George Costanza in Seinfeld loved to pretend he was an architects in Miami wherever he could get away with it. To many people, to hold a job as an architect can be one of the proudest things there are. For a country filled with the most impressive buildings and bridges, there aren’t that many architects in the country at all – no more than about 200,000 in all the land. Almost all architect jobs are in engineering. About one in five architects are self-employed. It might be hard to believe that a job that comes with as much prestige as an architect’s could possibly be affected by the recession. It absolutely has been affected though; over the last one year alone, the architecture field has lost a full 25,000 jobs. The good news is that architect salaries for those who do remain in employment, have only risen. That’s what the Design Intelligence Compensation and Benefits Survey has found.
Architect salaries usually hover between $50,000 and $100,000 a year; for the kind of salary they bank, architects certainly work hard at school to gain the right degrees. Architects usually gain their professional qualifications completing a Bachelor of Architecture degree in five years, and then a two-year Master’s degree in architecture on top of it. The degrees, to have any worth, need to be with universities that are accredited by the NAAB. Once they do gain the right qualifications, architects need licenses to actually practice. To qualify for licensing, an architect needs to complete an internship and then take an industry body exam called the Architect Registration Exam. Hanging on to this license isn’t easy either – there are regular tests and ongoing education requirements.
Once an architect jumps through all these hoops and completes all the requirements, the jobs they come by will scale up in responsibilities given in each project. An architect after about 10 years in the field, can expect to come by a managerial position, or to open his own firm. Jobs for architects will really open up over the next 10 years according to estimates. An architect with qualifications in computer-aided design will be top of the heap.
While architect salaries for professionals with more than 20 years behind them in their fields can be something in excess of $100,000 a year, it doesn’t happen that way with every architect’s job. The kind of firm one is employed in, the size of city where the firm is, the specialization one is involved in, all of these have a say in what one’s salary can be expected to be. It can be a tremendously rewarding career for the kind of job satisfaction one ends up with. But it can be tough job too, with loads of responsibility.