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
Money is a major theme of this book.
Money plays a tiny role in Architecture School and plays a giant role in the real world of Architecture. With the lack of proper business training, many architects struggle to run financially successful businesses. The failure of firm owners to run profitable businesses trickles down to the emerging professionals in the form of sub-standard pay.
I think that a $42,000 salary for an intern architect with a Master’s Degree is unacceptable. Overall, architects have the ability to earn a healthy income but the starting pay for entry level interns just sucks!
In this chapter, I share how you can predict your earning potential as an architect and I share five tips for increasing your income.
How much money will you make as an Architect?
Well it depends. Your compensation depends on three key factors:
Your Firm's Revenue
I will use the 2015 AIA Compensation Survey Salary Calculator to illustrate the following 3 points. I like this tool because it provides a good overview of what you can expect to earn.
In general, compensation rates will be consistent with the cost of living. The best example would be urban areas, which tend to have higher costs of living but will also provide for greater job opportunities and a larger income potential.
The AIA Salary Calculator shows that Project Managers in the Pacific Region (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA) average $83,500 in their base pay whereas Project Managers in the East North Central Region (IL, IN, MI, WI) average $78,300.
2. Position or Skill Level
As could be expected, the greater the job experience, the greater the income. The AIA calculator lists 18 different job positions ranging from Intern 1 at the bottom to CEO/President at the top.
Intern 1 shows a base salary of $41,500 and CEO a base salary of $133,600. Not exactly a fair comparison!
Since this book is aimed for emerging professionals, lets do a projection of your income for the first 10 years:
Intern 1 – Two Years or Less Experience - $41,500
Intern 2 – Two-Three Years of Experience - $46,600
Intern 3 – Three-Six Years of Experience - $51,800
Architect 1 – Licensed, Five Years or More - $64,200
Architect 2 – Licensed, Eight Years or More - $74,800
Architect 3 – Licensed, Ten Years or More - $91,300
3. Your Firm’s Revenue
The greater the firm revenue, the larger the salary level. Typically a firm’s revenue is a direct correlation to the size. Larger firms not only generate larger revenues but also larger profits. This translates into larger salaries for employees.
For example, the AIA Salary Calculator shows that the Intern 3 position earns a $46,300 base salary at a firm with revenues between $250,000-$999,999 and the same Intern 3 position earns $54,200 at a firm with revenues exceeding $15 million or more.
Another example from the AIA Calculator: An Architect 3 earns $70,900 at a firm with revenues in the $250-$999,999 and the same Architect 3 earns a base pay of $97,300 at a firm with revenues above $15 Million.
That's it? There must be more?
Location, position and firm revenue. Those are the big three factors that will dictate your income potential as an architect. I have been using the phrase ‘income potential’ because there are no guarantees and there will always be exceptions.
You could have only 2 years of professional experience and earn a base salary of $60,000 because you are a rock star! Moreover, you could have 20 years of experience and earn a $60,000 base salary because your firm has furloughed all employees because of an economic recession.
In addition to the big three factors discussed above, there are other ways that you can increase your salary. In the next part of Chapter 5 I will share: 5 Ways to Increase your Income as an Architect