Are Architects Poor?

Architecture is rough. It’s not a profession for everyone or more accurately, everyone who thinks they should be an Architect. Architecture can be more of a lifestyle than just a job or a profession. Unfortunately, in many situations, the cards often aren’t stacked in the Architects favour.

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.

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. Looking for dual occupancy? Look no further! MJS Construction Group has you covered. 

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.

Several factors are 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.


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.

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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. Looking for dual occupancy? Look no further! Home Builders has you covered. 

Reasons why you SHOULD NOT become an Architect.

The glass is always half empty.

This is how architecture is taught. There is always more you could do, things you could try, or ways it could be better. Your project will never be done.

Many people learn early on that they pour their heart and soul into a project, and they have a really hard time with the criticism.

One of the keys to getting past this is learning to disassociate from “the work”. It helps to think that the work has its own life. The work is what’s being criticized, not you as a person. It sounds silly, but a lot of architecture students never make it past the first year because of this.

You’re overly excited about telling people you’re an Architect.

Thanks to Ayn Rand, many people (outside of the profession) naturally have a love for the image of an Architect.

Sure, saying you’re an Architect can be cool in certain situations every once and while. BUT if this is overly important to you, then you maybe shouldn’t be an architect.

The inglorious moments of working long and hard, being challenged by contractors, plans examiners, and difficult clients, will far outnumber the moments when you look cool for being an Architect.

People who are successful in this profession care more about doing the work, then being recognized for doing it.

Becoming an Architect should only be pursued if you are truly passionate about the work, and not because you want to look cool at a party. You will get to go to more parties if you don’t become an Architect.

The money sucks

Architecture compares terribly in a cost-benefit analysis with other professions. After college, entry-level salaries have always been very meagre, and long hours are required.

Many architects don’t start seeing decent money until after they become somewhat experienced, licensed, and accomplished. This generally takes 5-10 years out of college.

I have watched people in other professions work a lot less, with less education, and still make double an Architect’s salary. Being an Architect is just a different lifestyle.

Being a poor Architect is also very much a mindset. Not every Architect is destined to be broke. There are many ways out of it. Figuring out how not to be a poor Architect, maybe your greatest design challenge. The place to start is by studying business, entrepreneurship and learning how to sell architectural services. Check out our range of dual occupancy builder for your dream house.

Most architects don’t design

The harsh reality of becoming an architect is that you spend many years in college being your own Starchitect (Star Architect) in your imaginary academic bubble. Student’s design all types of buildings, make all types of executive decisions, and never really face the harsh realities of business, codes, constructability, and the public.

After college, Graduates carry out the executive decisions of others and work on the production side of the firm, rather than the decision-making side. Most architecture graduates spend their entire careers simply implementing the design decisions of others.

The positive side of this is that a lot of great learning takes place in executing other designs. By hacking your way through each annoying detail, and being in the trenches, you are becoming better prepared for being the one to make executive decisions in your future.

You stink at math

Architects are constantly doing mental math calculations without a calculator. For instance:

What is 5’-9” + 6’-4” + the width of (3) 2 x 8’s?

If you already struggle with math and calculations, then you will be greeted with a never-ending supply of calculus, physics, statics, and general structures. After you finish those classes, you will then go on to study how to calculate beams, floors, and columns in wood, steel, and concrete.

Architects do quick math all day long. If you’re not comfortable with math, the architecture may not be for you.

Oh and its 12′ -5 ½” btw.

Hustling is rewarded more than talent.

Showing up is frequently 75% of the battle.

People who are half as talented as you will typically work three times as hard to raise the standard. They will be rewarded, get their buildings built, and frequently outperform you.

Architecture is one of the most competitive professions. It starts the second you apply to design school, and it never stops.

Many people have tons of creative energy deep inside of them that can become unlocked in a competitive environment. Embracing the competition is how many people surprise themselves with what they may be capable of as a designer.

Don’t even think about calling yourself an Architect until you fulfil all the licensing requirements.

Does anyone want unqualified people building our structures?

This is why the licensing process exists. The licensing process is long and extensive and highly regulated. It focuses on understanding and protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

Getting a fancy, expensive architecture degree does not allow you to call yourself an Architect. Moreover, it does not allow you to solicit architectural services to clients.

It is illegal in the United States to call yourself an Architect until you have met all the requirements and passed the Architect Registration Exam. After college can call yourself a: Designer, Architectural (fill in the blank), anything flies, as long as it is not “Architect”. Architectural staff may practice architecture under the supervision of a licensed Architect, who will be the Architect of record.

If you solicit design services that fall into the realm of architecture, or if you identify yourself an Architect, you could potentially be punished by your state’s board. Some state boards are more aggressive than others, and I highly recommend looking up what the limits of providing design services as an unlicensed Architect are in your state.

There is always a lot of controversy around this topic. After completing the exhaustive process of becoming a licensed architect, my opinion has changed. It is very clear how and why these rules exist. Architects carry a tremendous responsibility for protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public. Identifying yourself as an Architect should be protected similarly to calling yourself a Doctor, Lawyer or a Police Officer. At MJS Construction Group, we offer a wide range of home builders Melbourne.

