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Architects Report Sluggish Salaries

Friday, August 23, 2013

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U.S. architects say challenging business conditions continue to take a toll on their salaries.

Between 2001 and 2013, the average total compensation increases for architecture positions were only slightly more than one percent per year, according to the 2013 American Institute of Architects Compensation Survey.

U.S. Department of Labor

Compensation for staff architecture positions at U.S. firms edged up from $75,000 in 2011 to $76,700 in 2013, according to AIA's latest survey.

The survey suggests that average compensation for staff architecture positions at U.S. architecture firms edged up from $75,000 in 2011 to $76,700 in 2013, including base salary, overtime, bonuses, and incentive compensation.

By the Numbers

Average compensation for senior design/project management staff increased from $94,900 in 2011 to reach $99,400 in 2013.

Average compensation for architects/designers slightly increased to $73,000 in 2013 from $71,600 in 2011, according to the report.

Architect Compensation Survey

© American Institute of Architects

Staff interns, however, saw a dip in pay, earning $47,000 in 2013 from $47,300 in 2011, the report says.

The numbers are in sharp contrast to compensation gains earlier in the first decade of the new century. Average compensation for staff architecture positions at U.S. architecture firms rose from $48,900 in 1999 to $73,400 in 2008.

‘Modest’ Improvement in the Profession

Meanwhile, AIA reports that business conditions for firms are modestly improving.

Revenue at architecture firms increased almost 11 percent in 2012 from 2011, according to the report, citing U.S. Census Bureau data.

While the modest business uptick has not translated into more compensation, it has created more opportunities for architecture staff, which has led to an increase in voluntary staff turnover rates, the report says.

Architect Compensation Survey

© American Institute of Architects

Turnover rates reflect the number of positions replaced over total employment. The average turnover rate reached 5.6 in 2012 from 4.5 in 2010, the AIA reported.

Another sign of a stablizing business conditions is that benefits offered to employees have begun to modestly improve, the institute says.

“While declining between 2008 and 2011 as firm revenues eroded, they rebounded modestly by 2013 with benefits packages, averaging 18 percent of base salaries for professional staff,” according to the report.

Levels May ‘Overstate’

The survey notes that the one percent per year change in compensation may “overstate” the experience of the “typical architect,” since many less experienced positions were eliminated during the economic downturn.

“Average compensation depends on the mix, by experience levels, of positions reporting.

“Since many less experienced architecture positions were eliminated during the downturn, current average compensation may reflect a higher share of more experienced, and more highly compensated, positions.”

Over 1,000 firms participated in the latest survey, AIA said.

Report Costs

The complete 2013 AIA Compensation Survey report is available for purchase through the AIA Bookstore. The report is in PDF format and is offered for $209.50 for AIA members and $349 for non-members. Nine regional reports are available for $119.50 each for AIA members and $199 for non-members.

In addition, a Metro Area report, covering the following areas: Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Dallas, Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New York; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, DC, is available for $149.50 for AIA members and $249 for non-members.

A free sample chapter of the report is also available.

The survey was last published by the AIA in 2011.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Business conditions; Economy; Good Technical Practice; Industry surveys

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