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Canadian salaries

BackAgain

I have a copy of the 2020 Hays salary guide for Canada, which includes figures for architects. I was wondering if theses salaries are accurate because the salaries in the Archinect salary survey always seem much lower. I've attached the salary info as an image for comparison.

Also, how long does it usually take for a (highly motivated) intern to become a licensed architect? I know it varies, but just rough estimates or anecdotal evidence would be helpful.


 
Apr 10, 20 2:24 pm
Non Sequitur

Hey, I got your PM.  Not sure how/why I missed this discussing when you originally posted it, but here we are.

To your main point, the numbers listed in the typical and high category are very optimistic, especially in the intern category.  Fresh M.arch grads can expect 40 to 55 across most of canada based on their experience and billable skills. 75k to 90k is laughably incorrect... licensed architects don't even bring that much unless they are in the 12-15y exp range (not including profit shares or bonuses) or are very specialized.  Basically, all the numbers in the low table is what I see.  The problem is that there are too many graduates across all departments (M.Arch, Int Des, Arch Tech, BIM PM, etc) that really waters down the entry salaries.  Does not help that most M.arch grads don't have the same billable skills as a college tech.  Their compensation ceiling is lower tho, but they are much more useful in an office setting for the first few years than the average M.Arch grad.  Blame academia for this one... but then again, Canadians don't have the same tuition fee or health insurance premiums to worry about compared to the US.

As for your second question, it's a minimum of 3y to get all your hours reviewed and the exams are only offered once a year... so 3 to 5y is the range to complete the intern portion... but you really have to read the IDP documents and understand how to triage your experience hours.  Some categories could easily take 2y to complete while you accumulate 10-times the max hours in another categories.

Hope this helps.


May 18, 20 5:18 pm  · 
1  · 
square.

interesting. my (march) peers and i were getting 50-60k usd upon graduationa bit ago

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Bench

Is that in the states though? I find US-CA comparisons difficult to make due to universal healthcare becoming a factor.

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Bench

For the record - my experience matches closely to NS, the "lower" end of this salary scale was the most common across the board last time I worked in Canada. My friends/fellow graduates were the same from my discussions.

1  · 
Non Sequitur

square, this is in Canadian dollars. It may significantly less than the US market but there are different economical and political forces at play. Also worth noting that we don't carry 6-figure student debt. For example, a $75k CAD/year salary when in the 10y licensed arch category is about average in commercial practice. Give or take another 10k depending on location.

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bowling_ball

I second what NS is saying. The low to mid tier is typical from what I see. And salaries haven't gone up in at least a decade, which is pretty depressing. They won't be going up for some time again either, as employers will have an abundance of recruits due to recent layoffs.

1  · 
whistler

I think the qualifier that is missing is the size of firm.  Large firms have a better ability to perhaps offer better wages, also expect that the type of work is more corporate / institutional ( IE Stantec ). At least that was always the way when I was starting out looking for work.  Smaller boutique firms will offer lower wages but usually have more interesting work and will hold out for interesting work in lieu of taking projects just for cash flow ( IE Patkau ).  There is some middle ground too where a firm might have some specialization or unique attributes where they are the "go to" firm for certain project types and can offer secure employment and maybe a good base salary and a better than average year end bonus.  

I would also encourage you to think about what you are after in the professional.... money or personal development or interesting satisfying work. Negotiating the process to find satisfaction in the profession requires you to assess the dilemma of creative satisfaction or financial success  or both?

May 19, 20 2:29 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

I got a PM from the OP asking my opinion on the chart hence the slight resurrection of the April thread. It's important to note that data in the chart is from a staffing company that probably targets the larger A&E or multi-national offices who likely, as you say, can offer higher entry wages.

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whistler

T his thread brought me back to my first job after graduating.... go for the money to pay back my student loan or work in the respected firm that did cool shit!

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Non Sequitur

I remember very well when I first started looking for a real job post M.arch (summer 2009) and networked my way into the office of the principle of one of the top design firms in my city. Interview went well and we talked Gaudi, abstract painting, and did a little design charrette on the spot. Was offered a full time job at $12cad/hr... You should have seen his face when I rebuffed it on the spot (minimum wage was $10/hr back then). Was offered a counter at 15/hr a few days later but turned it down. I had my desired number in another office a few days later. Was not in a high design office but I was not going to start a career at slightly better than minimum just because of the name on the office door.

