How Much Do Architects Make?

Hey, Eric here with 30 by 40 Design Workshop,
answering one of the most common questions I receive, which is, “how much does an architect
make?” It seems everyone cares about compensation
and certainly, I get, it but I actually think it’s not the only question to be asking because
it doesn’t capture one of the most important dimensions of your financial life. But, I do want to answer the question right
up front and then I’ll get into what I think are the more important questions – the ones
we should be asking – as well as my recommendations for how you can earn more no matter what you’re
doing right now. So, stay tuned for that a little later in
the video. So, how much do architects make? Well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
here in the US, the median salary for an architect in 2016 was about 77 thousand dollars. Now, the top 10% earned more than 130,000
and the bottom 10%, less than 47,000. Where you’ll fall within that range depends
on factors like: geographic location, firm size, your level of experience, and the project
types you’ll be working on. For a more granular look at these data check
the Bureau of Labor Statistics website as well as the AIA site, which has a compensation
calculator. Both are linked up in the description below. When I graduated from architecture school
with my BArch and stepped into my first job as an intern architect, I earned something
like $24,000 a year. To figure out your hourly rate divide the
annual salary by 2,000. So, 24,000 was roughly $12 an hour. Woo man; that was more than 20 years ago. Now with a salaried position all that overtime
you work is unpaid. And so, the effective hourly rate was probably
a lot lower. Of course, salary is only one component of
your total compensation. In that first job, health insurance was also
included as well as a 401k plan and I think there was even performance-based profit sharing
in place. And so, the value of the compensation package
was certainly higher than the $12 per hour I mentioned. However, and this is important, having health
insurance didn’t directly help pay off my student loans or to pay my rent. So it goes without saying that your cost of
living is an integral part of this discussion too, and this brings us to the more important
questions we should be asking ourselves when it comes to figuring out compensation. And that is, “what are your expenses?”
and “how much debt are you in?” What’s left for you to do as you choose after
you pay all your expenses each month. These are your net earnings, that’s the number
you really care about, right? It’s possible to make a lot less in earnings
and still come out ahead of someone making much more than you if your expenses are lower
than theirs. The best part about this is it’s something
you can control and change, today even. In business terms, this is your profit and
to figure out profit it’s very simple: profit equals gross revenues minus expenses. If you only focus on gross revenues the, “how
much does an architect make?” question, it wouldn’t accurately reflect the
amount of money you have left over, the amount you can use as you please, whether that’s
reinvesting in your business, or for leisure, or travel, or a new home, or whatever you
choose. Addressing only the revenue, the compensation
side, while ignoring the expense side is just bad business, especially when you realize
how it truly impacts the compensation equation. Let’s use my first job as an example. Graduating architecture school with a mountain
of debt meant the compensation that really mattered to me at the time was cash. Now, that’s not to say that having health
insurance didn’t matter but it mattered a whole lot less at the time than making the
monthly student loan payment, and paying the rent, and food, and beverages. The liquidity of compensation is something
you should care about and the expenses you carry directly impact it. The higher your expenses are, the more liquidity
you want because it allows you to direct your monies where they matter most to you. Now, it’s obvious that the best scenario is
having as few expenses as possible, which again, allows you to choose where you apply
your resources, not your creditors. Now, on to the thing that everyone wants to
know: how can you earn more? I want to start by saying that earning more
requires a value exchange. Simply asking for more because you think you
should be paid more; don’t do this. Always ask yourself, “what’s the value exchange?” Bringing more experience, or expertise to
the table, is worth something. Products propose a value exchange. Specialized services, skills, or assumption
of responsibility, or risk; these are all value exchanges you can negotiate around. Okay, here they are. Start by understanding your full financial
picture. You need a budget to show gross revenues minus
expenses. Now, you don’t have to own a business or run
a detailed profit and loss – although you may choose to – anyone can do this. Every dollar you reduce your expenses increases
your net earnings. Think about it, you’re giving yourself a
raise here. You want to strive to run a debt-zero business
– and life – if you can, which gives you an enormous amount of negotiating room and optionality. No debt means you’re in control, not your
creditors. Now, I realize this isn’t possible for everyone,
but your budget is necessary to flag these problems and make them explicit. I hear from so many people not only architects
who complain they’re not being compensated fairly, but are financing vehicles and homes
that are well beyond their monthly net earnings. Now, not all debt is bad, it often to makes
sense to carry some debt if you can leverage it for tax purposes, but it shouldn’t enslave
you to taking work or projects that aren’t a good fit just to keep the lights on. Number two, control your time and put it to
work for you. Time is the most precious resource we have. When you recognize that time can be manipulated
to your advantage you’ll see it as an asset to be strategically deployed rather than something
working against you. Divorcing time worked from income or fee earned
can be life-changing. I recommend reading the 4-hour Workweek by
