AIA Compensation Report 2019 Finds Pay and Benefit Increases

10/07/2019 | By Bryce Prokop

AIA has released positive findings from the AIA Compensation Report 2019. The survey finds average pay for architecture staff positions is up over $10,000 since 2017.

The increase in compensation is a result of a 40% increase in non-residential construction over the last few years and a near 50-year low unemployment rate.

The Middle Atlantic region—New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania—came in as the region with the highest average salary for Level I architects, architects with at least one year of experience.



(Photo: Includes the 27 metro areas where there were sufficient responses to estimate compensation for a recent college graduate (non-licensed); Courtesy of AIA)

With an average salary of $68,780; salaries in the Middle Atlantic region are 6% higher than any other region in the U.S., which according to the report, is likely due to higher costs of living compared to other areas across the country.

The East South-Central region—consisting of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee—is the region with the lowest average salary at $57,750, 12% below the national average.

“The economy as a whole plays the biggest role in growth of salaries,” notes Matthew Tinder, AIA manager of media relations. “The entire construction sector has seen healthy gains for several years.”

Increase in Benefits

Architecture firms are also continuing to increase employee benefits, according to the report. Medical coverage remained the most-offered benefit by firms.

“The trend of better and more robust benefits has been seen across all professional industries, and speaks to the needs and priorities of the generation that will replace retiring baby boomers,” Tinder says.

Another top benefit that firms are starting to offer is sign-on bonuses, especially among large firms. According to the report, 91% of firms with 100 employees or more offer a sign-on bonus.  

[Related: These Are the Trends Shaping Architectural Licensure]

Other top benefits offered by firms include:

  • Retirement saving plans (401k, 401a, 403b)
  • Casual dress
  • Professional development opportunities


(Photo: Percentage of firms offering benefits to employees. Courtesy of AIA)

Other Architecture Compensation Report Findings

  • Over the past two years, compensation for architectural positions increased at 2.5 times the pace of growth of all professional and related staff in the economy.

  • The last instances where architect compensation reached an increase of 6% per year—1999-2008—were either just prior to or as the economy and the construction sectors were entering national economic downturns.

  • Salaries for entry-level positions are the highest in the Pacific (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington states) and Middle Atlantic regions as compared with the national average.

About the AIA Compensation Report 2019

The biannual compensation report provides salary data for more than 40 architecture firm positions in cities across the U.S. as well as industry salary and analysis on where the market is headed. The results are based on responses from 640 unique firms that qualified for the survey.

Complete results from the AIA Compensation Report 2019 can be purchased online. To compare other regions and position salaries, AIA members can use the AIA salary calculator to learn topline data on architecture position salary ranges by region of the country.

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