Salaries for architects vary widely based on a number of factors. For instance, the region of employment, the size and reputability of the firm they work in, the number of years of working experience, and the level of education an architect has acquired. Bonus systems, and potential equity also skew the wages of architects severely, making the reported earnings data difficult to track.

Architecture Internship Salaries

In order to understand the progression of pay for architects it is important to learn the hierarchy of employees within a firm. Before gaining licensure, architects are required to complete paid internships. These internships are typically three years in length, allowing for applied practice of theories learned in architecture degree programs. Interns generally make between twenty-eight and forty thousand dollars annually. Given the recent economic crisis and the downturn in construction, these positions have incurred major cuts, but are beginning to rebound.

Architecture Salaries for Non-Management Positions

Newly licensed architects who have completed their internships are said to earn starting base pay around $42,000, and after they have acquired an additional six to eight years of experience, this figure is likely to be around $48,000. Around the eight to ten year mark, architects tend to start managing key projects within their firm and expect to make upwards of $55,000. The DesignIntelligence (DI) 2011 Compensation and Benefits Survey reports that the average salary among architects with ten years experience is $79,400 plus bonus potential. Data for this survey is taken from 700 of the nation's leading firms, resulting in figures higher than those reported in other surveys. Nonetheless, the DI report provides the ambitious with the most thorough data.

Architecture Salaries for Upper Management and Executives

Once an architect has acquired ample experience, they become eligible for management positions. Managers operate as team leads on projects and are paid in the neighborhood of $63,300 according to data from the American Institute of Architecture. Also according to this survey, Senior Managers, or Associates, generally report incomes around $72,000. Management personnel who hold equity in their firm are called Principles, and generally earn upwards of $100,000 annually. The DI survey reports much higher returns at this level, averaging at $214,000. Finally, according to the DI survey, the average pay for a CEO of an architectural firm is $318,700 with a mean base of $195,900. DI is quick to point out though, that these figures are unrealistic in regards to the returns upper management is likely receive when factoring in bonuses and the value of their equity.

The Bottom Line on Architect Salaries

Regardless of the survey you choose, it is clear that a career in architecture requires years of applied knowledge and practice, not to mention, dedication. Furthermore, as the DI survey data implies, the most ambitious and talented architects seem to have no ceiling for earning potential when promoted through the right firm.