But are the bigger firms providing a bigger benefits package as part of the compensation? I know you can't actually quantify that without seeing what they offer, but my experience has been that even if they provide a slightly lower salary, the benefits package is leaps and bounds ahead of the comparable one from the smaller company.

Oct 7, 19 9:35 am

I think this is largely true. One thing that is often not valued properly though is free and flexibility. Large firms are typically a bit more rigid in their policies, whereas smaller firms, seeking to fill the gap in compensation/benefits, will often be more accommodating to flexibility requirements. Benefits packages are stupid expensive for a firm, the smaller the firm. So to offer something similar to the big guys, the small firms would have to pay a scale premium that they just cannot afford.


Thats a subjective interpretation of compensation though. And completely reliant on the employee/employer relationship. I work at one of the biggest firms in the country and have received wide-ranging flexibility both in my work assignments, creative input, compensation, and support from the firm. Compare this to smaller offices I worked at, which felt suffocating in contrast, as they almost always relied on the "big-ideas-guy" to trickle down small work tasks to the worker bees.

Chad Miller

I've had the same experience but reversed. In smaller firms I was needed to do a bit of everything where as in the larger firms I was pigeon holed so to speak. Both had there positives and negatives. Mainly it was the size and scope of the projects, bigger firm, bigger projects. The firm I work at now is around 12 people and our big projects are 100,000 sf, $35 million dollar projects which for me is just fine.


I think that's fair. The general consensus seems to be that smaller firms offer more design freedom. I have in turn found the opposite to be true in my career, personally. Then again, my firm has a great working culture for such a big place. We're "starchitect-adjacent", winning some famous projects, but simultaneously pursue a rigorous business model, which defines our size and growth.

Chad Miller

As other have said the total compensation goes beyond the salary.  Health insurance, retirement accounts, ect all factor into the compensation.

Also don't forget that there are advantages to working for a bigger and smaller firm.  It's all about what you're looking for.  

Oct 7, 19 9:54 am

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