Tim Ferriss, which fundamentally changed the way I think about my relationship to time. Check the cards for the link. Make things once to sell many times rather
than offering a one-for-one exchange of time for dollars. Designing products for sale or developing
productized services are two of the ways that I do this. Now, number three: diversify your income. This goes along with the previous example. Selling products is a scalable revenue model;
selling your time isn’t. Don’t just sell your time. When you tie yourself to a single form of
income, let’s say the standard service-based model, where you’re working one-on-one with
clients, you’re far more likely to suffer when something related to that income stream
changes. Clients put projects on hold, they trim their
budgets, there are economic downturns and all kinds of unforeseen circumstances. Diversifying your earnings tempers the extreme
swings and once you’ve recouped the cost of making your product, it’s all profit. Build it without spending anything and it’s
profit from the first sale. Number 4: become indispensable. If the lowest 10% of our profession in the
US is paid less than 47,000 and the highest is paid more than 130, that’s a huge divide. Where do you think the experts fall on that
spectrum? When you become the best at what you do, higher
compensation follows. And this doesn’t mean you need to wait until
you rack up 20 plus years of experience, you can be the best at anything you choose if
you put in the hours and seek to become the expert. Now, I don’t know everything there is to know
about drones, but if I know just that much more and have just that much more experience
here locally, then I become the local resource. And, when people hire me I get more experience
and a little more name recognition. This builds over time. Pick the thing people come to you most often
for and own that niche; this will make you indispensable and pay dividends. Number five: work for yourself. About 20% of our ranks are self-employed,
myself included, and speaking from experience, I can tell you this is one of the ways to
make practicing architecture very lucrative. Most of us start out working for someone else
as a consequence of the professional training that’s required of us. As I transitioned from working for others
to working for myself I was forced to learn the business of architecture. Set a reasonable professional billing rate
and do the math. Let’s say you bill out at a theoretical 150
dollars per hour and about 50% of your time is billable. In a year, that nets roughly 1,000 billable
hours and when you multiply that by your hourly rate you’ll gross 150,000 dollars annually. Now, of course you’ll have operating expenses,
which you’re gonna keep as low as possible, and taxes, insurance costs – not to mention
all the risk you’re assuming – but I’d be willing to bet that you’d still be ahead of
where you’re at now. And, the bonus is that you’d be building equity
in something that’s yours, not someone else’s. Now, I know this isn’t for everyone certainly
but it’s a good way to quickly earn more and it doesn’t have to be a full-time gig necessarily
either. Is this something you can start on nights
and weekends? Yes. Number six: get licensed. Now, you can’t set off on your own and expect
to bill out your services at $150 per hour without a professional license. Passing your exams and achieving this professional
milestone confers distinct advantages and a much higher earning potential is one of
them. Do you need to be licensed to do what you
do? Maybe not, but consider where the top-end
commission’s will go when you’re contemplating whether or not to seek licensure. Will they go to the ones who have the title
of architect, or to the ones that don’t? Now, this isn’t said to disparage anyone who
isn’t a licensed architect, only to say that in my experience, architects get first pick
of the really good projects and clients, the ones with the budget, the ones who will gladly
pay for your services, and ultimately fund the kind of architecture you’re capable of
designing. To truly become wealthy, I think you should
be asking yourself, “what do I want out of this profession?” or more importantly,
“what do I want out of life?” I’ve said this before, but I want to repeat
it because I think it’s really important: start by defining precisely what success means
to you. Now, I recorded video on this topic and I’ll
link it up in the cards. If money is the primary motivating factor,
the thing that defines success for you, practicing architecture probably is gonna leave you unfulfilled. There’s so many other professions that pay
better than architecture, but for me – and I think for most – success isn’t defined solely
by how much money I have in the bank, but rather how happy I am in life. Success for me is defined by three things:
the freedom to do what I choose, a purpose – that is to say something driving me forward
each day – and finally, relationships, having family and friends to share life wit. Notice money isn’t in there? Sure, money is important, but it isn’t driving
the decisions I make each day. Does this make me wealthy? Well, I think so, but not by any real objective
measure. It certainly makes me happy. And, I don’t share this to brag, only to show
that it’s possible to feel wealthy and successful without all the trappings that people seem
to correlate with wealth these days: the fancy cars, the swimming pool, and expensive clothing,
exotic vacations. Imagine for a moment if for every dollar you
earned in a month, half of it was spoken for with debt to finance the visible trappings
of societal wealth. How very different that existence would be,
if every hour you worked, 30 minutes went to paying off your debt. That’s a fundamentally different transaction. Even if you’re working for yourself, you’re
not actually working for yourself, you’re working part-time for your creditors while
you pay them back. In that relationship, who’s leveraging time
and experience, you or them? They are, right? Focus on flipping that relationship and you’ll
be rewarded in countless ways. Please smash that like button if I’ve helped
you at all and comment below, tell me what you think about these ideas. Doing this helps me grow the channel and to
know that I’m making the kinds of videos you like watching. We’ll see you again next time. Cheers!