3  · 
whistler

So I graduated in 1989! and was offered a job in one of my profs offices ( corporate condo style office but did some cool large towers ) I asked for $15/ hr and got it and thought I had made it! I worked two days and realized that everyone in the office hated their jobs and hated the projects the corporate culture absolutely sucked ... I quit after two days and went and worked for two guys I knew who were home designers for $14/hr and did some fun renovations, small homes and had a great summer. Left after work got thin and worked for a big designer for less than peanuts $1000/mo left after 4 months (I was going in to debt further working for them wtf! ) Went and worked for a small firm who had good variety of projects and paid me $15/hr. Took a year of work experience to get back to my original starting wage.

1  · 
kenchiku

would absolutely love to land a gig at patkau after graduating

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kenchiku

@cyrus Nice!  One less person to compete with.

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Archinect

Canadian salaries reported architects from Archinect's Salary Poll:

https://salaries.archinect.com/poll/results/country/canada

May 19, 20 2:37 pm  · 
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midlander

it's curious to me that the relative difference between different positions varies between cities. obviously the overall cost will vary but i would have expected the value of an architect relative to project manager to be constant. makes me wonder how reliable the data is, if it's just a noisy small sample in some cities.

May 19, 20 9:53 pm  · 
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RickB-Astoria

For a moment, I almost thought I read those numbers as salary hourly rate. That is really what the profession should be paying and clients ultimately pay the billed hourly rate from those direct hourly rate. U.S. would just be a currency exchange adjustment of those figures. Too bad people undervalue and don't want to pay what the profession is worth. Those are the direct hourly rate we should be paid as employees and even when running a practice.  It's only tangential so go ahead and hide it but peek for the dream of getting paid fairly. Principals would be paid anywhere from 1.5x to 2x the "Architect" rate. Intermediates in the ladder being somewhere from 1.0 to 1.5x the "Architect" rate for the firm. I think that would be fair. Billed Hourly rate being 2.5x to 3.5x the rate of the Principal and staff hours as deemed appropriate for procuring the work in the competitive marketplace.


May 19, 20 9:54 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

We do both hourly rates and flat fee contracts...sometimes a hybrid of both with an upside limit on hours expended for a particular phase of a project. The reality is, an office as a whole (with overhead costs, rent, non-billable staff, etc) does not really make much of a profit if it keeps charging only based on hourly rates. It is up to the senior staff to charge a client according to their agreed scope of work and allocate staff in an efficient way... that is, unless you're advocating for hourly rates in the $500 per hour. If that's the case, I'll have what you're drinking (make mine a double too).

 · 
RickB-Astoria

The hourly rates given would be input data for any flat fee contract if you have a good estimate of time with float built in. I'm not suggesting firms don't do that. I agree with you. I didn't dig into it in the edit do to time constraint to post the edit. Thanks for adding. Bill the client X amount..... and build in your base profit amount you want to make at least. Being efficient with staff like any business serves to optimize your profit as much as possible but that assumes a qualified staff make-up. Little inefficiency of some staff should not break the project if managed well because efficiency of other staff can make up some of the distance and float built in can give a little safety net. Do better than your estimates and you gain more profit for the firm on the project. Does that go to the client? If you don't contractually screw yourself..... 

NO! I'm not advocating $500/hr BHR for all hours involved except if the Principal was doing all of the work himself/herself and that's the billed rate. Sure, with lower priced staff doing the majority of work, you can certainly reach the average direct hourly rate based on the position of hours budgeted per person (with float factored in). Your billed hourly rate would reflect competitively on how you apply your staffing to the project. Surely, if you can get a client willing to pay $500 per hour for all hours spent then great for your firm but realistically, the profession as a whole in Canada and U.S. would pretty much have to substantively be on-board with an upward trend on paying. 

I would hire and pay employees (and myself) those figures if the profession of architects/designers got out of the bottom feeding mud and essentially making the price the new norm. We can make it go down... we can make it go up. It's up to the profession valuing its worth and pay and essentially the clients simply has to accept the prices or don't do their project.

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RickB-Astoria

In my opinion, we should have better starting pay and better pay across the board given the education and experience. I think we would do better overall if we get paid like professionals that deals with HSW matters that requires extensive education and experience (normally).... yes, even designing homes and other exempt buildings takes a considerable amount of learning and practical experience to do competently. If I was paid $40/hr as an intern architect, I would consider working for an architectural firm but of course I could get better paid in building design as well but that comes with its own liability for a decade's time. Even $40/hr. is decent and would be what this profession used to be like when decent pay and respect.

I do apologize for not being clearer about pricing on a billed rate. The rush to make the edit limits the time it takes to composed the thoughts better. AHPP has a good reference for breaking down hours and pricing services to clients but just adjust to better direct labor rate amount.


