Architects median salary 72,550 per year?

Stars + Stripes

The United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports that there is a 24% job growth, for architects, up until 2020.

Quick Facts: Architects

2010 Median Pay $72,550 per year, $34.88 per hour

Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree

Work Experience in a Related Occupation None

On-the-job Training Internship/residency

Number of Jobs, 2010 113,700

Job Outlook, 2010-20 24% (Faster than average)


What are your opinions?  These figures seem to be off, right?

Oct 1, 12 5:20 pm

$34.88 per hour? - what about $20/hr 4 years exp in SF area

Oct 1, 12 6:06 pm

Data for legally licensed architects only? That implies 5-10 years of experience and higher earnings for being licensed.

Oct 1, 12 6:32 pm
i r giv up

you're getting boned, xenakis.

2-3 years nets you 60k in nyc, and living costs in SF are comparable.

Oct 1, 12 6:51 pm
i r giv up

i wasn't kidding when I said that this profession was going to get segmented and hiring architects that can code would mean that firms would end up competing against software startups (my other option was a 50k job doing data visualizations/coding business analytics in r and python at in a brooklyn start-up)... guess new york is leading this time around...

Oct 1, 12 6:54 pm

I am learning Python now, and am thinking about moving over to programmer side - also I am learning how to program the Revit API - 

Oct 1, 12 7:10 pm
i r giv up

yeah, that revit python deck looks pretty hot... i have to drive myself through a few tutorials and spend a weekend on that, since I've been focusing almost exclusively on grasshopper as of lately. mostly because i can integrate that into my workflow with basically zero effort.

i can't understand how anyone would pay you just 20/hour.

i really hate architects that can't see what a good coder/revit modeler/computer person brings to the table in terms of how get shit done efficiently, even if we aren't talking about computers. which means i hate most architects.

Oct 1, 12 7:20 pm

'computer' is a thing.  once you know 'computer' it's a transferable skill to all things 'computer.'  for example, if you can build a webpage you can also maintain a hardware firewall.  also, all kids graduating from college these days know 'computer' so it's a skillset on par with filing or making coffee rather than the sort of thing that requires 'hard work.'

<rant>somewhere someone reading this believes the above.  you know who you are.  you know that you don't know 'computer,' you just think there will always be someone there to take care of you.  pay attention.  xenakis is probably smarter than you, because while you were growing old and thinking 'experience' comes to lazy people too, he passed you up.  i r is probably smarter than you too (though you might not know it from his comments), because he's been working hard to improve himself, and he obviously takes a lot of pride in being smart.  if you think you know something we don't know, back it up.  teach us.  that's what motivates us.  that's why we work hard even though there isn't much reward in it.  smart people don't become smart by saying "someone else will take care of me if i don't learn computer."  smart people become smart by saying "i don't know computer.  i can fix that.  i should work hard so i can become better than what i now am."</rant>

Oct 1, 12 7:54 pm

It's ok I R - we hate you too, you pompous ass.

Oct 1, 12 7:56 pm
i r giv up

"computer" is not just a thing. it's an extension of self. it augments the fuck out of you, and it shapes your thoughts if you let it.

and yeah, most kids "know computer" now, but most architects don't graduate with that skill set, at least right now. remember there's a lot of programs that will allow you to get by taking a single introductory CAD course (does almost nothing for you) and then drawing pretty shit for 3-5 years and talking about abstract shit like craft and phememowatthefuckology. that is kind of a shame.

so don't let me hijack this thread. 20h is a starting salary in new york at a low-end firm. i've seen high end design firms start hires with 1 year of experience at 55k. those get bumps to 60 when they hit the 3 year mark.

oh yeah, and my ego is huge bro.

Oct 1, 12 8:08 pm

When I graduated in 2007, I/we were quite computer literate and I had 11 years exp in the video game industry were i made enough money to pay 4 years tuition - now? I live in a dump in Oakland - because all the hipster social app programmers in SF make 100k+ year and caused all the rents to go up.

Oct 1, 12 8:40 pm

Would you go back to video games Xenakis?

Oct 1, 12 8:46 pm

if anything coding could become another service to provide.
Already doing this.

Oct 1, 12 9:05 pm

Want to make money in architecture? Work for a firm that doesn't do what we consider architecture

Oct 1, 12 9:49 pm

not this coding shit again. if you want to be a good architect, concentrate on learning how a building comes together. it's a lifetime effort. if you want to become a coder, go do coding. now, if you want to be more specific and say energy modeling for instance, then yes: there is a future in that, and sure, you can call your self a 'coder' if you want.

back to original topic: $72k is really nothing great if you live in a major city (where most practices seem to mingle about). Once you make more than that, it becomes kinda depressing knowing you'll have to claw your way at any incremental raise.

back to coding; all my coding friend with Comp Eng degrees make at least 6 figures. Any coding enthusiasts go do that.

back to topic; noone knows what next 20 years will look like, but common sense says that both overall industry and overall competition for jobs will increase.

back to coding; suck it code monkey!

