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Why do people think that architects are rich?

piero1910

I have been wondering this because many people believe that architects are rich, but architects do not see it the same way as other people. Where that idea comes from? Furthermore, I think that people respect as a physical thing but not as a career or profession because Architects do not get paid so well, and people also travel many times just to see architecture in cities. And, I read an article about that people believe that architects are rich. Do you think that people see architecture with more importance right now? Of course, I also understand that not many architects believe this because they are not paid well, but I do not try to refer to the economic side. What I mean is that people admire more architecture right now than before. Well, tell me your opinion.

 
Aug 24, 12 12:40 am
Rusty!

I read this in Gilbert Gottfried's voice. Fun! Whyisthisthinghappeningtomeeeee!!!!1!

Aug 24, 12 1:00 am  · 
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i r giv up

because once upon a time, only rich kids did architecture. and that cachet carries over.

 

 

not even trolling this time though.

Aug 24, 12 9:25 am  · 
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wurdan freo

The first post was significantly longer than the next two so by the time I got back to read the first post, it all came through as Gilbert Gottfried. Thanks Rusty!

Aug 24, 12 11:03 am  · 
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Technically, at least in the US, architects are "rich." An upper-level manager, a partner or a principal generally make more than about 95-98% of the U.S. It's also sort of the same way how people believe those working in the tech industry or engineering believe them to be well off.

A lot of people gloss over the fact that for every person making six-figures in tech, there's probably a dozen people barely scraping $40,000.

Aug 24, 12 11:20 am  · 
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melissasherrod

This is so far from reality. Architects make no money compared to the rest of the world with college degrees

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code

I do know of one who is rich and only because he is a developer as well - 

http://www.jonathansegalarchitect.com/

Aug 24, 12 11:30 am  · 
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piero1910

So, James. If you said that. Why do architects argue about their salaries?

Aug 24, 12 12:42 pm  · 
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code

A lot of people gloss over the fact that for every person making six-figures in tech, there's probably a dozen people barely scraping $40,000.

esp here in the Bay area - unfortunately I am the latter

Aug 24, 12 3:07 pm  · 
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Paradox

"because once upon a time, only rich kids did architecture"

I think it is partly still true in this day at least for the ones who remain in the architecture. Think about it: all those years of schooling, the constant cycle of layoffs, the unpaid internships etc. how many can really do that without a trust fund? Not to mention all the elitist snobs with masters degrees will look down on you so in order to be taken seriously by them you need to go to grad school too.

Aug 24, 12 4:09 pm  · 
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RH-Arch

Trust fund parents would never allow their children to go into architecture. Its mostly middle class or lower with financial aid.

Aug 24, 12 4:19 pm  · 
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Hyperion

My guess is that most people's exposure to architecture in the media is through the announcement/completion of starchitect projects and other expensive buildings. They therefore assume that most architects end up doing work like that instead of... all the stuff we really do.

Aug 24, 12 11:12 pm  · 
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There is a difference between being rich and having a high salary/income.  Hell, plenty of rich people don't really make any  money at all.  Some of us just happen to call ourselves architects.  That is probably why people think architects are rich, because most of us are.

Yo!

Aug 25, 12 10:42 am  · 
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piero1910

HandsumCa$hMoneyYo,

 

I do not understand what you mean with that opinion.

Aug 25, 12 4:21 pm  · 
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timothysadler®

People think architects are rich because they know we have responsibility over building permanent things, handling immense amounts of other people's money, protecting public safety and enriching our communities and built environment. 

They're always so surprised when they learn the truth. 

Aug 25, 12 5:37 pm  · 
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piero1910

I understand all your points, but my question is: if there is that ideology that architects are rich and well-respected. Why are not their salaries so well? What I mean with this is that architecture is not an easy career which anyone could do. The salaries shoudl be higher comparing them to other majors.

Aug 26, 12 2:42 am  · 
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tintt

Because it is expensive to hire an architect.

Aug 26, 12 10:03 am  · 
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RH-Arch

No, it is expensive to build, and we are usually the face the client sees. Especially in residential. You will see an architect in a suit when talking to a client, but a contractor who makes better money as an individual hardly ever is in a suit. It's all about what they perceive. You'll never see a news article about some big grand new building with all its bells and whistles, and then it talk about the head contractor or head engineer since people are not as interested in those who calculated the structural aspects or those who coordinate the construction. Architects try to be seen as intellectuals ,cultural inclined, and be in the same crowds as their clients. Perception.

Aug 26, 12 12:23 pm  · 
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mantaray

In terms of the general populace thinking architects are rich, it's because it requires a lot of education and generally things which require a lot of education tend to be remunerative.  For most of the US, you were in school a long time = you are doing something fancy = you must be being paid well.  For most folks it wouldn't make sense to go to school for a long time to not earn very much, unless you are going into the clergy or something.

Which I suppose can be kind of a good analogy for architects, actually... the cult of architecture, ha.

