According to the 2005 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Compensation Report, average salaries at architecture firms have increased more than 10% between 2002 and 2005, approximately a 3.3% annual compound growth rate. These figures represent a notable increase in compensation considering that professional salaries in the U.S. economy grew by only 2.5% on average over the same period, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures.
Trends in compensation at architecture firms are indicative of the general health of the design and construction industry. Increased construction activity equates to more work for architecture firms, a need for more staff at architecture firms, and improved profitability, which can result in increased compensation.
“What is interesting about this data is that salaries for architecture positions have increased more than 10% during the same timeframe that there has been a recession in non-residential construction,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “During the recession of the early 1990s, compensation for architecture positions did not even keep pace with inflation. That is no longer the case, as evidenced by increased compensation for architecture positions totaling almost 50% between 1996 and 2005. This news is very encouraging for the architecture profession as a whole.”
Other key findings of the survey include:
• 67% of firms offer a salary increase upon completion of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).
• More than 40% of firms offer higher salaries for master’s degree holders.
• Compensation gains for computer assisted design (CAD) managers have averaged more than 25% over the three year period.
• Slower economy has caused a decline in firms offering sign-on bonuses.
The 2005 AIA Compensation Report is researched and compiled by the AIA’s economics and market research department. Average compensation figures are provided for registered architects, interns, and other graduates of architecture programs. Non-guaranteed compensation figures (bonuses, profit sharing, and other incentive compensation) are also reported.
The complete 2005 AIA Compensation Report – including an executive summary, detailed benefits information, position descriptions, and tables for various regions, states and metro areas – is available to AIA members for $50. The price for non-members is $225; the report can be ordered electronically from the AIA Web site.