I'm on a horse.

Oct 1, 12 11:31 pm


Oct 2, 12 12:43 am

I believe so.

Oct 2, 12 2:44 am
i r giv up

no you're not allowed to do both.


i know this because a principal told me that once. and old people are always right.




welcome to the one profession where you have to spend an hour explaining to higher management that you are indeed not an idiot (because most other architects are) and that you can in fact be good at more than two things at the same time.

Oct 2, 12 7:14 am
won and done williams

Code me the IBC, code monkey!

Oct 2, 12 11:24 am


Sure would - I think I really have something to offer in terms of environments and level design methodology - i am investigating now

Oct 2, 12 11:36 am

i r giv up
what is with the constant inflammatory remarks towards architects as a whole?

Oct 2, 12 11:47 am
juan moment

i r givup - what firm(s) pay 60k net for 2-3 yrs experience in nyc? This is not typical from my experience. 

Oct 2, 12 11:49 am

i've seen it happen in high-end residential firms, or places with some steady high end clients. If you do public work in NYC like school repairs, the salary can be pretty low in comparison.

Oct 2, 12 12:53 pm

but yeah, I think Rusty would be really good at grasshopper.

Oct 2, 12 1:03 pm

Yes. This is about right.

There's a different labor category for those employed in the AEC [Architecture, Engineering and Construction] — excluding naval architects — industry. Real-estate development, materials suppliers and urban planners are categorized in different labor pools, too.

So, there's that level of confusion.

The problem with architectural employment from 2002-2008 is simply that it was a statistically anomaly. Even if you include the employment figures from the 2001 depression, there's more or less between 1-to-5% of net surplus jobs added every year. So, if there was 90,000 working architects in 2000 with a steady 1.5% growth rate to be fairly conservative, there should be around 131,000 in 2020. That isn't too far off from the BLS statistics.

Between 2002 to 2008, architecture saw double digit growth rates— double-digit yearly growth just isn't socially or economically sustainable.

Oct 2, 12 1:03 pm

Onto the second part:

I've been working part-time on compiling a set of data about the makeup of traditional-to-'contemporary' architecture firms trying to determine the ratio of stamps-to-employees— that is, the number of architects who actually stamp the drawing their firm produces versus the number of people they employ directly or indirectly [as long-term or frequent contractors].

In small firms, the ratio is about 1:3.

In the only two large corporate firms to respond to me, the ratio was 1:9 and 1:11.

And one extreme outlier was 1:16.

The average so far seems to be about 1:6.

The point is that the number of licensed working architects does not represent the actual number of people employed in architecture.

Oct 2, 12 1:11 pm

Are those data sets available to the public or are they something you created from your own resources?

I have seen statistics like charts explaining something along the line of what you are talking about but I have never seen the numbers myself. Usually they are in $50 pdfs from the AIA.

As far as licenses go, a lot of architects at larger firms wouldn't need one because someone else can take care of the stamp duties. I know guys who can get their licenses soon but have no incentive to do so at a large office. I don't know if that represents a good model of practice to have experienced but unlicensed architects in large offices but it certainly is what I have seen.

Oct 2, 12 2:18 pm

metal, if I had a do-over I'd consider a career in computer programming instead. It's an all in or all out proposition.

What I R give up refers to as coding, is actually called scripting. And I do this sometimes in VB to automate boring shit. Scripting is more than welcome in this field. to find a better way to accomplish something, or even innovate. But it's not goddamn computer coding. yeeesh.

Oct 2, 12 3:25 pm
i r giv up

50-60k w/ 2-3 years is common in NYC firms that do high-end work (not necessarily residential) and stay away from stamping CDs.


i could drop names. but i won't.

Oct 2, 12 3:41 pm

Well I can't speak for I R, Rusty, but we've messed around with core programming enough here that it borders on computer coding.

…career change…maybe, to get over this apparent median salary of 72k

Oct 2, 12 10:20 pm

$20/hr?  lmao ... I was getting paid $25/hr while interning during my second year of undergrad xP  Find a better job

Oct 4, 12 2:10 am

Before the recession, I knew of people getting 50K+ starting in NYC, and 60K+ with 2-3 years of experience that included rendering in larger firms. After the recession, I think that those jobs disappeared. It is getting better slowly, but I think all of the entry to mid-level job offers now have a slightly depressed salary. Isn't the average salary in the US under $45K? If you compare architecture to that, number, it is higher than the average. If you compare it to other professional degrees, it is much lower. There are architecture adjacent careers that are probably better paying. Everything is a trade off. It just depends on what you are willing to give up to get more money.

Oct 5, 12 10:00 pm

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