Coroflot Salary Results

Back in September I posted about Coroflot's 2006 Design Salary Survey, a survey that is now complete. Almost 250 respondents fell into the architecture category (not nearly as many as the industrial design field but much more than fashion), an amount that gives a good indication of salary relative to firm type but not enough for decent geographical indicators.

Click for larger view

The graph above compares the salaries in the various fields of the survey in terms of staff level, from entry to director. Architecture is highlighted with the red box; the others are (L-R) graphic design, industrial design, interaction/web design, interior design, and fashion design. Even at the small, illegible size above, a few things are clear.
:: At the entry level, salaries across the fields are pretty much the same, except for graphic design.
:: At the upper level, architects are very low, a little bit higher than the apparetnly poor graphic designers.
:: Salaries for directors (pink bar at top) is not much higher than senior designers (green bar below).
This says to me what architects have known for a long time: architects are underpaid. It also appears to indicate that the monetary reward of being partner in a firm is not commensurate with the responsibility, compared to the other fields. For architects the greatest growth is for senior designers, where three out of five of the other fields have that growth happen at the highest level.

Check Coroflot for more illuminating stats, including Rock-osity.


  1. speaking as an entry level architect: where is my 40 acres and a mule?

  2. Hi John,
    This looks not too dissimilar to the UK scene too. The weird thing is how non-architects' perception is that they get paid mega-£££. The reasons why architects are paid so badly are obviously not simple, but do you think one of them is that architects market themselves primarily to other architects, rather than to potential clients and the public in general?

  3. Norman - Perhaps you're onto something. In addition to marketing themselves to other architects they also look for recognition amongst their peers and seem to shun recognition by those not educated in architecture. Regardless, this probably isn't something limited to architecture but many parts of society.

  4. all the architects making the big bucks in the USA are those who either completely submit to the client [tilt-up concrete sprawl, etc.] or who exclusively operate on artistic license [gehry, libeskind, holl, koolhaas, etc.]. the most recent emerging genre are the design-develop/build firms who have a hand in the investment portion, design, and construction.
    once architects realize that our responsibilities lie elsewhere as well, architecture will be seen as a business on par with any other.

  5. It is a very disappointing picture. Especially when one considers that out of that group the only ones licensed to protect health and human safety issues are architects.

  6. Norman observation does seem to have some merit, but after reading the post I was wondering if part of why American architects were underpaid had to do with something a German friend of mine said . . .

    . . . that is, most Americans are so transient that the idea of hiring an architect (even for half million dollar homes) never crosses most people's minds. In Germany, you plan to stay where you are a good while, and getting an architect is almost a give he told me — FWIW.

    He's now practicing in America; Married an American friend of mine!

  7. Architecture is viewed as an art form and there are many starving artists. One difference is that it is expensive to attain and maintain an Architects license. Many Americans think larger firms produce more for their money. Architects get a bad reputation when large firms who have a good reputation put newbys on projects and problems occur due to the managerial inadequacies on projects. Another reason that

    Architects may not be held higher on the pay scale may be because of the simple fact that they have difficulty with typical business practices since they have little training in this area. With more business sense, Architects are paid more for their work. Lastly we all know how difficult it is for most people to appreciate the time spent on creating a true art form. We all know the more time devoted to a project the better the project. This is why there are so many starving artists. Also, one needs to consider the supply and demand of Architects.

    The pay scale goes up if there are fewer Architects readily and easily available. Some Architects use this theory as their umbrella creating their own market niches. This is also risky because of market shifts. For example if your focus is libary design, eventually many other firms who note an upsurge in this "specialty area" begin flooding the market and suddenly your "area of expertise" is not making your firm as much due to an overabundance of firms outbidding each other in the marketplace. It is interesting how the "specialty" areas suddenly change with firms that have difficulty in the transitional times or in generally poor economic times.

    Unfortunately, like with many other businesses, many times the firms that do the most self promotion make the most money and many times it has little to do with actual relationship of the quality of projects.

    The comment that the idea of hiring an architect never crosses most people's minds is concerning as it says to me that most people are not being educated enough about the importance of the "Architect" taking charge of Life, Health, Safety issues. This indicates to me that current state of Architectural promotion by its own industry has not been effective.

  8. I am currently studying Architectural Technology at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa and I am in the 2nd year of my studies. This entails studying for 6 months and working in an architectural practice for 6 months. I worked at a firm for only 2 days and left, because the employer did not want to give me a salary. He said that they do not pay for in-service training, but if I work well, he would give me something, which I assume is very little knowing this stingy man. My time is valuable, so all I have to say to him is: "Vai a farti fottere." I am currently looking for in-service training. . .


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