Aug 26, 12 3:37 pm  · 
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tintt

Rand, so hiring an architect is not expensive? What are you billed out at?

Aug 26, 12 8:02 pm  · 
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RH-Arch

An 8%-10% based on a projected construction cost is comparable if not less to what will be going to the GC who is more likely to be paid for their CO that you'd be for any AS that the client later asks for outside of the scope of work. 

Aug 26, 12 9:10 pm  · 
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aphorismal

Maybe because they are?  Relative to most non-STEM careers, architects are very well compensated.  When most people think of a rich doctor, they aren't thinking of a resident making 40k 2 years out of med school; they imagine a 45 year old salt and pepper haired model playing gold like he's in a viagra commercial.  When most people think of a rich lawyer, they don't imagine an environmental lawyer 3 years out of law school; they imagine a hotshot in a 3k suit smoking cigars behind a hickory desk.  So, what do you think people imagine when they say "architects are rich," whom do you think they mean?  They mean people who make partner, or are very high up in their professional environment.  And according to the AIA compensation survey, those people ARE very rich - in the top 2% of American income earners, in fact.  So when considering the type of architect that is referenced in the popular imagination, architects are doing pretty damn well.

http://imgs.ebuild.com/Architect/WhoMakesWhat.swf

Aug 27, 12 1:13 am  · 
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RH-Arch

What you stated made no sense.

Aug 27, 12 1:45 am  · 
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aphorismal

It made perfect sense.  In the popular imagination, lawyers are rich because of a certain stereotype, one focused on people who are successful veterans.  Same with doctors.  I'm saying that successful, veteran architects are very well compensated; thus, the public perception that architects are rich is just as valid as the perception that doctors and lawyers are rich.  Since doctors and lawyers are the two most cited "wealthy" professions, and upper echelon architects receive compensation at least comparable to upper echelon doctors/lawyers, its not at all a stretch to say that architects are rich.

Aug 27, 12 2:17 am  · 
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RH-Arch

It makes no sense because you are applying the same stereotype to architects, and then using the upper extreme from a survey as a support ignoring everything else the remainder of architects. Lumping the collective of architectural professionals into the upper 2% creates a fallacy. 

Aug 27, 12 2:25 am  · 
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aphorismal

The question was "why are architects considered rich?"  The answer is that, if lawyers and doctors can be considered rich, than so can architects.  Whether that consideration is a fallacy or not is part of a much broader discussion...

And either way, an architect with 8-10 years experience (Architect III) according to the AIA Comp report makes 92,000 on average.  As a household income, that puts that architects family in the top 20% of income earners.  Assuming their spouse makes even half that, they are in the top 10%.  And having 8-10 years experience means you are very likely under 40.  In a field with fairly linear income growth, making enough to put you in the top 10% is very good.  I'd say that qualifies as rich.

Aug 27, 12 3:01 am  · 
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there are a lot of 'buts' that should be considered in reading the AIA compensation report, aphorismal. i'm a partner in a firm of 11 people, 20 yrs experience, midwestern/southern city, and don't make NEAR $92k. i haven't checked the recent one, but the compensation reports often require that you dig in and do some regional multipliers and other manipulations to determine what's actually happening in different parts of the country. in places where i'd make $92k, i expect that i'd NEED to make $92k because of elevated cost-of-living. 

separate from the AIA report, i'm also a sole income for our family. so, in my case, my income = household income. 

Aug 27, 12 7:18 am  · 
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MStrack

Why is household income being used?

Aug 27, 12 7:32 am  · 
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RH-Arch

Not sure, aphorismal has some discrepancy issues between his different post in regard to wording and percentages.

Aug 27, 12 8:42 am  · 
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l3wis

Rand, don't be a turd. Aphorismal's point is reasonable, and comprehensible.

Aug 27, 12 9:44 am  · 
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RH-Arch

I'm not, between the post stating that  "Maybe because they are (rich)?" and then stating that they are only considered rich like doctors and lawyers to claiming that architects are in the top 2% by improperly referencing a magazine article referencing the AIA compensation report later claiming them to be in the top 20% for household income earners and on track to being the top 10%.

It isn't comprehensible because it possesses discrepencies nad hypocrisies. You cannot jsut make an argument by manipulating data and then changing the context/content of your argument.

Aug 27, 12 10:34 am  · 
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quizzical

For an unfair comparison, a typical "white negro" household is usually within the top 1%. And by "white negro," I'm going by the Norman Mailer definition that is more historically accurate than just saying "hipster."

You'll often encounter 4-8 young post-college types crammed into rather expensive housing and no one is quite sure how these supposed "trust-find kiddies" afford to do it. But, if you have 6 people living in one house and they make and average of $30,000-$40,000 dollars, their combined household income is between $180,000 to $240,000.

That puts them in between the Top 1% to Top 5% depending on the city or metropolitan area.