100 thoughts on “How Much Do Architects Make?

  • Hey man love the videos! I'm studying it in Australia while working nightshirt in a factory, struggling to find work though in an office.

  • im starting to watch all of your videos and it really inspires me a lot, im an Architect here in the philippines and same with you i have my own architectural studio, and i think we have the same passion in photography and music too..

  • Thank you very much for your video. I am both an architectural and mechanical drafter and I want to push my career further, I have a passion for architecture, what are the best steps to take in order to get licensed? It’s difficult to work for yourself when you don’t have a license especially in states where a license is required because the building department requires a stamped drawing either by an architect or an engineer. You are 100 percent correct when you said that success is not just having a lot of money, it’s the happiness you achieved along with the skills and education you gain through experience, you have to have a passion for architecture, not just the money, it’s like music, if you don’t have the passion for it you will not produce hits because it’s not in you, I hope what I said make sense. One more, can you please tell me what architectural books I could red to gain more knowledge? I use Revit software which is very good and is very user friendly. Thank you

  • Dose of reality. People are paid what they "deserve". That means that, no matter the profession, you have to create something worth selling. Motivation, creativity, ability to negotiate and work with people are the most important factors. The reason actresses in Hollywood make less than men is that they are not in as much demand as primary characters, and they aren't aggressive enough in negotiations. Be a go-getter, more talented than the other guy or gal and be tough. That's how you make more money. In my opinion we need a decent minimum wage for people who are not trained , motivated, or intelligent. That's the reality of the situation.

  • I do want to be a part of your firm. Really look forward to work with you and learn better.
    I will continue asking for internship offer.
    ThankYou so much.

  • Thank you for giving me courage by making this video. It's very informative! I am planning to be an architect. Hoping that I would become a person like you too.

  • I still remember when I was at the first year of the university, one of my professors told us that if we wanted to make a lot of money, don't be an architect lol

  • 6:23 i see so you should know something that no one else does and is helpfull,i hope me knowing 3 different languaged (soon to be 4 if i stick to it) is helpfull OwO

  • I have a burning question.. I really want to travel. Like that is my ultimate life goal. I love architecture and all it has to offer but is this profession enough to enable me to travel? Can I live that lifestyle being an architect? As someone pointed out in the comments, the movies convinced me architects were filthy rich and posh. I just want to be able to travel full-time

  • Hello I have no idea who you are but I’m a ten year old girl and I hope to be an architect. Please make a video of tips for young architects like me. Every time I look it up on YouTube it gives me stupid movie trailers. Please help me explain to the younger community. This is something I am passionate about and I make models all the time. Please like.

