Like much of our market today, construction and therefore Architect is a booming business. Demand for Architect’s especially talent with strong technical skills, ability to lead projects, design and manage client relationships – remain strong.
There are a number of online resources to check the market salary in your area based on your role. Here is a list of the top seven online salary guides:
For a more specific industry look check out the AIA Salary Calculator:
Start building your Brand today
An architecture career won’t start our earning $100,000+ per year today. It requires expereince and proven and demonstrated skills. Too often professionals don’t capture and communicate those skills and qualifications – self-advocacy is hard for many of us. Not doing so could cost you hundreds of thousands across a career.
The architecture profession is a relatively slow accumulation of experience and qualifications. The sooner you can master your brand and the things that make a difference for employers will determine your future to command a higher salary than your less capable peers.
Develop your hard and soft skills
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The same is true for your architecture career. If you are doing the same thing everyday and expecting a higher salary it is unlikely to happen.
What can you do today that will make you more valuable tomorrow? Increasing your “hard skills” is a relatively easy first step to implement.
Hard skills examples:
- Design skill
- Software and computer technology knowledge – REVIT and beyond
- Code knowledge
- Industry awareness – specialized “niche” knowledge
- Business and Data analysis
- Foreign languages – we are in a global marketplace
However it is just as important to develop your “soft skills.”
Soft skills examples:
- Communication skills
- Willingness to learn
- Adaptability and flexibility
- Time management skills
- Leadership skills
Building these takes practice and focus. Your employers may help some with training and resources but don’t give up your professional development to them – take ownership of it. Here is a good resource to take these skills development one at a time The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
The average salary increase an employee receives when starting a new job is between 10% and 20%. For example, an Architectural Designer with a few years of experience may have a salary of $60,000, by levering the skills about and branding themselves can translate to an annual increase of $6,000 to $12,000!
Most employers provide annual increases of 3% to 5%. However, making calculated, strategic moves can greatly boost your base salary. If you are looking for a new position, start by checking out these articles:
Standout by reducing the stress of others
Mark Cuban stated one of the keys to success is to “reduce the stress of your co-workers”. The pains your solve and the benefits you bring.
When you are at work, reduce the stress of your colleges, supervisors, and owners of the firm. If you can reduce other people’s stress, those people will gravitate towards you. You will be seen as the leader and your colleagues will eventually want to work for you.
Here is a link to Mark’s excellent interview, I highly recommend watching.
Be a Specialist – not Generalist
Without a doubt, specialization is key to a high salary in architecture. In other words, “what do you do better than anyone else?” This can be as broad as expertise in a certain building typology and industry or as specific as hospital BIM Management. There may be a couple of areas of interest to balance your career but generally speaking the higher salaries go to those that good deep not wide
The top 10% makes almost 3x the bottom 10%! It pays to be the best.
This doesn’t necessarily mean working long hours but you need to be as efficient and productive as possible.
If you are just beginning your career, start small. Take on the task of leading a small portion of a project. By proving to others that you are reliable and dependable you will be rewarded over time.
Take ownership of your career
Many companies are not good at regular performance reviews. If your company isn’t then asking for one. If your supervisor isn’t good at doing them, then ask other senior leaders for their feedback. Take your own notes, ask for goals and how to measure them, track your own results.
This is an opportunity for you to discuss with your supervisor(s) what you have contributed to the firm and will provide in the near future. Depending on the size of the office these may be organized by the HR department or you may need to take the initiative to set up a meeting.
Make sure you are well prepared with specific examples. How and where you have been successful? What do you want to provide moving forward?
You can think of this as re-interviewing for your own job. While that may sound scary it is meant to emphasize the importance of your review and why you are asking for a raise. Generally you should have this sit down once a year but if there has been a major change in your role or responsibilities it could be sooner.
Remember, just taking up office space and breathing air for a year does not qualify for an increase. Neither does the cost of living or your personal financial situation.
Get your license
One of the best places to begin on your journey to a high architecture salary is to become licensed. Yes, it is expensive and takes a lot of time but it is very important to advance in the profession. Many firms today don’t place as much importance on getting a license – do it for your own career.
If you don’t believe that just look at the senior members of your or other architecture offices. Are they licensed? Odds are most of them are registered architects. There are exceptions, but it is best to follow a proven path.
In the U.S. NCARB is making it easier to complete your license by reducing the number of tests and required hours of internship experience. Tear off the band-aid. Just get it over with. The longer you wait the more difficult it will become to finish the exams.
Depending on your state you can complete the exams BEFORE you complete the Intern Experience Program, and you can record MORE than 40 hours per week.
Both of these techniques can greatly reduce the time it takes to become licensed. The longer you hold a license generally the more you are worth in the marketplace.
Move to a high growth area
This may not be the best solution for everyone but since we are putting all the options on the table, this can be the quickest route to a six-figure income. Often by following the cyclical construction booms you can take advantage of a hot market looking for talent.
The market in WI remains strong. I have candidates from San Francisco, Loss Angeles, New York, and Chicago receive a salary increase of 8-12% AND cut their cost of living and housing costs dramatically. The average home price in most of WI is under $300,000. Not to mention some of the best schools in the nation.
About David McKnight, NotionPath: Serving the AEC Industry for eight years connecting professionals with employers based on culture, career growth, professional development, competitive wages, and benefits. Contact me at David@notionpath.com 608-695-8438