How To Earn A Six-Figure Architecture Salary

Everybody wants their salary to be as high as possible and preferably in the six-figure range, although many people may not know how to get to this point. Architects can rank among these people and can be just as confused about how to achieve a six-figure salary.

There can be a variety of things that will affect your paycheck over time, with one of the most prominent being the firm that you’re working with. Naturally, you can expect a larger salary with national or international firms, with the opposite also ringing true for small, local companies.

Alongside this will be your experience; after all, almost nobody will be able to command a six-figure salary in the early years of their career. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll need to settle for a relatively low wage for your entire career.

Though there will be a few factors that affect pay that will be outside of your control, there are a few ways that you can achieve a six-figure architecture salary. While you shouldn’t be able to get to the $100,000 mark with just one, using a combination, and preferably all, of the below can help you do so.

It should be noted, however, that while some will give you a noticeable increase in your paycheck quite quickly, it may take a considerable amount of time. By focusing on each of the below, you should see your architecture salary skyrocket over the following years.


Develop Your Skills

While this may seem as though it’s an obvious step, it’s something that many people seem to overlook. Though more experience will see you gain a higher paycheck over time, this only works to a certain extent.

This is especially true if you have a limited number of skills that can be done by somebody who has less experience and asks for a smaller salary. As such, there can often be a direct correlation between how skilled you are and how high of a wage you’ll be able to command.

Naturally, the more skilled a person is, the more they can ask for, although this doesn’t mean that you should look for any skills in particular. On the contrary, there are a variety of ‘hard’ skills that you should develop and master.

Some will be obvious, such as design, coding, and software, although there are several ‘soft’ skills you should look at. Notable examples of these include:

  • Leadership;
  • Communication;
  • Creativity;
  • A willingness to learn, and;

Your certifications and qualifications will go a long way in highlighting many of your hard skills, although they mightn’t do so with your soft skills. Instead, many of these may have to be shown off when you’re already in the company.

Many can take quite a considerable amount of time to perfect, so the sooner you start learning and mastering them, the better. By doing so, you’ll be able to highlight them over time better. Alongside this is that the sooner you perfect them, the quicker they’ll have an impact on your salary.


Switch Positions

While nobody wants to switch jobs, it can have quite an impact on your salary when you do so. According to many reports, the average increase in pay when somebody moves to a new company ranges between 10% and 20%.

Naturally, much of this can depend on your negotiation skills and which firm you’re looking to join. Alongside this can be a variety of non-financial benefits that the company may offer. However, it should be noted that you shouldn’t switch jobs too regularly, as this may result in many potential employers seeing you as a risk.

Instead, you should do so strategically and make calculated decisions during the process. In many cases, it can also be worth speaking to your current employer about receiving a raise. This can be especially beneficial if you’ve received a job offer from another firm with a notable increase in salary.

By bringing this up with your current employer, then you may be able to negotiate a much larger raise than you would elsewhere. This can be highly recommended, as it could result in a much larger salary without the hassle of moving to another firm.

In many cases, you’ll need to look toward larger cities when doing so, as they’ll often have many more architecture firms and more openings. As a result, you’ll have a greater chance of receiving offers with a much better salary than you would in smaller areas.


Take On Extra Responsibility

Many people will want to do as little work as possible while getting paid as much as possible. However, this is very rarely the case, as supervisors and managers often see which employees put in the most effort and use this as their rationale for raises and promotions.

While your skills and expertise will inevitably play a role in whether or not you receive either of these, how much time and effort you put into your job will also do so. As such, going above and beyond will have quite a large impact on your salary long-term. This means that you should aim to take on as much responsibility as you can handle.

Doing so will help you in a variety of ways. The first is that it will help you stand out among your colleagues, with this having several benefits, especially when it comes to performance reviews, among others.

Secondly, the extra responsibility can often make you increasingly more essential to the company. It should be noted, however, that this is primarily the case if you’re performing these extra responsibilities to a high standard alongside your core duties.

As you become more vital to the company and its success, you’ll be able to command a higher salary, with this getting closer and closer to the six-figure mark. After a certain amount of time, you should see your wage surpass this mark.



