How Much Does an Architect Get Paid?

Working as an architect requires significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and salary of architects to see if this is the right career for you.

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An architect's paycheck depends on a variety of factors, including education, experience, location, industry, and whether they are self-employed or if they work for a firm, as well as what size that firm is. In general, acquiring education and experience is a good start to earning a higher salary.

Essential Information

Architects earn high salaries, but their pay varies due to factors that often influence other careers, such as job location. Entry-level interns earn considerably less, but with several years on the job, they can become eligible for significant raises. Experienced architects who run successful firms or are senior partners may earn six figures. In order to become an architect, completion of a bachelor's degree program in the field is mandatory, though a graduate degree is preferred. Licensing is required for architects in all states.

Required Education At a minimum, a bachelor's degree in architecture is required, though many architects hold master's degrees; additionally, completion of an internship is typical
Certification Passing the Architect Registration Exam is required in all states; additional voluntary certifications offered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024 7% for architects*
Median Salary (May 2015) $76,100*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Architecture Salaries and Information

Architects design places where people work and play. They are responsible for the functionality of structures, making sure these structures are safe and meet budgetary requirements. Architects often work in teams with other professionals, including construction managers, engineers and urban designers.

The salary of an architect may vary depending on factors such as work location, years of experience and employment status. While the architectural field is highly competitive, individuals who land jobs often receive high starting salaries.

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for architects in May 2015 was $76,100 ( The top ten percent of architects made $125,520 or more, while the bottom ten percent of architects earned $46,080 or less.

Factors Affecting Salary

Architects' salaries vary depending on location. The BLS reported that as of May 2015, California was the top-paying region for architects, with Georgia and Massachusetts following close behind. All three of these areas paid architects average salaries that were above $90,000 per year.

Work experience is another determinant in how much architects are paid. Graduates of an accredited architectural college program usually begin their careers working as interns. Architectural interns may make less than professional architects until they earn enough work experience to sit for the Architect Registration Examination to qualify for state licensure.

Another major factor is the employer. Architects begin their careers with firms that range in size. The larger firms typically pay more, and staying with an established firm can lead an architect to a partner or principal position. Many architects run their own practices, where their earning potential may begin slowly but can rise significantly. The BLS reported that the top-paying industry for architects was lessors of real estate; these workers made a mean yearly salary of $114,430 in May 2015.

Architects do not just design buildings and spaces; they also work with engineers, designers, and construction managers, and need to ensure their designs are functional, safe, and practical. Architects' salaries vary greatly between the bottom 10% around $46,000 and the top 10% around $125,000. An architect's location can considerably affect their salary: an experienced architect in California will make considerably more than an architect in another state with the same experience and background.

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