Who Is The Highest Paid Architect | Highest Paying Architect Careers

Architecture is the very fabric that clad our society. Automatically, architects can change our settings to be aesthetically endowed and instinctively make us turn left or right when we enter a space or building.

Hence, they can alter our mood, inspire us, foster a community, and elevate our living. That is why we ask who is the highest-paid architect. 

And, this article will explain the highest-paid architects, their careers, educational requirements, and average salaries.

What Architects do

Architects are basically involved from every stage of the building construction. Their expertise begins from the initial stage of conceptualization to the completion of the building.

Hence, architects oversee the design of a building and ensure public interest and safety.

In a nutshell, architects general works can be in these phases or roles.

A. Design

Generally, Architects make the design of the idea provided by the client. Hence, this design equally becomes the plan for the execution of the project.

Architects make plans for offices, schools and also provide preliminary estimates for the cost and as well as the construction time for the project. 

Plans show the building’s appearance as well as the internal detail of the construction of the building, the drawings of the structural system, air conditioning, electrical systems, plumbing, and communications systems.

B. Documentation

In this stage, architects produce detailed drawings, outlines, budgets, and regulations to be observed during the execution of the project.

Someone has to pay attention to the safety regulations, local planning regulations, and restrictions.

Apparently, the only person dim fit to make these observations is the architect. 

C. Construction

This is where special experts build up the construction team for the construction of the design made.

These experts include engineers, menial workers, designers, and financiers.

How much is an Architect’s Salary?

Architects’ earnings are totally dependent on years of experience, location of practice, and area of specialty.

According to May 2019 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), typically, an average Architects earn an annual salary of $80,750, in relation to median hourly wage of $38.82.

However, Architects earnings tend to increase as they gain experience in their field. A survey by PayScale.com shows the correlation between income and the increasing years of experience in the field.

This survey opines that;

  • 0-5 years = $51,000
  • 5-10 years = $65,000 
  • 10-20 years = $75,000 
  • 20+ years = $95,000 

The 10 Highest Paying Careers in Architecture

There are various kinds of architect careers with their specific pay level. Hence, each architectural career has its modalities and gains.

Below are the 10 highest paid/paying architect careers;

#1  Landscape Architect

Landscape architects specialize in creating landscape designs and oversee the construction of landscape development for commercial projects, parks, golf courses, office complexes, and residential real estate developments.

Educational requirements: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture.

Others are state licensing including completion of an internship and passing the landscape architect registration exam.

Average Salary: $28,885 – $132,393, Annual Provincial Median Salary (BC): $67,135

 #2. Architectural Technologist

Architectural technicians are experts in providing technical support to professional architects and civil design engineers in carrying out research; preparing drawings, architectural models, contracts; and overseeing construction projects.

Educational requirements: associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Others are AUTOCAD or CD.

Average Salary: $39,355 – $97,042, Annual Provincial Median Salary (BC): $58,939

#3. Architectural Designer

Architectural designers produce CAD drawings, renderings, layouts, and color boards for architectural projects. This is one of the highest-paid architect career.

Educational requirements: Bachelor of Architecture

Average Salary: $40,000 – $74,000

#4. Preservation Architect

Preservation architects concentrate on preserving historical buildings with great value by making repairs and renovations but strive not to alter the appearance of the building.

Educational requirements: Degree in historical architecture

Average Salary: $46,000 – $102,000

#5. Green Building & Retrofit Architect

Green building and retrofit architects design new buildings and retrofit existing buildings to reduce energy consumption and decrease environmental impact.

Educational requirements: Degree in architecture, internship, and masters in Green Architecture.

Average Salary: $49,908 – $93,852

#6. Commercial Architect

Commercial architects oversee the design of commercial development projects and strive to establish and maintain budgets, schedules, and manage the project delivery process.

Educational requirements: 5-year professional bachelor’s degree and internship

Average Salary: $49,908 – $93,852

#7. Industrial Architect

Industrial architects are experts in incorporating designs, machinery, equipment, and industrial building code requirements into functional industrial buildings, such as factories, storage buildings, power plants, and warehouses.

This is another highest paid architects career.

Educational requirements: master’s or bachelor’s degree in Architecture and internship program.

Average Salary: $61,000 – $116,000

#8. Architecture Manager

Architecture managers manage all other various kinds of architects to achieve more efficiency. 

Educational requirements: at least a bachelor’s degree in architecture or engineering.

Average Salary: $60,169 – $150,413

#9. Senior Architect

Senior architects like managers oversee design development, production of working drawings and construction documents on projects, and as well as maintain budgets, schedules, and deliverables to clients.

Educational requirements: at least a bachelor’s degree in architecture, and state licensing.

