We already know that you are a first class architect.
You dedicate all the time in the world to your projects.
You master all kinds of design programs and produce plans like a machine.
But when payday comes, you look at your paycheck and think:
"What is this shit?"
I feel you. You're not alone.
The pay-check fight isn't just about you. It's a global thing.
In some places, architects are pushing just as hard and making a lot less. A hell of a lot less.
But why should I care?
Because your great design skills are not longer enough.
You need to learn new business skills and start making more money.
It's time to look at the big picture and change your strategy.
Reality of Architect Salaries Globally
I have asked my friend Frank (my super ChatGPT Agent) to make me a list of the 50 countries where there are more architects.
Then I asked him to tell me what is the average salary in each country, and compare them in dollars, so we can get an idea of the relationship between them.
And this is what he has shown me.
|Country Name||# of Architects||Avg. Salary (Local Currency)||Avg. Salary (USD)|
Here I only show you 20, so that we can get an idea.
A Closer Look at Salary Disparities
You already knew that architectural salaries can vary wildly from country to country.
But let's zoom in a bit and talk numbers.
In the United States, architects pull in an average of around $80,000 to $100,000 a year. Not too shabby.
But then you flip the globe and head to Mexico, and the picture changes dramatically.
Architects there are taking home an average of $10,000 annually.
It's a real eye-opener, isn't it?
And don't even get me started on countries where the cost of living is sky-high.
Places like Switzerland or Norway.
Where everything from a cup of coffee to rent can make your wallet cry.
However, architects in these countries do not necessarily earn enough money to cover these high costs.
For instance, in Switzerland, the average architect's salary is around $87,000.
And in Norway, it's about $76,000.
Decent, yes. But not enough when you factor in the cost of living in those countries.
A Zoom out
Here are the numbers with some wider perspective.
The amount of architects is +1 million, and the average salary is $38,400.
(Remember we are only analysing 50 countries, but there are many more.)
Europe has the most architects, where most of their countries (15/23 – 65%) earn above the average salary.
Asia has nearly the same amount of architects, but only 38% (5/13) of the countries earn above the average salary.
On the other side, on South America only Chile makes just the average salary, the rest 91% are below it.
Obviously, I have nothing else to say about North America.
|Territory||# Countries||# Architects||Average Salary $|
The 'Why' Behind the Numbers
Let's get analytical for a moment.
Have you ever stopped to think why this income disparity exists?
It's not that architects in one country try harder or have more credentials.
No, it's a mix of factors like supply and demand, standard of living and, yes, even cultural attitudes toward architecture.
In some places, being an architect is like being a local celebrity.
In others, you're just another chicken in the barnyard.
In Japan, for example, architects are highly respected and earn an average salary of about $55,000.
The culture there values architectural expertise, and that shows in the salaries.
But there are also countries where architects are plentiful but opportunities are scarce, resulting in a wide range of salaries.
That’s our case in Spain for example.
Where there are more than 50,000 architects, but there are very few opportunities to work, so architects end up lowering their fees.
I guess you might have a similar situation in your country, right?
So why does all this matter to you?
Because this overview can help you improve your situation.
And, obviously, you can rethink what steps you need to take next.
If architects in another country with a similar cost of living earn more, it's a signal to step up your efforts.
Why Being a Design Nerd Isn't Enough
The Limitations of your Technical Skills
You might be an AutoCAD nerd, SketchUp, or whatever design tool is hot right now.
That’s cool. But let's be real.
Knowing how to create a stunning design or a spectacular 3D model is not everything.
You can draw the dreamiest buildings and the slickest interiors.
But if you don't know how to sell those designs or manage a project efficiently, you're leaving money on the table.
Sure, you'll get some oohs and aahs for your stunning visuals.
But unless you know how to turn those into cold, hard cash, you're only scratching the surface of your potential.
What You're Missing on the Business Side
The word "business" might make you cringe.
Especially if you entered the architectural field driven by your passion for design.
But hey, no one's saying you have to give up that passion.
What you need to do is pair it with some business lessons.
We're talking basic marketing, people skills, sales tactics (the works).
And it's not as boring as it sounds.
You could be the greatest designer in the world.
But if you can't negotiate a good contract, or if you're clueless about how to attract more clients, you're playing a losing game.
It's like owning a Ferrari but not knowing how to drive it.
Or having Messi in your team and leaving him on the bench.
Or being a gourmet chef but not knowing how to run a restaurant.
What is the point of having such great skills and not using them?
You follow me, right?
It's time to diversify your skills.
Learn about sales techniques.
Sign up for a digital marketing course.
Or simply learn to manage your time better.
You have plenty of options.
All you have to do is take the first step.
What did I learn?
The salaries for architects can differ widely depending on the country and even the region within that country.
High-cost-of-living areas like the UAE might offer higher salaries, but that could be offset by the living expenses.
On the other hand, countries like Sweden offer competitive salaries along with a robust social security net, which adds another layer of attraction for potential job seekers.
The estimated number of architects in a country is an essential figure to consider.
Countries with fewer architects could offer less competition but also fewer opportunities.
Alternatively, a higher number of architects could indicate a saturated market.
But also one that potentially has more variety in the types of projects available.
Skill and Specialization Premium
Not all architectural roles are created equal, and this is evident from the salary ranges even within the same country.
Countries with advanced construction and infrastructure sectors like Sweden and the UAE tend to pay a premium for specialized skills.
Whether it's sustainable design, commercial architecture, or project management, having a niche skill can significantly boost your income potential.
So now, along with geographical variance and market saturation, understanding the value of specialized skills in your field can offer a more comprehensive view for your career planning.
By now, you've got a pretty good lay of the land.
Knowing what the world's willing to pay you for and where.
But knowing isn't enough, it's doing that counts.
How do you make sure that at the end of the day, the math on your income and expenses actually makes sense?
That starts with a good old understanding of business basics.
Introduction to Business Basics
You need to know where your money is coming from and where it's going.
Control your invoices, make sure your clients are paying, and watch your expenses.
The goal is to have more money coming in than going out.
But it's amazing how many architects get it wrong.
My tip: Learn the Business Fundamentals with us.
🎓 Start building your architecture business with the Business Challenges. It will help you understand the basic business principles to start small and grow fast.
Time Management and Productivity
Next is mastering the art of time management.
When working on multiple projects, it's easy to get overwhelmed.
But a few time-management tricks can change the rules of the game.
Prioritize your tasks.
Know what needs immediate attention and what can wait.
Invest in a good project management program, too.
With so many tools available, it's easy to find one that fits your workflow.
It's not about making to-do lists. It's about being smart with your time.
My tip: Master your Time Management skills.
🎓 Unlock the secrets of effective time management with the Operations – Time Management Challenge. Learn strategies to sort your priorities, optimize your workday, and get more done without the burnout.
You are more than just an architect who draws buildings.
You have your own career, like an entrepreneur.
So take charge of your life for once.
- how to talk to clients
- how to manage money
- how to manage your time
When you get good at these things, you'll stop being stuck.
You'll earn more and feel better about your work.
Take control and get moving.
Don't just read this and forget about it. Do something.
It's time to stop talking about getting better and actually do it.
But whatever you choose, start now.
Let's get back to work, and make more money.
Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you with:
1. If you're still looking for traction in your architecture business, subscribe to the Wisdom for the Modern Architect Newsletter. Every week you will get actionable ideas, mental models and resources to help you build a profitable business.
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See you around,