Compensation Still Strong in Architecture and Design

March 17, 2009

Despite the economic downturn and the layoff of thousands of architecture and design professionals in recent months, compensation and benefits in professional design practices remains strong.

Just released is the 2009 DesignIntelligence Compensation and Benefits Survey, which draws data representing 460 professional practice locations in the United States employing more than 25,000 full-time staff. These professional practices offer a wide variety of services, including architecture, design-build, engineering, interior design, landscape architecture, urban design, and industrial design.

The survey shows that the average compensation figures continue to march upward for recent architecture school grads. The mean salary for a graduate with a Bachelor of Architecture degree, for example, has risen from $39,333 in 2008 to $41,012 in 2009. The mean salary for a graduate with a Master of Architecture degree has risen from $42,985 to $47,263.

At the other end of the architect experience scale are professionals with 20 or more years of experience. The average base compensation for this position is $100,723; however, the top 20 percent can make $142,200. And add to this an average bonus of 9.5 percent.

An interior designer with 20 years of experience is most likely to earn $97,800, with the top 20 percent making $145,333. Their bonus is 8.3 percent.

The annual DesignIntelligence Compensation and Benefits Survey is the only survey of its kind, revealing owner and executive compensation levels in addition to those for architects, project managers, interior designers, landscape architects, engineers, marketing and support staff, and others who work in professional design practices. Data is provided nationally, regionally, and at all levels of career experience.

Also included in the survey are projected compensation increases for 2010, as well as current benefits, perks, demographics, and strategic practices, such as signing bonuses and cost-of-living differentials.

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