Where Do Architects Earn the Most Money?

Architects can have relatively lucrative careers. Architects typically earn an annual salary of $80,750, which is a median hourly wage of $38.82, according to May 2019 data from 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 $80,750, which is a median wage of $38.82 per hour.
  • California, New York, and Texas employ the highest number of architects in the country.
  • The demand for architects should increase by 1% 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

Architectural, engineering and related services

$88,970

Residential building construction 

$85,820

Specialized design services

$84,260

Federal executive branch (OES designation) $98,110
Nonresidential building construction $95,760

Top Paying Industries

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

            Industry Annual Mean Wage
Insurance Carriers $131,410
Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services $124,030
Electric Power Generation  $111,560
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals  $106,160
Management of Companies and Enterprises $103,810

Top Paying States

The following states have the highest salaries for architects:

 

                State

 

Annual Mean Wage

 

New York 

 

$106,910

 

 District of Columbia

 

$105,380

 

Georgia

 

$104,470

 

 Massachusetts

 

$102,320

 

Minnesota

 

$99,870

Other states in the top tier with a mean annual wage of over $88,250 include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Maryland, Nebraska, and Texas. The second tier of highest-paying states–with a mean annual wage between $82,010 and $88,230–include Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, North and South Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

The lowest-paying states for architects–with a mean annual wage between $50,500 and $75,450–include Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Maine, and Arkansas.

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas

These are the top-paying metropolitan areas for architects:


         Metropolitan Area
 

Annual Mean Wage


Salinas, CA
 
$123,770

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA
 
$121,550

Lubbock, TX
$116,720

Modesto, CA
$111,820

Some of the top-paying nonmetropolitan areas for architects include northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan with an average salary of $96,950, central New Hampshire with $95,490, northwest Colorado with $91,600, western Wyoming with $86,920, and northwest Minnesota with $85,390 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 Median Pay

 

 Architects

 

$80,750

 

 Civil Engineers

 

$87,060

 

Construction Managers 

 

$95,260


Industrial Designers 

$68,890


Drafters

$56,830

Demand and Job Outlook

There are approximately 129,900 architects employed in the United States. The BLS projects 1,100 new architects will be needed by the year 2029, which represents an 1% job growth rate.

There are several factors affecting the demand for architects. Architects plan and design homes, schools, healthcare facilities, and other buildings. However, according to the BLS, "improved building information modeling (BIM) software and measuring technology are expected to increase architects’ productivity, thereby limiting employment growth for these workers," which is reflected in the lower then average expected growth rate.

The states that employ the most architects include:

  • California – 14,480
  • New York – 11,740
  • Texas – 9,380
  • Illinois – 5,760
  • Florida – 4,230

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 master's 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.