Aug 27, 12 11:58 am  · 
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tintt

Meanwhile, Rand's reasoning goes something like this: Architects aren't rich because GC's make more money from change orders than architects make from add services.

Aug 27, 12 1:26 pm  · 
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l3wis

@Rand,

Not to put words in aphorismal's mouth, but he stated that the $92k AIA statistic refers to people 8-10 years of experience—professionals at the beginning-middle of their career.

Earlier, he was referring to the 'partner' or 'principal' figure, that has reached the zenith of their career—the kind of architect most commonly depicted in american culture within the past century, and the kind of affluent persona most people associate with 'architects'.

Aug 27, 12 1:59 pm  · 
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curtkram

i would like more information on the source of that $92k figure for those of us in the 8-10 year range.  i don't suppose aia has made that public yet?  half of that statement sounds like me, but the other half does not.

Aug 27, 12 2:57 pm  · 
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RH-Arch

there is no there:
1. You're a troll
2. the argument is is regards to hiring an architect is expensive, but it's about the same that you will be paying for the GC. And an architect is only more expensive on more expensive projects.

Aug 27, 12 3:56 pm  · 
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RH-Arch

@jk3hl

you may very well be right, but isn't people main perception of an architect that of the 8-10 year experience as opposed to the partner?

 

@Curtkram

the AIA survey shown in Architect magazine has a wide margin of error, especially due how it designates it's regions by a collective of states. The actual AIA compensation report, which for some reason they charge members, has better information that isn't so broad. 

Aug 27, 12 4:04 pm  · 
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quizzical

@Rand: "The actual AIA compensation report, which for some reason they charge members, has better information that isn't so broad."

AIA charges members - and nonmembers -- for the report because it's damn expensive to undertake a substantial research project of this type and publish a comprehensive report of the findings. The information assembled is credible and has real value, unlike some of the 'wet finger in the air' surveys that get published from time to time by less reliable sources. AIA dues are not intended to cover the expense of special research projects of this nature.

Aug 27, 12 4:34 pm  · 
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People thinking Architects are rich...is this a bad thing?

Aug 27, 12 4:39 pm  · 
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RH-Arch

I would think it could be a bad thing for smaller firms.

Aug 27, 12 4:43 pm  · 
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Apurimac

We are rich compared to the rest of the workforce.  Hell, I'm an entry level contract draftsman and a single earner household and I still make what most combined households make in a year.  When I think about entire families living on what I make, it sort of freaks me out.

We all feel poor because all our clients are fantastically wealthy (usually).  You don't get rich in architecture, you just attain new levels of relative poverty. 

Aug 27, 12 9:30 pm  · 
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RH-Arch

Are you a draftsman for an architecture firm? And that opens up a societal issue that entire families usually can't even live on that income, there just isn't a debtors prison system anymore.

Aug 27, 12 9:36 pm  · 
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piero1910

I just have a simple quesiton. Why are architects' starting salaries low comparing to other majors? In my opinion, architects are living badly right now due to the economic recession if that is whato you mean Rand H because you said that an architect can't have a family. Since,  they earn nothing.

Aug 27, 12 11:46 pm  · 
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piero1910

Look at this

http://imgs.ebuild.com/Architect/WhoMakesWhat.swf

Aug 27, 12 11:52 pm  · 
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RH-Arch

Please cite where I said any of that.

And yes, I know what that is, it is published by Architect Magazine/AIA

Aug 27, 12 11:52 pm  · 
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piero1910

Are you a draftsman for an architecture firm? And that opens up a societal issue that entire families usually can't even live on that income, there just isn't a debtors prison system anymore.

Aug 27, 12 11:58 pm  · 
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piero1910

Or I probably misunderstood what you said.

Aug 27, 12 11:58 pm  · 
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RH-Arch

It was in reference to the post before mine stating whole families surviving on his income as an entry level draftsman.  If it is for an architecture firm it is considerably lower than for an engineering firm.  Take an average entry level draftsman salary and apply that to a household of three and then take into account insurances, taxes, and living expenses and then you'll understand.

Aug 28, 12 12:03 am  · 
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piero1910

Yeah! I understand what you mean, and that is what I am asking about. Why are architects' starting salaries low comparing to other majors? For examples: the intership salaries are really bad for architects comparing them to other majors.

Aug 28, 12 12:07 am  · 
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RH-Arch

Yup, there is a whole other thread on that. I still never stated architects earn nothing nor can support a family. Only that they are not as rich as perception. But in reference to be talking about getting around the same 10% of projected construction cost like a GC, take that and start to divide it among the workers for a firm and those considered less valuable receive less and there also needs to be some that goes to overhead and to form padding for if work dries up. Also, when clients keep wanting more for less, architects aren't in the situation to just walk away. If there were less interns too you'd get paid more.

Aug 28, 12 12:12 am  · 
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piero1910

But, why AIA or other important organization has not done antyhing to solve this situation with the salaries of starting architects or interns?

Aug 28, 12 12:21 am  · 
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