AIA Compensation Report: Get Your Answers

How has your compensation changed as architecture firms emerge from the Great Recession? Have your benefits been reduced or increased? How do you think your colleagues have fared?

The AIA Compensation Report, compiled from our survey of U.S. architecture firms, offers compelling information on the state of the profession and includes compensation data for 39 architecture firm positions in 28 states, 28 metro areas, and 14 cities.

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Compensation as the Economy Recovers from the Great Recession

Business conditions at U.S. architecture firms, still coping with problems from the Great Recession, continue to be challenging. Still, most architecture firms have benefited from a general improvement in the economy as well as in the construction sector. Revenue at architecture firms increased almost 11% in 2012 from 2011 levels, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, and firm payrolls have followed suit. After hitting a low in mid-year 2011, architecture firms have seen slow but steady improvement, with payroll employment increasing about 3% between the low of mid-2011 and the end of 2012, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Labor.

This modest improvement in business conditions has done little to lift compensation levels at firms. Between 2011 and 2013, average total compensation for architecture positions— including base salary, overtime, bonuses, and incentive compensation— increased only slightly over 1% per year, barely more than the average increase in compensation between 2008 and 2011, when the construction sector was in steep decline.

Even this modest increase in average architect compensation may overstate the experience of the typical architect during this period. Average compensation depends on the mix by experience levels of positions reporting. Since many less experienced architecture positions were eliminated during the downturn, current average compensation may reflect a higher share of more experienced, and more highly compensated, positions. Regardless, while average compensation for architecture positions increased a mere 0.7% per year compounded between 2008 and 2011, growth increased to only 1.1% per year between 2011 and 2013.