Architecture is a field in which you'll definitely use both hemispheres of your brain. Not that you don't already, but you'll need to draw from a unique blend of creative skills from the right side and technical skills from the left. With these attributes, you can design hospitals, office buildings and any myriad of structures imaginable and necessary. And if you can simultaneously work and oversee projects with engineers and construction managers, the financial rewards are there. The top 10 percent of architects made over $119,410 annually, according to May 2011 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Average Salary and Benefits
The average salary for architects was $79,300 per year, according to the BLS. Your salary would likely fall in the $56,180 to $93,350 range, which is what the middle 50 percent of the nation earns. Your income will largely be dictated by experience, the size of your employer and the cost of living in your area. Only the lowest 10 percent make less than $44,030 per year, so you definitely won't starve to death as an architect. And except for the 24 percent who are self-employed, benefits usually include paid time off, medical insurance and retirement plans.
Salary by Region
The highest paid architects live in Alaska, where they earned $92,350 per year, according to BLS data. If the gelid Alaskan tundra and lengthy hibernal nights don't appeal to you, these professionals earned $92,200 and $91,880 per year, respectively, in the District of Columbia and California. They earned closer to average industry salaries in Colorado at $79,960 annually. And those in the more sparsely-populated state of Montana made only $53,090 per year.
Education and Training
Your road to becoming an architect won't be easy. The minimum requirements are a bachelor's degree in architecture. It can take an additional one to five years to earn a master's degree, but this is most advisable for those pursuing teaching or research careers in architecture. The bachelor's degree itself takes five years to complete. After that, you are required to complete a three-year internship with a registered architect from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards or NCARB. You must then pass a state license test covering such topics as site planning, computer design and construction documents.
Your career in architecture looks bright. The number of jobs are expected to increase by 24 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS. You'll find jobs plentiful in areas teeming with schools and universities that need refurbishing. The sunbelt will attract aging baby boomers as they retire, increasing demand for nursing and retirement home construction. And there will be an abundance of opportunities for those with sustainable design skills. These are skills focusing on green or environmental projects, such as energy conservation using solar power.
2016 Salary Information for Architects
Architects earned a median annual salary of $76,930 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, architects earned a 25th percentile salary of $59,000, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $99,790, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 128,800 people were employed in the U.S. as architects.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Architects
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011: Architects, Except Landscape and Naval
- StateUniversity.com: Architect Job Description, Career as an Architect, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
- Educational-Portal.com: Commercial Architect: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Architects
- Career Trend: Architects