flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
catfish1 - bottom
Currently Reading

Buoyed by construction activity, architect compensation continues to see healthy gains

Architects

Buoyed by construction activity, architect compensation continues to see healthy gains

The latest AIA report breaks down its survey data by 44 positions and 28 metros.


By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | September 11, 2019
2019 AIA Compensation Report, Buoyed by construction activity, architect compensation continues to see healthy gains

Compensation for architects increased, in average, about 12% nationally from early 2017 to early 2019. Charts: AIA Compensation Report

   

The burst in construction spending over the past several years has been a boon to architectural firms, where as an industry payroll employment has grown by an average of 7,500 positions per year over the past six years. About 4,500 of that annual increase in staffing have been for architectural positions.

Demand for architects is reflected in the increased compensation that firms have been bestowing on hires and employees for recruitment and retention. In its latest Compensation Report, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) finds that average compensation across all architectural staff positions averaged in excess of $92,000 at the beginning of 2019, up more than 6% per year from early 2017 levels.

That increase, though, comes with a stinger: the last times architect salaries reached an increase of 6% per year—1999 and 2008—were either just prior to, or as the economy and the construction sector were entering, national economic downturns.

That being said, average architectural compensation has seen substantial growth beyond mere inflation over the past two decades. In 2019 dollars, average architecture compensation in 1990 was just over $70,000. The 12% increase over the past two years was twice the pace of growth in compensation for all workers in the U.S. economy, and 2.5 times the pace of all professional and related state, according to the Department of Labor’s Employment Cost Index.

 

Compensation gains for architectural staff have exceeded those for other workers.

 

The AIA Compensation Report is based on a national survey conducted by AIA and Readex Research earlier this year. Responses from 640 firms with 959 locations are broken down by 28 states, 28 metro areas, and 16 cities. The survey provides in-depth compensation information on 44 positions.

The survey finds wide ranges of compensation by metro and position. For example, the average base pay plus compensation for recent non-licensed graduates was $55,790 nationally. San Jose paid the highest ($65,900) and Pittsburgh the lowest ($45,800). However, the grads hired in San Jose were paying 38.5% of their compensation in rent, whereas in Indianapolis, rent consumed only 16.7% of their paychecks.

 

Architecture salary trends

Average architect salary increases during the last two years continued to be highest across senior- and executive-level staff. And salaries varied widely by company size. For example, the national average for the CEO/president position was $246,130. For firms with fewer than 10 employees, it was $170,436; for firms with 250 or more employees, $435,930.

The same pattern emerges for the Director of Design position: a $193,460 national average, $132,650 for the smallest firms, $235,200 for the largest. For a senior architectural staffer, the national average was $112,960, for smallest firms $82,170, and for the largest firms $128,660.

 

Architectural firms have been improving their employee benefits packages. 

 

Many positions, especially more senior architectural staff, continued to see an increase in the share of their salaries that is non-guaranteed (e.g., overtime, commissions, bonuses, incentive pay, profit sharing, retirement benefits paid, and other cash compensation) versus guaranteed (i.e., base pay). Managing principals now have the largest share of their salary as non-guaranteed pay compared with the other architecture/design positions, with the largest percentage point increase from 2017 in the share of non-guaranteed pay from 28% in 2017 to 42% in 2019.

 

Related content: Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019

 

In general, firms are improving their benefits packages. Ninety-five percent of firms offer medical coverage to their employees, and 91% offer defined contribution retirement savings plans. Seventy percent offer paid time off for exams and other professional development. But only 41% offer paid parental leave.

Many firms report that in 2018 they encouraged diversity in hiring and actively engaged in steps to enrich their firms’ culture and retain employees throughout different life stages. For example, 36% conducted a salary equity assessment by gender and/or race, and 80% indicated that they have specifically hired, promoted, and/or mentored employees with diverse backgrounds.

Related Stories

MFPRO+ News | May 21, 2024

Massachusetts governor launches advocacy group to push for more housing

Massachusetts’ Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll have taken the unusual step of setting up a nonprofit to advocate for pro-housing efforts at the local level. One Commonwealth Inc., will work to provide political and financial support for local housing initiatives, a key pillar of the governor’s agenda.

Building Tech | May 21, 2024

In a world first, load-bearing concrete walls built with a 3D printer

A Germany-based construction engineering company says it has constructed the world’s first load-bearing concrete walls built with a 3D printer. Züblin built a new warehouse from a single 3D print for Strabag Baumaschinentechnik International in Stuttgart, Germany using a Putzmeister 3D printer. 

MFPRO+ News | May 21, 2024

Baker Barrios Architects announces new leadership roles for multifamily, healthcare design

Baker Barrios Architects announced two new additions to its leadership: Chris Powers, RA, AIA, NCARB, EDAC, as Associate Principal and Director (Healthcare); and Mark Kluemper, AIA, NCARB, as Associate Principal and Technical Director (Multifamily).

MFPRO+ News | May 20, 2024

Florida condo market roiled by structural safety standards law

A Florida law enacted after the Surfside condo tower collapse is causing turmoil in the condominium market. The law, which requires buildings to meet certain structural safety standards, is forcing condo associations to assess hefty fees to make repairs on older properties. In some cases, the cost per unit runs into six figures.

Office Buildings | May 20, 2024

10 spaces that are no longer optional to create a great workplace

Amenities are no longer optional. The new role of the office is not only a place to get work done, but to provide a mix of work experiences for employees.

Mass Timber | May 17, 2024

Charlotte's new multifamily mid-rise will feature exposed mass timber

Construction recently kicked off for Oxbow, a multifamily community in Charlotte’s The Mill District. The $97.8 million project, consisting of 389 rental units and 14,300 sf of commercial space, sits on 4.3 acres that formerly housed four commercial buildings. The street-level retail is designed for boutiques, coffee shops, and other neighborhood services.

Construction Costs | May 16, 2024

New download: BD+C's May 2024 Market Intelligence Report

Building Design+Construction's monthly Market Intelligence Report offers a snapshot of the health of the U.S. building construction industry, including the commercial, multifamily, institutional, and industrial building sectors. This report tracks the latest metrics related to construction spending, demand for design services, contractor backlogs, and material price trends.

K-12 Schools | May 15, 2024

A new Alabama high school supports hands-on, collaborative, and diverse learning

In Gulf Shores, a city on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, a new $137 million high school broke ground in late April and is expected to open in the fall of 2026. Designed by DLR Group and Goodwyn Mills Cawood, the 287,000-sf Gulf Shores High School will offer cutting-edge facilities and hands-on learning opportunities.

Adaptive Reuse | May 15, 2024

Modular adaptive reuse of parking structure grants future flexibility

The shift away from excessive parking requirements aligns with a broader movement, encouraging development of more sustainable and affordable housing.

Affordable Housing | May 14, 2024

Brooklyn's colorful new affordable housing project includes retail, public spaces

A new affordable housing development located in the fastest growing section of Brooklyn, N.Y., where over half the population lives below the poverty line, transformed a long vacant lot into a community asset. The Van Sinderen Plaza project consists of a newly constructed pair of seven-story buildings totaling 193,665 sf, including 130 affordable units.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category




MFPRO+ News

Florida condo market roiled by structural safety standards law

A Florida law enacted after the Surfside condo tower collapse is causing turmoil in the condominium market. The law, which requires buildings to meet certain structural safety standards, is forcing condo associations to assess hefty fees to make repairs on older properties. In some cases, the cost per unit runs into six figures.

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021