  • I love your vids. I am currently 14 and want to become architect one day (inshallah) and I really get the motivation from you.

  • I studying Environmental Science and Management in Australia. That and architecture were equally as interesting to me, and so I went with Enviro. But its missing the creativity that architecture has! You make architecture feel like more of an aspiration to me with every video of yours I watch! And you hit the nail on the head when you talk about what success is to you.
    Thanks for oyu great videos!

  • I really like building houses and buildings, especially the exterior and interior. Minecraft is the first game that taught me to be creative but I’m now learning how to draw but I’m still struggling. I draw but I’m not that good, do you think I can still work hard and pursue my dream as an architect?

  • Another quick topic to mention should be location. My first job at an architecture office happened to be in NYC and I started at 50,000/ year. You can average about 3,000 – 5,000/ year raises after that in the city. I was in a position that moved very quickly and by my 3rd year there I was making 80,000 based on my design skills/ qualifications. As Eric mentioned, you can move very quickly if you become an expert in a specific field or branch. Long story short, I soon moved out of the city and im working in an Architecture firm in upstate New York. After my 3 years of experience in the city, my starting salary is 55,000/ year, but im much happier. Location in an urban or rural setting has a very big impact on salary, but one of the biggest takeaways you learn…its not all about the money.

  • I admire and appreciate the real passion. This channel is really valuable. Keep it up. You have vievers in Poland. —- Pozdrowienia z Polski

  • i really love working with the interior space but doesn't want to loose the ability to alter the exterior space when needed…. March or MIarch ?

  • This is one of the reasons that I’m getting into the Architecture profession. Not the money, the fulfillment that I hope to find. Going back for masters in August! Thanks for this video.

  • Personally Thanks a lot… I consider it a great advice… I'm not architect… I am software designer. Sometimes used to watch your videos in free time. The way you compiled it is also amazing.
    Once again thanks 🙂

  • I totally agree with you, In my position, I get some experience and the Jump it to my own projects and contractor, that was a few years in my country, Right now I have to start again, in US, with another lenguage, another Metrical Units, another people, You figure it out? So definetly I am in a path to get licensed, and grow my professional career, thanks for supporting, and keep moving. You are an example for us. Young Architects, thanks again.

  • Debt – REAL debt. I am Divorced father of 2. Aside from paired down expenses, Alimony and child support, the REAL debt, is 60% of what I make on a good year. The 60% is a fixed amount as per State Supreme Court for another year. This, however, being a slow year the REAL debt is closer to 80% due to a lack of opportunity. My work is stellar and I enjoy having a great reputation within my area for the last 25 years. As this has been and is a slow year, I have a lot of time, however have reached a point where I feel I need to do something different to generate work flow. Therefore how would you drum up new opportunity (without having to go back to work for a firm)? ? Do you ever have slow periods where you need to generate cash flow to stay alive?

  • How exactly does salary work in the US? Whenever I watch videos and people mention salary they always seem to talk about the yearly gross income instead of the monthly income. So I assume that US employees are paid on a monthly basis, but is there a specific reason as to why you people use the yearly amount as the metric number for salary?

  • Any advice for someone learning architecture in a non-school way? Always had a passion for it and was accepted into PRATT over in NY but tuition was too high. Instead got degrees in math, CS and psychology. Been teaching myself revit and other software and have a pretty decent understanding. Would like to do some freelance work hopefully when I get better. Any advice or tips?

  • 12 dollar an hour is really good for intern. In Indonesia, intern student for architecture almost got no fee hahaha.
    Our monthly salary in Indonesia for fresh-grad is about 300USD, it's likely 12-15 dollar per day hahaha

  • I'm just starting out with my degree and thinking about summer plans. I'm planning to work this summer in retail, but am also interested in getting a small internship, I've got an offer for a company that installs large electrical unit and am planning to send in my resume to a treehouse-making firm. I'm interested in learning about different parts of the construction process, do you think it'd be a good idea for me to try to have one of these internships? I'm also thinking of taking some online courses at a local community college.

