us salaries


hello guys!

I've recently came accross various post, and of course the archinect salary poll regarding arxhitects' annual earnings in the US. 

To be honest I am very frustrated with the numbers I discovered! I saw people that graduated from huge schools like Harvard, Berkeley, Yale, MIT, Columbia earning 40-50k per year (I guess this number is tax  included - so smth like 30-35k per year).

The question is why are architects so "underpaid"? For example doctors and lawyers make much more money right? I' ve recently talked with a friend of mine that graduated from Greece (computer and electrical engineering) and he signed a contract with google that offered him 170k per year! And he is only 25 years old. Do these numbers exist for architects?

I dont want to sound like a complete asshole that does everything for the money.t I'm just trying to understand if it worths getting a loan giving me a 100k debt for studying in the US.


Aug 10, 13 8:19 pm

The short answer is is not worth 100k in debt. 

Aug 10, 13 10:47 pm

Run while you can!

and its more along the line of 150k-ish for graduate school (including living expenses and depending on place of stay).  

Are you going in as an undergraduate or grad, if so what whats your undergraduate degree in?

Everything in life, especially architecture, one should pursue it for the passion instead of the benjies.  If your passionate about architecture and learning, the experience of architecture school will be worth your wild.  If your going for the benjies look else were.  A decent architecture salary takes time.  Starting off at entry level around 40-50K sounds about right. 

Time, experiences, goals, visions and risk taking are all we have.

I owe 150K in student loans for architecture graduate school studying in SF.  Experience was worth every $, but paying back the $ sucks ass.

Good luck w/ your decision makings...

Aug 11, 13 11:24 am

Architecture is much closer to Art than to science. And it comes with the shit baggage (licensure, codes etc) that Art does not come with.

Thats why most people dont make money doing architecture.

Aug 11, 13 11:44 am

150K owed - also don't forget to factor in the money you didn't make while you were out of the workforce for those 2 - 3 years.  That's an additional 100-150K.

Sorry to bring that up.  I tack on an extra $150K to the $60K that I owe - and can't pay back. 

Geo 90, It is not worth a loan to study in the US.

Aug 11, 13 3:12 pm

Thank you guys for your honest responses! I am currently finishing my studies in Greece (5 years proffesional degree) @Quan Nyen Tran. It is not a bachelor (3 years). So I am pursuing an MArch II program. To be honest Quan Nyen Tran told me what I wanted to hear the most! That experience was worth every $. I love what I do but I thought I could make money by doing it too! Anyway thank you all! I will probably try to get scholarship from organizations here in Greece in order to gather the vast majority of the money I need!

Thanks a lot

Aug 17, 13 5:50 am

I am still very curious of the original question.  Why are we so underpaid?!  Is there any proven logic why this is so !! ?

Feb 18, 14 10:00 pm

Stay in Europe, do not study in the US its not worth the money. Unless you get a 100% free ride. I work/ worked for German arch. companies and you can make a decent living with a European degree. I have worked with plenty of good arch. graduates from various European schools. I also worked with Ivy league grads in the US, the only difference I can tell is that the american grads a far more bitter- I do not blame them. 

Feb 18, 14 10:09 pm

Agreed with architect...

Tuition in Berlin just cost me under 300 euros for the semester (including a 6 month pass for the metro... Never owned a car here, never needed to). 

I can certainly understand why Americans will choose to stay at home and study there, but as an international, I wouldn't even consider it, unless you were getting a MASSIVE scholarship. Stay in Europe. Save your money. 

Feb 19, 14 3:35 am
won and done williams
From an employer's point of view, the reason why interns/architects are underpaid has everything to do with what we can bill clients. The more I can bill a client the better I can pay an employee. Right now architects' services are priced to meet demand; relative to IT this price is quite low. Why? Could be many things: too many architects, diminished role of the architect (ie design-build options), services are too general/not catered to client needs/perceived as unnecessary, etc. Until architects can charge more for their services, wages will remain relatively low.
Feb 19, 14 11:39 am
Non Sequitur

Won has is correct. Salaries are whatever minimum wage is + a cut of your billable hours/marketable skills.

If you're a useful employee and can replace 3 to 4 less efficient interns, than perhaps you can justify a higher than average wage. At least that's how I've come to see the working world.


Feb 19, 14 11:55 am

For those who don't have the money, it's best to stick to a program where the cost is lower or you can get scholarships.  It's fiscally irresponsible to take on debt out of line with expected earnings.

Google pays a lot because they can afford to to get the talent they want (and yes, some bigger us arch offices pay much better for talent with good experience - i know of a few that make close to 100k with a few yrs experience).  Not every IT position pays that amount (and google jobs aren't easy to get/keep).  Ditto on doctors (who make around the same as architects in residency and often in smaller practices) and lawyers (who suffered a massive unemployment numbers in places like nyc).

As won-and-done addresses, as long as our clients don't think our services are valuable, we won't get paid (offices taking advantage of free interns are a whole other thing).

Feb 19, 14 11:58 am

The average architect became heavily discounted during the great recession - I know of many top performers that rode out the recession and did quite well for themselves, and are making over 80k in SF and Silicon V alley- two I know of make over 100k.

Feb 19, 14 12:29 pm

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