Careers and salaries in Architecture

Hello, I am a junior in high school and was contemplating a career in architecture, but I would like to know what the realistic expected salaries would be. I live near Philadelphia so I visited Penn State, Philadelphia University, and plan on visiting Catholic College in DC. While at Penn State a girl who was about to graduate indicated she had a confirmed job lined up, I asked her privately what the expected salary was, and she replied 35k/yr. I began to think, for a 5 year degree, and required certification, 35k was a little low. I then asked what she expected to make after 5-10 years, and she replied 50k/ yr. I quickly thought that the engineering side may prove more profitable, but not sure. Are these realistic salaries? Why are they so low? Any suggestion or guidance would be a great help. Thanks.
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I've worked continuously in architecture and some engineering for 52 years. The only really wealthy architects I have known were born rich or married rich. It is not as high paying as Medicine or Law or EE, but none of the professions connected with production of buildings are high paying. The average construction worker will make more than you per hour for many years. Incidentally when I was teaching Design, My best students were ex-construction tradesmen in their 30's and 40's.
That said, there are other great advantages. If you are truly drawn to architecture you will NEVER be bored, you will have fun and can look on your completed work with pride. If you are good, just good and competent, not necessarily great, and believe in what you design, you will be happily creating until you die. Sounds grim, but a happy busy architect is a good way to go. I've met several architects practicing into their nineties.
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I would like to add something to this conversation. What EDS says is really true. And hopefully he will agree with what I say now. When the building construction is complete you will see what you designed. If you don't like it you can change your concepts if you think this will improve what you design. Nothing is better if you and others like your design and they will tell you one way or the other. There is a lot to learn to be an architect. Not only some math but some engineering will be in your courses and not to mention all the phases of the arts, proportion, rhythm, colors, construction materials and the history of architecture, past, present and future what may be used in the future etc. Regards to money. I personally liked architecture and am licensed architect. But I really liked structural engineering better. I am a licensed structural engineer also. But don't put this down, an experienced senior structural engineer to date can make at least $60,000 to $80,000 and more if you become an associate a year and will get better as the years go by. And you still see the buildings of structural framing that you designed, details that hold the building together. And those in the know will give you the credit that you deserve as being the structural engineer of the project.
CID...
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I was making $60k ten years ago as a mid level computer programmer.

OP wants to be rich, not well thought of.
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snoopy snipped-for-privacy@excite.com wrote:

Catholic University
http://architecture.cua.edu /

yes
yes, but the grad would not be certified

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I strongly agree with Don. Sir Christopher Wren is buried in St. Paul's in London (a building I particularly admire) which he designed. Near his burial place is written in Latin "If you seek my monument look around you." Good attitude! EDS
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I'm pretty much in agreement with most of the people here. If all you are looking at is money, then yeah, engineering is the way to go. But I like others think it is totally wrong to look at a future career with only money on your mind. If you enjoy creating things from thin air, drawing, seeing your design ideas get built, then architecture is very rewarding. What your friend said is probably average for an architectural career. It's an old mans game, and the best you can get is running your own firm. The architect is THE BOSS when it comes to the design of something. You have to know everything about everything. The engineer is almost always going to work under an architect and will engineer something someone else has done. But you gotta start at the bottom in this game like any other. Part of the reason you get such lower pay at the start is because you start as a draftsman and lots of people can get a certificate to draft at a 2 year school. But knowing how to draft and knowing architecture are two different things. You should be able to move up faster than some of those other people. But again the big money doesn't come without experience and many years, and eventually your own business.
The best thing to ask yourself is, if you could do something for the rest of your life for free, what would it be. Then try and go get paid doing it. Your better off loving your job and getting paid less than usual for it, then hating your job, getting paid the big bucks, but never having time to actually enjoy the money you make. Remember your at the job for 8 or more hours a day, every day until you retire. That's a lot of time to put into something you don't really enjoy. Think about happiness before money and you'll never be unhappy no matter how much you make.
That being said, you can also be creative in the engineering field and make good money doing it. You'll need a lot of math skills, you'll be doing a lot of number crunching. One thing I would highly recommend if you do want to get into this field, something I wish I would have done, is to actually go out there and build things with your hands. Take summer job in construction, break your back now so you don't have to make stupid mistakes later. Once you know how things actually get put together, you'll be way ahead of the game when your out there trying to design or engineer a building of your own. You'll know what works and what doesn't. Good luck to you!
--
Edgar



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Agreed. When I was about 4 years into architectural drafting, had spent a year drawing details on the Federal Office Building, and had begun at BAC night school, I was offered the job as assistant field architect on the 600,000 sq. ft high rise Federal Building. (Now the JFK Federal Building) Climbed all over it, walked (or really crawled) on high steel, reviewed shop drawings, checked concrete slumps, etc., etc. and acted as go-between between the GC (from Dallas) and the local Subs after JFK was killed (no love lost there). It was the best thing I could have done to help my career. I got to really see how a building is built and what goes into the mix besides construction materials. And the best thing was that I had drawn up a good portion of the drawings. (Back then I was called "the fastest pencil in the East" ;-)) EDS
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Yes EDgar;
I agree with EDS except if you don't want to live in the bottom of a modern world.
What was said: "Your better off loving your job and getting paid less than usual for it, then hating your job, getting paid the big bucks, but never having time to actually enjoy the money you make. Remember your at the job for 8 or more hours a day, every day until you retire. That's a lot of time to put into."
Yes you can have what is said and get a low pay but what if you get married, want a house, have a car, have kids, hospital payments with today's economy you almost can't make it on a architects pay unless you or your family already have money and survive comfortably. The only ones that get the pay, that is deserved, from an architect is the Principles of the firm and his associates. And then again if you are the principle you are so involved with the business of the firm while your help does the design, drafting, specifications and the like. Ahh yes, and you have to stamp and sign what they have done and take all the responsibility of the project.
By the way the secrete is, if married you and your wife have to work, hold off on having kids, save for a house while both of you are working. Hopefully you will get a house which is your first, you might be able to get another in later years. By the time you reach the associates status and the pay you then might design and build your second house. Be careful though your worse client as an architect will by your wife when designing your second home.
Take your pick...
CID...
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I've pretty much followed the route to a tee. Getting ready to try out the licensing tests now that they will have switched over in July. Have a girlfriend and we own a small house together. Don't plan on having kids anytime soon. We get by and enjoy life together. But my lot is fairly large so I can expand the house someday, and hope to do so. Either make it a bigger house or make it a multi-unit rental property. Been getting a lot of project management practice lately too. But yeah if you want the wife and kids thing right away, with a wife that stays home and takes care of the kids and all that good stuff, do like was said and get into banking. I guess Kris is right, it's all about what he wants in life, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to be rich. Only thing is that most younger people don't really know what it actually entails to be rich. Long hours, time on the road, away from your family, and almost ALWAYS thinking about work. You'll probably need a little more time in architecture to get there, but you can get there, no doubt.
--
Edgar



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I'm in my third semester of studio and I'm making just a hair more than that working at a firm.

Interestingly, it isn't how much time you've put in or how much you've spent or any of that stuff that is of value to your employer. That is, your choice of the word "for" is utterly wrong. She isn't going to be paid "for" that crap.

It's good to know that you love architecture.

Maybe.
What makes you think they are low? What's "high"? Who makes those numbers? Why?

You make money by bringing other people value. The more value you can bring them the more money they will give you.
Other people are chasing the same money you are chasing. Why should you have it and not them?
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