Architecture is a bright path to take. Students who combined their drawing talent with a vivid imagination will design the most magnificent architectural masterpieces. They decide to dedicate their lives to studying and leading the architectural careers of their dreams.
If you already have many years of experience in the architecture field, it is reasonable to search for job offers from companies who would treasure an exceptional principal architect. And the best principal architect salaries have to suit the employee's knowledge and valuable experience.
Who is a Principal Architect?
The principal architect is responsible for many things in an architect's business. The person in this position has to be reliable and know the obligations required in everyday company functioning. The principal architect's mind leads the way to success.
These professionals have to be familiar with using and manipulating all kinds of architect software and data. Also, the importance lies in strategic planning and leading the team towards superbly designed architect projects.
Watch this video to listen to an interview with a principal architect:
How to Become a Principal Architect?
The first thing that is important in becoming a principal architect is to have a bachelor's or master's degree. After gaining a bachelor's degree in architecture, you should apply for a state architect license. Another vital thing is to have at least five or more years of experience in management positions.
Many years of experience in the field and vast knowledge are probably essential things for becoming a principal architect. This position seeks responsibility and creativity when dealing with all management of architectural designs and construction implementation.
Whether an architect is just an intern or has a leading role in the architect company, a principal architect has to pass all of them to reach the leading position in a firm. A principal architect is usually a proprietor of the corporation or a co-owner. Here are the position roles in an architect firm.
- Interns and assistants – they are still learning about the architecture, yet they are a vital part of any corporation, responsible for delivering data with precision and punctuality
- Bachelor Architect – Interns that complete their education together with the passing exam for a license become young architects who yet need to prove themselves and build a name
- Project Architect – responsible for running a project, independently or with a team, has substantial experience for it
- Senior Architect – an experienced architect who is responsible for many projects and has a team-leading role
- Associate Architect – deals with management and administration of the company and involves dealing with welfare and managing staff in the company
- Partners – shareholders of the association who have their word in bringing the essential decisions for the business
- Director – a founder and an owner of the architect corporation
Everyone from the position of a senior Architect to Director can also be referred to as a principal Architect who bears a lot of responsibilities to firm functioning.
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Principal Architect Vs. Technical/ Solution Architect
There are no generally adopted differences between the roles of principal and Technical or Solution Architects. Although there are various definitions regarding these roles, these positions can be understood as following:
Technical Architect specializes in infrastructure, safety, and networking. This position takes the responsibility of inside and outside works on the building, and it pays attention to technical constructional details and mechanics.
Solution Architect has a more generalized role. This position requires an architect to take responsibility of considering all aspects of a project such as data information, business impact, and application changes, as well as taking care of underlying technology and sometimes even the needs of a customer.
Principal Architect has a way more responsibilities than the previous two. This position requires an architect to deal with the business domain, more extensive projects, and even to take care of the entire corporation. But the focus is more generalized and not centered on a single architecture branch.
All of these positions provide different salaries. The principal architect's salary is one of the highest because of the fact that they are usually in a partner position of a company or a director.
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What do Principal Architects do?
Principal Architects are dedicated to a higher level of business issues with a set of decision making responsibilities that other architects cannot make. Their position is superior and allows them to solve more generalized matters of projects. Here is a typical principal architect's job description.
- Involved in strategic planning and expansion of architecture
- Participates in designing, and maintaining architectural data
- Works with clients and does all kinds of general problem-solving
- Improves business goals
Principal architects are responsible for leading all design work at or they are courageous enough to start their own businesses. Nevertheless, principal architects represent the central core of an architect firm because they make connections with possible clients while working with other design professionals.
What Is the Average Principal Architect's Salary?
The average principal architect salary in the USA is around $180,000 per year. Of course, depending on the experience, location, and employer, this salary goes either up or down on the scale, giving out this average salary summed up together with bonuses, tips, and overtime payments.
This data collected based on employment data in the past 36 months, provides information about the salary. In that way, the average wage is calculated. The principal architect tenure usually lasts between two and four years.