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RickB-Astoria

Realistically, I don't think as a profession we can jump in one giant leap to these pay but if the profession increase pay per hour by $2 to $5 per hour increase at all price levels per year over a number of years and the billed amount adjusted accordingly then yeah... it is possible to get us a decent step up from the minimum wage which is already arriving at around $15/hr (USD) and why go to college for half a decade to be starting only at a dollar or two more per hour? Not fair to the workers and in a way.... not fair to the firm.

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Non Sequitur

Ricky, 40$/hr (say 80k/year) as an intern is ridiculously high. No client will pay for architectural fees at that rate and there will always be another wanker willing to do it for pennies. Numbers are where they are today because that's what the market is able to absorb... there is no magical untaped money fountain than suddenly starts flowing simply because we all want to get paid more. The problem is that the (mostly USA) cost of education and the length required creates the false sense that a new grad deserves top pay. The reality is, most don't graduate with skills that commend 80k/y salaries. Not even close.

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RickB-Astoria

We just got to get rid of such wankers. Education is a matter that CAN be addressed with education that trains the student for the profession.... professional degrees should provide professional training preparing people for the profession they are going into. I agree, it is unrealistic but we got ourselves into this mess and that is how people got into this. There is the money but people simply aren't spending it if they can always get some wanker to do it for pennies. 

Perhaps, if we got rid of exemptions and have a licensing tier for building designers can help solve some of it especially if penalties for violating is steep like $10,000 violations, 6 months in jail AND administrative dissolution of their businesses and and black listed from starting any business for 5 to 10 years. Put some teeth behind the penalties. Maybe at first, services that requires an architect and then we deal with the matters of exempt buildings (not to be discussed here on this thread). 

Good pay would make limiting the number of wankers going off on their own right away. Firms have anti-"moonlighting" and they shouldn't need to be "moonlighting" is pay is good. We need to make the education such that those getting this education actually has the skills. A sort of comprehensive test with practical would be something good for being able to pass muster in order to graduate not just getting grades with pretty pictures. They need real quality knowledge of codes including internationally when dealing with possibility of working in neighboring countries and abroad. 

Perhaps the degree should be 8 years long but not a bunch of hokie studio projects other than the first couple years. Like you said, a lot of people come out without skills warranting an $80K salary but think of this, there are people who graduates from a 4 year degree in computer science and they routinely are earning $60K as a starting salary. Yes, $60K right after their 4 year bachelor's degree. Not an education that is 1 to 3 years longer to complete. 

What's wrong with the education? (rhetorical but you can pm me what you think is wrong with the education and what you think would be skills warranting an $80K salary and how the education system needs to be revamped to serve this. The profession controls the accreditation and the education to a certain degree.... well our professional associations in effect have the influence there. If we can keep it relevant enough for the topic of Canadian salaries... perhaps. Don't want to be too out of connection with the topic.)

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RickB-Astoria

20 years ago, someone with a 2-year degree in Microcomputer programming & networking would earn around $18,000 to $29,000 back when Oregon minimum wage was $6.50/hr. Now, Minimum wage is about double that. By 2003, it was $20,000 to $34,000. This is what a starting salary would be or within the 0-3 years experience. However, the job would pay more. So now, we are talking $35K to $58K with just a 2 year degree. So $45K would be a middle ground. After 5 years, your pay would increase as you gain experience and climb the ladder from entry to intermediate and higher levels. My personal background in computers would put me in a different category above entry level. I could command easily a $60K salary but higher level salaries is possible. Now, why are interns being paid essentially in the same ballpark level? Why can't it be better? Note: These dollars are in USD so in currency exchange, that would be $80K CAD for the $58K. We have a problem of worth?

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Non Sequitur

Ricky, you can’t compare other degrees, does not work that way, but I was still referring to 80k loonies as per the subject tables. Cost of living varies between the 2 countries but from what I’ve seen/heard 58kUSD for fresh grad is not too far off especially in larger cities. The disassociation between academia and professional practice is not a mystery. The focus, in general, is placed too heavily on studio/theory culture. Imagine if equal attention to tech and prof practice was given? Then perhaps you could have better equipped grads. Right now, the

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Non Sequitur

Right now the burden of these 2 areas of education is placed on the private sector. This has a cost and entry-level (and unpaid gigs) are the result.

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RickB-Astoria

The disassociation and how the profession values its workers and itself in general and ultimately how the public perceives itself. Why should the public value the architecture profession if the architecture profession doesn't value itself? There is probably more we can compare software/web programming & development to that of architecture but that would be too lengthy on a tangent. The education system is making architecture degrees as glorified fine arts degrees with a little focus on architecture as art form instead of the professional focus that other professional educations like nursing, law, engineering, and education in medical for becoming medical doctors are more honed and focus for knowledge and skills that can be applied to their respective profession and not lose sight of it.

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