Where Do Architects Earn the Most Money?

Architects can have relatively lucrative careers. Architects typically earn an annual salary of $79,380, which is a median hourly wage of $38.16, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

However, the region of the country where an architect works and their area of specialty has a significant impact on their earnings. Below is an outline of the highest-paying industries and locations for architects.

Key Takeaways

  • Architects plan and design buildings such as corporate offices, schools, and universities.
  • Architects typically earn an annual salary of $79,380, which is a median wage of $38.16 per hour.
  • California, New York, and Texas employ the highest number of architects in the country.
  • The demand for architects should increase by 8% between 2018 and 2028.

Understanding Where Architects Earn the Most Money

Architects plan and design buildings such as corporate offices, schools, and universities. Architects often provide preliminary estimates for the cost and the construction time for the project. Architects often prepare the drawings and draft up the documents, which can include scaled drawings using computer software or by hand. Architects also visit the worksites to ensure that the construction is following the architectural plans that were initially drafted.

Architects review with their clients their objectives and the budget for any building project. Many times, architects provide design services, including environmental impact studies, and the specific designs that are needed for the project. 

Architects develop construction plans, including the initial proposal. Plans show the building's appearance as well as the internal detail of the construction of the building, the drawings of the structural system, air conditioning, electrical systems, plumbing, and communications systems. 

Highest Level of Employment

The highest level of employment for architects, according to BLS, is in the following industries:

               Industry

Annual Mean Wage

Government

$92,940

Architectural, engineering, and related services

 $78,460

Construction

$78,110


Residential Building Construction 
 
$86,920

Top Paying Industries

According to the BLS, architects earn the highest median annual wage in the following industries:

            Industry Annual Mean Wage
Insurance Carriers $127, 000
Electric Power Generation  $109,570
Land Subdivision  $107,500
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals  $103,730

Top Paying States

The following states have the highest salaries for architects:

 

                State

 

Annual Mean Wage

 

New York 

 

$109,520

 

 Massachusetts

 

$103,920

 

 District of Columbia

 

$100,770

 

 Texas

 

$99,580

 

 Arizona

 

$95,220

The second tier of highest-paying states–with a mean annual wage between $80,000 and $86,000–include Delaware, New Hampshire, North and South Carolina, Ohio, Florida, and Virginia.

The lowest-paying states for architects–with a mean annual wage between $50,000 and $75,000–include Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Maine, and Michigan.

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas

These are the top-paying metropolitan areas for architects:


         Metropolitan Area
 

Annual Mean Wage


Salinas, CA
 
$121,440

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA
 
$111,870

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
 
$109,330

New York-Newark-Jersey City NY-NJ-PA
 
$108,290

Some of the top-paying non-metropolitan areas for architects include northwest Colorado with an average salary of $105,250, western Wyoming with $93,000, northern West Virginia with $89,000, and northwest Minnesota with $84,000 per year.

Job Comparison

Below is a comparison of the pay between architects and some of the jobs that are involved in the building, design, and construction industry.

 

         Architecture and Engineering Specialties

 

Annual Mean Wage

 

 Architects

 

$79,380

 

 Civil Engineers

 

$86,640

 

Construction Managers 

 

$93,370


Industrial Designers 

$66,000


Drafters

$55,000

Demand and Job Outlook

There are approximately 134,000 architects employed in the United States. The BLS projects 11,000 new architects will be needed by the year 2028, which represents an 8% job growth rate.

There are several factors fueling the demand for architects, which reflects the overall economic trend. Many counties and states are repairing and replacing deteriorating school buildings across the country. Also, more healthcare facilities will be needed to accommodate an aging population in need of medical treatment. Architects who can create sustainable or green designs, which help address climate change issues are also in demand.

The states that employ the most architects include:

  • California – 13,570
  • New York – 11,620
  • Texas – 8,560
  • Illinois – 5,560
  • Florida – 4,340

Education

Most architects have a bachelor’s degree in architecture, which typically takes five years to complete. Many architects also complete an internship before entering the workforce. Most importantly, they must pass the Architecture Registration Exam and be licensed. Upon receiving their undergraduate degree, some architects opt to pursue master's degrees. A Masters can take another one-to-five years, depending on the experience, education, and training of the student.

Special Considerations

Employment as an architect is heavily reliant on the construction and building industry. As a result, the strength of the U.S. economy is critical to finding a job since the construction industry ebbs and flows with economic growth. If the economy slows, it's likely the outlook for employment for architects will worsen.