Average Salary: $61,000 – $116,000

#10. Extreme Architect

Extreme architects specialize in unique projects that are highly problematic especially projects in extreme climates, such as in Antarctica. 

This is another lucrative career you can choose as an architect.

Educational requirements: Bachelor of Architecture or Master of Architecture, internship, and state licensing. 

Average Salary: extreme architects make upwards of $100,000+ per year.

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Can an architect make millions?

Yes, architects can make 6 figures in the field because of the lucrative nature of the career. However, pay keen attention as we highlight how to earn 6 figures as an architect.

To earn 6 figures and become a millionaire as an architect, it is crucial you pay attention to the variations in the field which contribute to the earnings.  Architects earn excellent wages, but several factors lead to wide variations in their pay levels. 

It affects this wide disparity of income for architects by location, size of the firm, years of experience, level of education, and licensing. 

First, to be successful and rake in millions in this field, you must earn a bachelor’s degree and preferably, a master’s degree. All architects need to pass an exam for a license in their state of employment and as well as possess the required license.

Second, the location and modalities of the architect’s job to determine the possibility of making a million in the career. However, the region of the country where an architect works and their area of specialty has a significant impact on their earnings. 

The highest-paid architects work for larger firms with revenues of $15 million or more. They earn a mean income of $104,870. You can find these architects in major metropolitan areas. 

10 Highest-Paid Architects in the World

Although it is difficult to name the world’s single greatest architect, there are several master architects who are arguably strong contenders for the title. Here are some of the 10 highest-paid architects in the world; 

#1. Norman Foster

The highest-earning architect in the world is the 77-year-old Norman Foster of Foster and Partners. British architect Norman Foster is one of the most famous living architects in the world. 

As the founding partner of Foster + Partners, most of us will have seen examples of his work such as The Gherkin building at 30 St Mary Axe, London, and The HSBC Building in Hong Kong, both highly distinctive buildings which are architecturally ahead of their time.

Over his illustrious career, Norman Foster has won over 470 awards in architecture and designs.

He has a salary of £2m a year. In 2007, he made £120 million when he sold 40% of his practice. He still owns a 45% stake in the firm. 

Over the course of his career, Sir Norman Foster Net Worth is $200 million.

#2. Zaha Hadid 

Zaha Hadid is the most famous modern architect in the world. She was a pioneer who transformed architecture in the 21st Century. She is tagged as the queen of the curve, and the first woman to have won the Pritzker Prize.

This made her receive the most prestigious Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011 and was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 2012.

Hadid’s buildings are popular as feminine in their undulating curves and unusual geometry.

From the London Aquatics Centre to the Galaxy SOHO complex in Beijing, this celebrated architect was a sought-after architect for both residential and commercial builds. Some of her buildings include the HeydarAliyev Center, the London Aquatics Centre, the Guangzhou Opera House, and the Napoli Afragola Railway Station. 

At the time of her death, Zaha Hadid had an estimated net worth of $210 million.

#3. Frank Gehry 

He is one of the most famous architects in the world today.

The 1997 Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain is perhaps the finest example of the style Gehry applied to many of his works like the Disney Hall in Los Angeles and MIT’s Strata Center in Cambridge Massachusetts.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation building in Paris, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and 8 Spruce Street in New York are also samples of his work.

Among the most notable residential buildings designed by Gehry must be his Santa Monica home which he still lives in.

Frank Gehry has accumulated a personal fortune of approximately $100 million.

#4. Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright is also one of the most innovative American architects, designers, writers, and educators the world has known.

He has designed over 1000 structures in his 70 years of architectural practice. He is an adherent to the philosophy of harmonizing humanity and its environment which he called organic architecture.

As a result, he revolutionized 20th-century idea architecture by coming up with the all-American Prairie architecture style which made use of clean geometries and prominence on horizontality. 

One of his most adored works is the Falling water7 house in rural southwestern Pennsylvania which is widely acknowledged as one of the best American architecture.

The building has a cascade of rectangular balconies, cantilevered over a natural waterfall, and was built for the Kaufmanns family.

His other famous works are Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, which is a testament to Wright’s brand of architecture, and the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. 

At the time of his death in 1959, Frank Lloyd Wright’s estate was valued at approximately $3 million, which is equivalent to about $30 million today.

This is another highest-paid architect.

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#5. Philip Johnson

Johnson joined the architecture department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York to advance his skills, and later, around 1941, he enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he studied with Breuer and Walter Gropius.

In 1946 after his military service, Johnson built his own architectural practice. One of his initial works, the Glass House paved way for him and became the landmark of modern architecture which launched Johnson’s architectural career into the limelight. 

