How Much Do Architects Make?

The average annual salary for an experienced architect is $80,000 and ranges from $46,000 to $130,000 across the country.

The engineering and design world is becoming popular among college students. A combination of mathematics and design, architecture is quickly attracting young people into the workforce.

So, just how much money does an architect make?

Architect Salary

On average, an architect makes $80,000 annually in the U.S. That comes out to a gross average of $40 an hour. However, this average salary depends on skill, knowledge, experience, education and location. While architects may charge between $60 and $125 per hour for their services, much of that goes to overhead costs, benefits or a share for their firm.

On the low end, entry-level architects make an average salary of $46,500. The most experienced architects in higher economic cities make a national average salary upwards of $130,000 annually, such as in California.

Of course, these are just averages across the U.S. and can vary based on skill and geographic location.

Intern Architect Salary

Architecture internships are often paid and average about $19 an hour. Some firms require that you already have a Bachelor’s—and sometimes even a Master’s—to hold an “architect intern” position, but these should generally be thought of as entry-level jobs. Whether you’re still in college or already have your degree, these internships can be very competitive, posting listings more than nine months in advance.

Generally, architecture students are encouraged to have at least one internship during their undergraduate education. This allows for faster entry into the workforce after graduation. Regardless, most architecture firms require at least one paid internship experience before they will consider hiring for full-time positions.

Architect Starting Salary

Entry-level architects make an average of $45,000 per year—not dissimilar from an intern or assistant. That would be an average of $23 per hour. Depending on the location (i.e. San Francisco or urban settings), this may be higher to offset the cost of living.

Architect Designer Salary

A mid-level architect designer with eight or more years of experience makes an average salary of $80,300 annually. There are many advancement opportunities from this position. Being an unlicensed designer or an accredited architect will influence growth opportunities, too.

Other Architect Positions

From a mid-level designer, an Architect Designer might advance to Project Manager, Senior Architect, Senior Project Designer, Director of Design, COO, or CEO. The industry’s CEO average salary is about $146,000.

Position Approximate Salary
Intern $45,000
Entry-Level $49,000
Architect Designer $50,000
Project Manager $74,500
Senior Architect $93,000
Senior Project Designer $96,000
Director of Design $120,000
COO $135,000
CEO $146,000

Architect Assistant Salary

As an architect’s assistant, you might make an average of about $20 an hour, or about $44,000 per year. These jobs may be full or part-time and aren’t as common as internships or entry-level positions. Depending on the needs of the firm, the role may or may not include design work and experience. Frank Lloyd Wright started as an architect’s assistant.

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Do architects get paid well?

The average architect is usually considered middle-class economic status. Being an architect is, statistically, not one of the top-paying jobs in the U.S. However, this field is not without notoriety. Those who design famous buildings and structures can be some of the wealthiest people in America.

How much do female architects make?

In 2015, female architects earned an average of $15,000 less in their annual salary than males did. This would mean women annually earned a total of 80% of what men earned annually, resulting in a 20% wage gap between men and women in 2015.

Which states are best for architects?

Based on the number of jobs available, pay equality and chances for career growth – there are certain states that are better for professionals to live in and to avoid.

Highest Opportunity States Lowest Opportunity States
  1. Alabama
  2. Texas
  3. Nebraska
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Arizona
  1. Rhode Island
  2. Nevada
  3. Connecticut

Although these states have statistically proven to be better or worse regarding architecture careers, that doesn’t account for other factors like quality of life, overall economy, livelihood and activities.

What works for one person may not work for others, and this data comes from surveys of career-based questions only.

What is the difference between a licensed and non-licensed architect?

Each state has its own set of standards for practicing architects.

  • Licensed professionals have this certification in addition to a Bachelor’s degree (or higher) from a college or university. It is illegal to call oneself an “architect” without a license. Therefore, unlicensed professionals may hold the title of “designer” or “intern” but cannot call themselves an architect.
  • Unlicensed architects are not able to work on a project without the approval or oversight from a licensed professional. This means they can work for an architectural firm as a designer but cannot have their own firm or separate, independently-contracted projects.

Basically, a license ensures that the person has been trained in and possesses the required skills to design structures that are up to code to protect public health, safety and welfare.

How much does it cost to be an architect?

To become a licensed professional you need to have an active NCARB Record (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards), which will allow entry into the Architectural Experience Program (AXP). To be an active member of the NCARB, you have to pay a one-time fee of $100.

After completion of the program, professionals can then take the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). There are six administrations in each section of the ARE, which charge $235 each. So, for all six admins the total cost of the ARE is $1,410.

Once everything has been checked and you’ve passed the exam, you must apply for and maintain an NCARB Certificate. The total cost of the certificate application and verification is $1,100. The renewal fee is $225 per year.

Total, that’s $2,610 to get started plus at least $225 a year for renewal! The cost of being an architect isn’t cheap, which is why many choose to be designers (unlicensed architects) at the beginning of their careers. This allows them to become established in the workforce and save money. Then, they can choose to become licensed or not.

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