While many people may put this in the same category as focusing on your skills, specializing can be much different than up-skilling. This is because the majority of people will be able to learn the same skills, which could eventually make them somewhat obsolete. As a result, you may not be able to stand out from colleagues or competitors on skills alone.

Specializing in a particular aspect of architecture, however, can play a pivotal role in how large of a salary you’ll be able to command. Doing so ensures that there will be much fewer people who can compete with you in a particular niche, while also making sure that you can turn your hand to the overall industry.

As such, you should look for an area within architecture that you prefer more than others and aim to master it as much as possible. While there may be some specialties that are more profitable than others, you should still be able to command a high wage purely for being one of the few people in the company who has done so.

It’s worth noting that this is best done as early as possible. Doing so not only ensures that you specialize quickly, but will have a much more significant long-term impact on how much money you earn. As such, you should see yourself gaining a six-figure architecture salary faster than you would have otherwise.


Have Multiple Streams Of Income

This is something that many people may not have thought of, or may not have even spent much time considering. However, it’s quite a notable option for those of us who want to crack the $100,000 mark as early as possible.

Naturally, freelance architecture work will be the first thing that you should consider and will be one of the largest drivers of your income. However, you could also look at the other skills you attained during your college years, such as designing, among others.

These are areas where you may be able to pick up a significant amount of money in your free time. Much of this will be related to how much time and effort you put into freelance work, although it could prove to be substantial.

Should you be successful at freelancing, then you may be able to shift more toward this than your initial full-time position. By doing so, you may be able to make quite a name for yourself and establish a business. If this occurs, then you could see yourself achieving a six-figure architecture salary much quicker than you may have thought.

Get As Much Feedback As Possible

Many firms will conduct annual performance reviews, regardless of the industry that they operate in. However, there are a surprising amount which may not, which can often be a negative quality, both for the company itself and you.

To help improve your salary, it will be necessary to improve your overall performance. As a result, it’s recommended that you engage with these reviews as often as possible. This should help you in a variety of ways, with the first being that it can highlight to management how much you want to improve with the firm.

As such, it can help illustrate how much of an asset you want to be with the firm. This will also help to show a certain amount of sincerity and willingness to improve on your part. These are qualities that shouldn’t go unnoticed, especially in subsequent reviews.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to determine which areas you most need to improve on, which is the primary driver of these reviews in the first place. By doing so, you’ll be able to begin improving in these areas.

While this may not seem as though it will have an immediate impact on your salary, it can have much more of a long-term role. This is especially true when it comes to subsequent performance reviews. During these follow-ups, you should be able to illustrate where you’ve improved, and by how much.

As a result, you should be able to ask for, and hopefully receive, a higher paycheck. Though these rises may be smaller than you may want, any increase can be welcome and is another step toward the $100,000 mark.

This can also be tied with focusing on specific skills, which could mean that you’ll be able to receive a much larger raise than you may be anticipating. However, much of this can only be done by knowing what management is looking for and where they place a significant amount of emphasis.

If you take on extra responsibilities during your time with the firm and perform these to a high standard, this should be pointed out in the performance review. Doing so should help improve your chances of receiving a raise and highlight how important you are to the company.

As such, engaging with management in performance reviews is highly recommended. If you don’t receive these reviews as much as you may want, then you may be able to change this by bringing it up with supervisors and other decision-makers.

While each of the above should help you reach a six-figure architecture salary, there are a few things that may be outside of your control. Market conditions will be one of the primary drivers of this, which is something that’s seen in virtually every industry.

You may be able to mitigate much of this, however, by living in a large city that has a high demand for architects. While market conditions will still have a certain role in your wage, it shouldn’t be as notable than it would be in small or mid-size regions.

How experienced you are in the industry will naturally also play a role, with less experienced architects being paid much less than their more mature counterparts. Over time, you’ll see your salary increase significantly, although this will require a significant amount of patience.

By focusing on each of the above, you should see quite a notable impact on your overall salary. Though it may take some time for you to reach the six-figure mark, you’ll see your paycheck grow toward this. While some of this may be slow, there should also be a few jumps along the way, especially as you reach certain benchmarks.

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