An architectural designer creates drawings and plans for buildings. They aren’t as qualified as an architect, and they aren’t licensed. The role is one step below a licensed, professional architect, and is typically held by those who are attempting to become an architect.
If you’re considering a career in this field or role, you may be wondering what the average architectural designer salary is and what their responsibilities are.
What Do Architectural Designers Do?
An architectural designer creates drawings and plans for both buildings and landscapes. Their responsibilities also include:
- Meeting with clients to discuss project details and budgets.
- Ensuring that project blueprints comply with local regulations.
- Creating building layouts that match the project brief.
- Using CAD software to create drawings and renderings.
- Creating technical drawings.
- Researching product solutions.
Architectural designers typically work in an office setting. They must have excellent communication skills and be able to work with teams.
Additionally, there are some skills that can help increase an architectural designer’s salary, such as:
- Autodesk Revit Architecture
- Autodesk AutoCAD
- 3D rendering
- Adobe Photoshop
Architectural designers are naturally creative people who are detail-oriented and can easily work on multiple projects at once. Most employers will require a bachelor’s degree in architecture and prior experience, but it is possible to enter this position with a high school diploma.
Potential Career Paths
An architectural designer has several potential career paths. This is one of the main entry level architecture jobs, and it opens opportunities for many careers.
The four main career paths pursued by those in position include:
- Project Manager
- Project architect
- Design architect
- Architect (not naval or landscape)
A large percentage of architectural designers will go on to become project managers.
While architectural designers are not required to be licensed or even have a college degree, most employers will expect those in this position to have a bachelor’s degree in architecture.
Most will attend a college program that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board or the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
Majors can include:
- Landscape architecture
- Architectural engineering
- Similar majors related to environmental design and/or architecture
Graduates of architecture programs can enter the position of an architectural designer while pursuing their architect license. The position can be used to gain the necessary work experience for licensing.
Licensing requirements typically include a three-year internship. During this three-year period, architectural designers earn a salary while working closely under a licensed architect.
Completing the education, internship and exam requirements is a process that can take up to a decade.
How Much Do Architectural Designers Make?
In most cases, architectural designers are individuals who are attempting to pass their Architect Registration Examination (ARE). Although this position is considered an entry-level job in the architectural field, the average salary for an architectural designer is above the national average.
According to Indeed.com, the average base salary for an architectural designer is:
This base salary does not include bonuses and other benefits that may be offered by the employer, such as paid vacation, retirement plan options and health insurance.
Architectural Design Salary Range
The salary listed above is just the average. Like any other position, salaries can vary greatly depending on your experience level and location.
The salary range for an architectural designer, according to PayScale, is:
- $42,000 (lowest 10%) to $71,000 (top 90%)
- The median salary is $54,000
PayScale also has some salary data for bonuses, commissions, profit sharing and other additional compensation that may increase the salary:
- Bonuses: $499-$5,000
- Commission: $3,000-$14,000
- Profit sharing: $504-$6,000
PayScale’s data for this position is based on more than 4,600 salary profiles.
Salaries by Location
Experience is just one piece of the puzzle when determining the salary of an architectural designer. Location also plays a role in how much an architectural designer earns.
The highest paying cities (according to Indeed.com and Zippia) for this position include:
- Chicago, IL: $84,376/year
- Orlando, FL: $69,495/year
- New York, NY: $68,972/year
- Atlanta, GA: $68,215/year
- Washington, DC: $66,051
- Seattle, WA: $64,640/year
Generally, the higher the cost of living in the city, the higher the salary.
Common Benefits for Architectural Designers
In addition to their base salary, architectural designers also enjoy a number of benefits offered by employers, including:
- License reimbursement
- Employee stock ownership plan
- Employee mentoring program
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
- Paid vacation
- Paid sick days
- Flexible schedules
- Health savings account
- Assistance with professional development
- 401(k) plans
- Disability insurance
These benefits are valuable, and while they aren’t considered a part of the position’s base salary, they should be considered when evaluating the overall pay for an architectural designer.
The position of an architectural designer is a stepping stone to becoming a licensed architect. While most people will pursue this position while taking the ARE exam and pursuing their license, it is a position that they will stay in for quite some time. It can take up to 10 years to become a licensed architect.