  • Even when I hang around 40-50 year old architects, all they talk about how much student loan debt they still owe, how sleep-deprived they are, how they could never afford to live like their clients, or how much they or their principals overpromised on a project and consequently made everyone in the studio work extra-long hours essentially for free. Then to spice up the conversation they go on and on about all the AutoCAD/Revit/Rhino/SketchUp shortcuts they know. Then rationalize their financial suffering because of their self-proclaimed civic duty and artistic dedication to the craft that the average person doesn't actually care about. The more I keep working, more I see myself going down that same path, which feels depressing and makes me regret/reevaluate my career decisions. I'm 30 now and don't want the next 20 years to fly by only to end up having those same conversations.

    No matter how noble we try make ourselves appear, the truth is society values the car insurance agent down the street with a community college degree far greater than all the derelict Ivy League architecture grads out there with decades of experience. Are there any architects out here who made it through successfully and actually live like the clients they serve?

  • Not typically a video I would watch, but I ended up learning more about life than I have from most content on YouTube. Thank you so much!

  • 24k a year ??? LOOLL WTF what existence universe is that?
    I've won 0 € aahahahahahah 😀 I've worked for free 2 years, and some colleagues after started to win 500 Euros month….a joke! that's why I'm a photographer now and even so money is almost nonexistent but at least there are no schedules and bosses :d

  • $24,000 a year is too low when having graduated from architecture school. That's higher education than a medical doctor or a master of science in engineering, and the salary should be accordingly more in the general society we live in. The education can be up to ten years of time. Architecture is at the extreme end in the misunderstood things scale in this society.

  • I really like the content and the speech. And I think it would be really great if you make videos more active. I mean you are just sitting in front of the camera but you are saying incredible things. This video needs more energy and space…

  • Sad that Architect/designer salary hasn't changed in the 25 years I have been involved in the industry. Salary for designers hasn't changed in the past 15 years since I switch full time careers. Someone in the chain from design to build is making more money, architects/designers were too hungry to fight for more pay and got beat down by the builders/developers like all the other trades.

  • You are wonderful Saint. So precise, honest, blunt, and kind. Please keep spreading humanity.
    God bless you..
    Ansar Ali Khan.

  • is architecture very hard??what kind of math will be discussed?? i kinda hate mathematics actually but with my love of designing i need to pursue archi…any advices about the subjects?????love ur vids btw

  • This is a great video series, and I’m pleased that so many students and young architects are finding it! I’m a retired architect, after more than 45 years in the profession, and I was one of those kids playing with blocks and wanting to build. I want to respond to the FAQ here:

    – Architecture is not math intensive, we use basic algebra day to day. I never used calculus or complex math. You need to pass whatever is in your college program but math is little of what we do.
    -You can learn to draw as you learn to think like an architect, you don’t need to be a natural artist in high school.
    -Most of Architecture, I think, is organizing and problem solving in order to make a physical product. To me, it was always like finding that spot on a graph that solves several linear equations at once: client needs, functional planning, artistic balance, code requirements, structural feasibility, and construction practicality.
    -My lasting pleasure was in building useful things on a large scale. I got interested in healthcare facilities in school and chose to specialize in that, because I found those were the most complex problems to solve, including healthcare technology and lots of specific codes. I became an expert in the field, writing and giving talks and working as a senior leader in some very large firms doing international work. Unlike most architects, I never designed a house, but I did everything from a small dental office building to 1 million sf teaching hospitals.
    -Getting licensed is critical, it is what allows you to use the legal title Architect and to literally sign and seal documents in which you take responsibility for a building. Without it, you are just a talented cadd person or someone who draws buildings.
    – I envy Erich’s work at home life, but big buildings require big teams and a lot of managing and financial planning, along with the client contact and design. I got to travel a lot ( maybe too much) all over the world.
    The fun of Architecture is translating client needs into something real; if you want to earn bigger money you would do better as a developer or a landlord. Architecture is a paid service business, even at the most successful and award winning level.