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5 Factors Affecting Your Principal Architect Salary
The salary of the principal architect mostly rises with years of experience. The more experienced the principal architect, the more salary exponentially raises. Together with the average salary, there are bonuses and overtime payments that influence the total sum.
Five factors can significantly affect the total sum of the average principal architect salary:
- The company business orientation
- Bonuses, commission, and profit-sharing
- Overtime payments
An experienced principal architect with 15 to 20 years of experience can earn up to $160.000, including all the bonuses. This sum goes up with those who have more than 20 years of experience, reaching their late career and the amount of $ 180.000 per year.
Being an experienced principal architect is undoubtedly a position that brings a good or a bad reputation for the firm. Over the years, architects gain prestigious positions in society, and therefore they are known among investors.
The location of an architect corporation affects the salary significantly. In the USA, there are two states where architects earn higher wages than in other countries. For example, an architect in New York and Massachusetts could make significantly more than the one in San Francisco.
So, it is not just the word of mouth that brings business projects to the firm. The success largely depends on both the location of the company and the sites where the house usually has projects to complete. Even the project prices vary depending on the location.
The Firm Business Orientation
Architect companies do many different jobs related to designing and constructing objects. Some of the associations design only family houses. Some of them only work with apartments in buildings. And some others deal with massive architectural projects that require teamwork.
Depending on obligations in various firms, and responsibility that comes with it, the salary also varies. Some of them are often on construction sites, and some do not leave their offices. These differences affect salary significantly.
Bonuses, Commission, and Profit-Sharing
Various bonuses, commission, and profit-sharing add up to the total average principal architect salary. These much depend on the success of the business. They depend on projects they had finished or even the responsibility the architect had in the projects.
A commission accepted from a client can reach high numbers. The principal architect's social skills can bring good-paying clients that will not hesitate to give money for a job that is well done. These clients will also give good recommendations, and therefore, new clients will soon be on the horizon.
Principal architects sometimes need to work long hours to meet requested deadlines with accuracy and quality. Therefore, they need to stay focused and work overtime. Of course, overtime payment can significantly raise the salary depending on the number of projects requiring long hours.
Sometimes, these overtime hours are necessary and cannot be avoided. But, the principal architect knows the value and the importance of completing the job successfully and on time. Therefore, payment for the extra effort is well deserved.
Where Are the Best Paid Principal Architects?
If you ever wondered what countries in the world have the best-paid principal architects, here is the answer. The best-paid principal architects are located in the United States. They are followed by those earning their salaries in United Emirates, Switzerland, and Hong Kong.
Slightly less money makes principal architects from Singapore, Ireland, United Kingdom. It must not be forgotten about Canada, where principal architects earn excellent salaries as well. If you are thinking about Australia or Japan, they are also among places where are the highest-paid principal architects.
Watch this video to see some countries with the highest principal architect salaries:
Career Outlook for a Principal Architect
A typical forecast of a career outlook for a Principal Architect is expected to continue its rise on average speed. Despite the big competition, there will be a need for well-educated staff willing to expand the business and take over big projects.
Although the competition in the architecture world is intense, there is an expected 8% employment rise in the next decade. The positions are still hard to find and keep. Nevertheless, the predicted increase in architecture business should thrive for those who prove their abilities as the best.
Principal Architect Salary – FAQ
Many people have an unclear vision of what it is like to live the life of an architect. Sometimes, some questions cross people's mind, and they look for an answer. Here are five common questions regarding the architect's career.
Principal Architect Salary – Summary
Maybe you are just an intern dreaming of reaching the position of the principal architect. Or perhaps an employer who needs to hire someone to take over this demanding and responsible partnership role. Nevertheless, you need to know that principal architects well deserve their high salary.
Yes, it is a well-paid job, but also a job with a tremendous responsibility and knowledge invested in the future of any architectural business. These firms advance because of the vigorous experience and motivation of principal architects who give their creativity and time to reach impossible.