You Will Spend More Time Thinking Like A Lawyer Than An Architect.

A stamped set of plans of specifications are considered legal documents instructing a Contractor the work to be done. A sloppy set of drawings with errors can become an Architects worst self-inflicted nightmare during construction.

I have worked with contractors who are highly skilled at finding small errors (or opportunities to them) in the Architects drawings and turning those into very expensive change orders for the owner.

The drawings and specs will never be perfect. There is also very little room for error. When producing construction drawings (giving directions to a contractor), you will spend a lot of time looking at your drawings and specs trying to avoid your client from being screwed by the contractor.

Very frequently, projects go wrong. Things will mess up. If things didn’t go, sour no one would ever learn anything. Learning how to avoid these problems and effectively deal with them is learned by living through troubled projects. Good Architects become obsessive, systematic, and methodical with how they craft a set of construction drawings. Planning for a new look for your house? Look no further!  Home Builders  is here to help in your dual occupancy builder Melbourne.

Your Good Deeds Will Frequently Be Punished.

At times the people you are trying to help will fight you because they don’t care about your project. Your clients will decide not to pay you. Others will take credit for your great ideas. You will bend over backwards for people who do not appreciate it. Contractors will rip off your clients and point the finger at you. You will work very hard on projects, and your hard work will go unnoticed. You could work on a project for years that suddenly got shelved, and in the end, never gets built.

This is normal, and it happens to everyone. The key is not to take it personally. You will do hundreds of projects in your lifetime. You cannot always be the hero. After enough disasters, you start to become numb to them and learn to manage tense moments more effectively.

Luckily the headache projects get quickly replaced with new projects and looking back, all of the frustrations are usually forgotten in time.

The Debbie Downers

A lot of the people in architecture have not had it easy, and they are quick to remind you of their long hard journey. Many may try to dampen your dreams of being an Architect.

It’s easy to get sucked into narcissism, but try your best not to fall down this slippery slope. Adding more negativity around the subject doesn’t help anyone or anything.

Three Alternative Ways for Architects to Earn

Architect as Developer

Instead of working for a developer, who uses your skills to build or transform buildings in order to sell them with high profit, why wouldn’t you try using your skills for your benefit and become your developer?

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Architects have a lot of the skills necessary to earn good money as a real estate developer. They often don’t realize it, or they think it’s not for them – it is only reserved for rich and large investors.

However, they know their cities and where to spot interesting gap sites.

They can create designs and the vision for a project, and they know how to get planning permissions and to manage the building process.

Architects very often generate a great deal of value when working for clients, for example when transforming a piece of land into a multi-unit apartment building which in turn will start generating a considerable stream of monthly renting revenue.

Instead of charging a fee per hour or a project-based fee, architects who understand the value they create and who try to get a compensation proportional to the value for the developer (e.g. by taking a part of the equity of the project as compensation for their services) can be much better off in the long run.

Productizing Your Services

Most architects are making money in a service business. They sell their skills, time and expertise in exchange for money.

There is a typical problem with service businesses, which I’m sure most of you have already experienced.

The type of activities and projects in a service business is often difficult to structure, streamline and unify.

Exactly because it is a service business, you have to serve your client. And a client who pays you for your time, obviously wants you to do what they want you to do. Whether that fits in your typical kind of project or not, whether you agree with their taste of colours or not, whether their deadlines fit your planning or not, none of that matters to the client.

Each client also has their own very specific wishes, desires, exceptions, payment terms, contract negotiation habits, communication channels, issue tracking system, and material preferences.

The more different kinds of clients, contracts, exceptions and projects, the more stuff, things and overhead you have to deal with. All of this is time that nobody is going to pay you for.

In the end, maybe only 50% of your time is billable, the other 50% is spent on overhead, calls, RFI’s, clients, contract negotiations, exceptions, misunderstandings and hair-pulling.

In a classical service business model, you feel like reinventing the wheel with every new client or project. Discussions, contracts, negotiations and scope definitions (in order to meet all the individual needs and desires of every single client) will never stop.

Turning Ideas Into Products

While “productized services” are a hybrid between a classical service business and a product, this third topic is about the real product which you create once, and then you market and sell it as many times as possible with little to no extra cost. Think McDonald’s, IKEA, Coca Cola or Autodesk. Once your product exists, it is known to the public and generally is considered to be “good”, then you can sell millions of copies of it and print money.

Warning: this is a tough path, which requires lots of time, patience, night and weekend work, and a willingness to get there. Distractions are everywhere, so you have to put systems in place to stay on track. Try to check email and messages as sparingly. Disable popups and use your calendar as a tool. 

Create detailed to-do lists to stay on course and get the sense of accomplishment when you cross something off. Focus on the most urgent and important tasks first, then work down the list. Planning for a new look for your house? Look no further!  MJS Construction Group  is here to help in your dual occupancy builder Melbourne.

Every self-help guru in the world will tell you a key element to success is setting goals. It is impossible to know where to aim if you don’t know what you are shooting at.

Write down your goals, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, start small.

Open the notes app on your phone and write down one thing you would like to accomplish in the next 12 months. Keep adding to the list and making the goals more and more ambitious. 

Work backwards from a big goal to break it up into small tasks that can be done in a day.

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