  • I’m 11 almost 12 and when I grow up I want to be ether a judge or a architect so far architecture has more thoughts than judge cuz being a judge isn’t safe cuz if u give someone a life sentence u don’t think there homies will be mad so be expecting a new architect in a few years

  • I want to be an architect when I grow up. I’m only 12 and all I want as an architect is enough to sustain a family and a home that can fit my family I want to have. When I search up on google the salary of an architect it says about 66,000 – 77,000 is that enough? It doesn’t seem like much, and I would like to gain at least 150k yearly. Anyone know any jobs that would pay this much?

  • Too many people on here bitching about not being a lot of money in architecture. If you suck and are lazy at it then don't blame others for your failures. I'm sick of the stigma attached to architects, if you don't strive to be the best in any field of work, you will struggle.

  • Architects make pennies on the dollar. If you wanna FEEL like you making a lot, make sure your expenses are dirt low. Saved ya’ll a few minutes.

  • I am thinking about what I want in a future, like architecture student and now i think you're right because all of us have plans but is ¿the money the first motivation for a nice life? thanks man for this amazing videos.

  • Just checked for online schooling … Avg Tuition: $26,929 !!! That's a months work of my contracting jobs. Man you gota bank to bank for that B.ARC wow. I'll just draw and save some labor if i have to collab with an architect and let them finish or help me lol.

  • i still dont know if architecture is want i want to do (1 am 25)

    2) working to make buildings look good

    is this an age people that find out they want money go into high earning trades and later feel bad about it?
    is this the age people go to architecture school because they like designing, and later they get insecure and things fall apart because they have less money.

    Tough questions to ask indeed!! :/

  • lmao the builder makes 2x's that amount and has lots more toys, power and knowledge of all materials, functions and well how to actually built stuff.
    seems like a starving artist profession to me.
    time to turn your degree into a contractor/builder who can also design

  • This is 100% great advice on budgeting and managing your financial life. As he notes, you have to like the analytical part of being an architect, the people making really big incomes are developers, there are no country clubs or yacht harbors full of rich architects. If you want the official, legal title “Architect “ registration is the first thing to do after school, no excuses.

  • What this video fails to address is the amount unpaid overtime you’ll work as an Architect.

    Those guys making $130k/yr work every second of their life.

    $77k isn’t enough for 50-60 hours/week

    long hours, low pay. . .better be an engineer instead

  • I totally agree with your philosophy, Eric. I've known a couple of guys who were VERY talented, had the rare natural ability to do extraordinary work, we talked about it extensively all the time… but after being in the workforce a few short years, they fell prey to yuppie pressure, began grinding out low-level crap that ANYone could do, purely to be able to buy more stuff for yuppie approval.

    Now they held their possessions up for approval, rather than their work. The result? They got the oh-so-important, shallow yuppie approval, but it crushed their soul. They weren't the same, they lost their passion for their work, and became just another ordinary automaton barely able to make all their monthly payments.

  • I do not only study architecture but I study structure engineering too, because I want to be both Architect and Structural Engineer.

  • Avid follower from South Africa…I am a Structural Engineer for a Global firm and get to work on amazing buildings, I work very closely with architects and I must say, I love your videos…The inner Architect within my Structural self awakens everytime I click. Also, I like your videos before I even watch😂! Thank You!

  • I wanted to be an architect, but instead I'm studying planning and once I'm done I'll do a part-time degree for architecture and then start a business doing planning based projects and architecture too.

  • Hi, i live in small town of Russia, my salary is 8000$/year, and it's so big for ours regions. I like my job but for example any driver(or ather jobs whithout experience) earn more then me(i learned 5 years and worked 15), it's so sad, sorry for my english

  • It's sad all of us ordinary people thought to work for money which someone else prints out of thin air. Money works for them.

  • As a female one and the expectancy would be you get pregnant after 7yrs trading. Not worth the bother which makes the activity far from enjoyable and very stressful.

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