Studying Architecture Worth It?

Is Architecture Degree Really Useless? (Explained and Solved)

So your considering studying Architecture and have a few questions.

Before you do go down the path to become an Architect (or any profession) it’s best to do some research.

So is Architecture Degree really useless?

Architecture is not useless if you are passionate and excited about designing buildings and structures, whilst willing to work hard and receive low pay. 

To become an Architect you can expect to study for 3-4 years to obtain a degree and become licensed to practice as an Architect.

The 3-4 years of study will be pretty intense with a high study workload.

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Once you graduate finding a job can be a challenge with entry-level jobs available.

The level of competition drives down salaries.

Can expect a level entry wage around $40k to $50k per annum.

Is Architecture a Dying Profession? (Explained)

No architecture is not a dying profession. There will always be a need for Architects to design buildings and structures.

Demand for architects is closely tied to the health of the economy and construction industry.

According to BLS employment of architects is projected to grow 1 per cent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.

Improved building information modelling (BIM) software and measuring technology are expected to increase architects’ productivity, thereby limiting employment growth for these workers

With a high number of students graduating with degrees in architecture, strong competition for internships and jobs is expected.

The employment of architects is strongly tied to the activity of the construction industry.

Therefore, these workers may experience periods of unemployment when there is a slowdown in requests for new projects or when the overall level of construction falls.

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Why are Architects Paid so Poorly? (Explained & Solved)

Architects are paid poorly and wage low because of the oversupply of Architects and the low demand for them.

For instance, it’s not mandatory to use an architect to build a house. Most houses are built without Architect involvement, but for the few houses involving an architect, the competition between Architects is fierce with fees being pushed down. 

Another reason for the low wages is the industry has low barriers to entry.

Fresh graduates can start an architectural firm and seasoned partners can leave to start their own firms creating high supply and relatively lower demand.

When comparing the median wage of an Architect it is only slightly less than a Civil Engineer.

Both median wages for an architect and civil engineer are significantly higher than the median wage of a Construction worker. 

In comparison to a plumber, an architect attracts a higher median wage

Profession Median Wage
Architect $80,750 per year
Civil Engineer $87,060 per year
Construction Worker $36,000 per year
Plumber $55,160 per year

Source: United States Department of Labor

Remembering these are median wages, there will be differences in wages depending on the town or city you live in.

End of the day, the pay does not reflect the years of study, the design and detailing of buildings are extraordinarily complex and labour-intensive, especially when you consider the enormous liability involved.

Can Architects make Millions?

If you are wanting to be a millionaire, being an Architect is not the profession. Yes, there are millionaire Architects, however, there are very few Architects that have made millions of dollars from this profession.

You can get money in Architecture but it takes a long time, and you need to be an outlier: either working at a firm and having the connections to get promoted extremely quickly or by starting your own firm.

So how much do Architects earn?

Well, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median annual wage for Architects was $80,750 in May 2019.

The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.

The lowest 10 per cent earned less than $48,700, and the highest 10 per cent earned more than $137,620.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for Architects in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $93,970
Construction 80,040
Architectural, engineering, and related services 79,830

Most architects work full time and many work additional hours, especially when facing deadlines. Self-employed architects may have more flexible work hours.

Final Thoughts

Architecture is a worthy profession if you are a creative type, and curious about design and how buildings, and structures.

You can expect to work hard and long hours at college to become an architect.

Unfortunately, with low demand for architects and a steady supply of architects leaving college wages for architects are low, and will continue to remain low for the foreseeable future.

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