Johnson’s spectacular buildings are The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, The Williams Tower in Houston, Texas, 550 Madison Avenue, New York, and PPG Place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Other Later works of Johnson were the Gate of Europe towers in Madrid completed in 1996 and the Urban Glass House condominiums in New York completed in 2006.

Throughout his long career and life, Johnson accumulated wealth that at his death was estimated to be $5 million.

#6. Ludwig Mies van derRohe

For Mies, he was concerned with being able to express the spirit of the modern era.

He often made use of industrial steel and plate glass for his buildings, which is evident in works such as Barcelona Pavilion, Crown Hall, Lakeshore Drive, Villa Tugendhat, and the Seagram Building achieved with the collaboration of Philip Johnson. 

Indeed, the Barcelona Pavilion (a temporary structure, actually called the German Pavilion built for the Barcelona exposition of 1929) and Villa Tugendhat in the Czech Republic are two works that have earned the title of European Masterworks in contemporary architecture.

Mies adoption of his unique aesthetic credos and the tenets of “efficient” sculptural assembly of modern industrial materials pulled him out to the world’s eyes.

His use of simple rectilinear and planar forms, clean lines, pure use of color, and the extension of space around and beyond interior walls made him unique in the field and as well as an inspiration to many rising architects.

Many young aspiring and successful modern-day architects have all cited Mies as the source of their inspiration.

At the time of his death, Mies had accumulated a personal wealth of approximately $5 million.

#7. Moshe Safdie

Born on July 14, 1938, Safdie studied architecture at McGill University. His master’s thesis, Habitat 67 turned out to be the design that launched his international career.

As a first appearance project, Habitat 67 is a model community and housing complex in Montreal Canada whose units are piled on top of one another and made from prefabricated concrete.

Of course, his more recent landmarks are Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands and Jewel at Changi airport,  National Gallery of Canada, YadVashem and the AlrovMamilla Quarter in Jerusalem, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City.

Moshe Safdie is believed to have built an estimated personal net worth of $150 million.

This is another highest-paid architect.

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#8. Renzo Piano 

Renzo Piano uniqueness lies because he has no unique style. He is known not to have a single style, as everything he does varies in look and design.

However, his buildings are all as masterful as they are diverse. 

Renzo Piano is the Italian architect behind the Shard, one of London’s most spectacular buildings.

In France, Renzo Piano gets credit for his work on The Pompidou Center, in Genoa, Italy, the Biosphere in the Old Port, in Japan, the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, and in Los Angeles, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

Also, in Tokyo, he designed the scintillating Maison Hermes, the flagship store of the French Luxury brand Hermes. The building has a façade composed of some 13,000 pieces of glass which when illuminated at night resembles a “magic lantern”.

The Maison Hermes was started in 1998 and completed in 2001 showing how complex and task-demanding the project is to Hermes.

For Expo 70, in Osaka, Japan, he worked with his family firm and designed a Pavilion of a lightweight structure composed of steel and reinforced polyester.
Renzo Piano has a net worth of about $30 million.

#9. Santiago Calatrava

Born in 1951, in Valencia, Spain, Calatrava is an architect, structural engineer, sculptor, and painter. Spanish architects are celebrated for their unique capability of designing buildings that look like living organisms.

The Milwaukee Art Museum or the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge or the rib cages of dinosaurs are two well-known examples of “living organisms”. These projects gained him worldwide attention and have made him one of the most distinguished working architects today.

His architectural expertise and creativity were revealed in the project at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub completed in 2016. The building is basked in white, with interiors dominated by a glass oculus allowing daylight to filter into its main hall.

With such prominent works in some of the world’s best cities, Calatrava has reportedly built himself a personal fortune of some $35 million.

#10. Rem Koolhaas 

Rem Lucas Koolhaas is a Dutch architect who graduated from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Koolhaas is one of the most influential architects of our time.  

Born in 1951, in Valencia, Spain, Calatrava is a designer and architectural theorist, an architect, structural engineer, sculptor, and painter.

Koolhaas is Pritzker prize-winning architect, he is known for his innovative creations. Some of them include the CCTV Center in Beijing, the De Rotterdam Complex, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in China. 

In 2015, OMA designed The Interlace in the western part of Singapore and was awarded the World Building of the Year title at the 2015 World Architecture Festival.

Rem Koolhaas has accumulated approximately $5 million in personal wealth.

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An architect’s primary role is to combine idea, aesthetics, space, designs, symmetry, geometry, and construction to make out a workable and satisfying edifice.  

An architect with the required degree with a license is at liberty to make a lot of fortune in the field. Because it may seem challenging, the field is also full of opportunities. 

From the above highlight, it becomes clear what architecture means, what architects can do, their earnings value, and as well expatiate on the 10 highest paid architects in the world.


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