Help me help other architects! This blog is an excerpt from the first draft of my book: Breaking the Box: Explode out of Architecture School to a Successful Career as an Architect. You can help by leaving a critique in the comment section below. And if you are just starting I suggest you check out the table of contents for an easy road map. Thx you rock! -Steve
You may have recently passed the A.R.E. Or you have put in a full year of 55-hour workweeks. You check your bi-weekly pay-stub hoping to see a change in the deposit amount only to find the same pay as last month.
You passed seven A.R.E exams and finished A.X.P. You are an architect now! And you have been working like a dog! Where is your raise?
Did you ask for a raise?
For the first 7 years of my career, I never received a raise without first having to ask for it. This even includes the period when I completed my architecture license. I still had to ask. I had to remind my supervisors that I had become a registered architect. I had to show them the list of projects that were profitable on the behalf of my hard work. I had to ask.
I had to ask and it worked.
I wish that architecture firms gave robust annual pay increases but that is not how the world works. Many firms are just struggling to get by and rely heavily on cheap intern architect labor. If you want a raise then you have to ask for a raise.
4 Tips for Asking for a Raise
You know that old adage: “You don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.”
Don’t show up to a salary negotiation without data to back you up. If you want numbers then bring the numbers.
Salary negotiation should be an objective quantitative discussion rather than a subjective emotional discussion. “I am really dedicated and have been working super hard,” is not nearly as effective as, “I put in 250 hours of overtime and my projects earned $300K in profit.” I am more convinced by the second guy.
What data should you bring?
#1 – Know what you are Worth
The AIA Compensation Calculator will help you determine where you should be with your salary. In addition to the numbers provided by the AIA Compensation Calculator, there are also very clear definitions of the different architectural positions. For example: if you are a competent licensed architect with eight or more years of experience then you should be entitled to the compensation at the Architect 2 position.
If you know that your firm has revenues that exceed $15 Million then you should ask why you are being paid at an Architect 2 salary that is comparable to firms with revenues less than $250,000.
Using this tool will help highlight to your supervisor that you have done your homework and it will also put the pressure on them.
It will force them to explain why they are ignoring industry standards.
#2 - Outline your Credentials
It is possible that the folks that handle compensation do not even know that you recently passed the ARE or have achieved other credentials. Also, it may be that your firm only gives out pay increases once a year and that period occurred one month before your licensure. So now you must wait 11 months.
Do not be emotional about it. Politely remind your supervisor that you have achieved major milestones since your last pay increase. Licensure and other credentials are tangible evidence of your escalating value. Use them!
#3 - Share Project Success
Have a list of your success working on projects. Explain how you were an awesome team member and did everything that you were asked.
Even better, find out if the project was profitable. Share those numbers. If you do not have access to that information than ask a supervisor. If your firm cannot or will not share that information than that is another separate problem. This information may not be easy to attain but if you are not willing to do your homework then you do not deserve a raise.
In addition to project profitability there are many other forms of project success that can help you achieve that raise:
• Design Excellence
• Happy Clients
• A Project that helps land a second project.
#4 – Highlight your Overtime Contributions
If you worked a substantial amount of overtime than you should definitely use that as data negotiating a raise. Keep track of your overtime contributions. Most firms utilize a timesheet database that can easily produce a summary report.
Remember Intern Kevin from part 2? Kevin donated 260 hours of his time in overtime. That time would equal $6,500 at Kevin’s hourly rate. If I were Kevin those numbers would definitely be a part of my salary negotiation.
Another way for Kevin to bolster his argument would be to calculate the additional profit based on Kevin’s billable rate. If Kevin’s salary is $25 per hour then his billable rate is likely $82/hour. Most firms use a multiplier of approximately 3.3. Therefore, Kevin’s 260 hours over contribution allowed the firm to gain an additional profit of $21,320 ($82 * 260 hours)
Kevin donated $6,500 of his time that allowed the firm an additional profit of $21,320. Kevin’s only asking for a $4,000 raise.
I think Kevin deserves that raise! Don’t you?
Nothing comes easy.
I think many people look at salary negotiations as some sort of intense psychological warfare. Or some sort of chess match.
I think it is more effective to focus on the numbers. What have you contributed? What is your value?
When it comes to salary negotiations, you must do your homework. If you can’t address any of the 4 items on this list than it will be hard for you.
I also need to reiterate that this advice is aimed towards emerging professionals in Architecture. A seasoned architect with 20 years of experience will have other expertise and value to convey.
After writing this I can only think of one thing….I deserve a raise!