The Top 5 Best-Paying Architecture Positions

Five positions to aspire to for financial and creative freedom within the architecture industry

Architecture is a dynamic field that combines imagination, technical expertise, and an acute understanding of aesthetics and functionality. It offers numerous career options, each with its own distinct rewards. If you are particularly interested in the financial aspect, you may be curious about the highest-paying positions. Here are the five highest-paying positions in architecture as of 2023.

Principal Architect

1 Principal Architect

Principal Architects are the pinnacle of the architectural profession. They supervise all architectural aspects of a project, from conception to completion. These responsibilities include overseeing a team of architects and designers, communicating with clients, and ensuring that all work meets the highest quality and productivity standards. Principal Architects command a high salary due to their extensive experience and vast knowledge. The average annual salary for a Principal Architect in the United States is between $150,000 and $200,000 in 2023, depending on the size and location of the firm.

To become a Principal Architect, you'll need a Bachelor's degree in Architecture as a minimum, although many professionals in this role also hold a Master's degree. You'll also need to complete an internship, pass the Architect Registration Examination, and gain licensure in your state. After becoming a licensed architect, you'll need to gain significant experience (often 10+ years) in the field and demonstrate leadership skills to progress to this senior role.

Project Architect

2 Project Architect

Project Architects oversee the design and implementation of particular architectural projects. They collaborate with clients, contractors, and other architects to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. In addition, they are responsible for creating detailed project plans, resolving any problems that arise during the project, and ensuring that the final product meets the client's requirements. The average Project Architect's salary ranges between $90,000 and $130,000 annually.

A Project Architect also requires a Bachelor's degree in Architecture, and often a Master's degree. After completing your education, you'll need to complete an internship and pass the Architect Registration Examination to become licensed. From there, you'll need several years of experience in the field, with a focus on project management and coordination.

Project Manager

3 Project Manager

Project Managers in architecture oversee a project's planning, design, and construction from start to finish. They coordinate with architects, contractors, and clients to ensure the project is completed on time and within budget. Their responsibilities also include risk management and quality control. The average annual salary for a Project Manager in architecture is around $80,000 to $120,000, depending on experience and location.

To become a Project Manager in architecture, you'll need a Bachelor's degree in Architecture, Construction Management, or a related field. A Master's degree can be beneficial. You'll also need several years of experience in the field, with a focus on managing projects from conception to completion. Certifications like the Project Management Professional (PMP) can also be advantageous.

Sustainable Design Architect

4 Sustainable Design Architect

As the term implies, Sustainable Design Architects are concerned with designing structures and spaces with minimal environmental impact. They use energy-efficient systems, sustainable materials, and innovative design techniques to achieve this. These professionals are in high demand due to the growing emphasis on sustainability within the architectural field. The average salary for a Sustainable Design Architect ranges between $80,000 and $120,000 per year.

A Sustainable Design Architect requires a Bachelor's degree in Architecture, with a focus on sustainable or green design being highly beneficial. A Master's degree in a related field can also be advantageous. After completing your education, you'll need to complete an internship, pass the Architect Registration Examination, and gain licensure. Experience and knowledge in sustainable design principles, energy-efficient systems, and sustainable materials are essential.

BIM Manager

5 BIM Manager

BIM Managers play a crucial role in integrating technology into the design process. They are responsible for managing and implementing design software and technologies, training staff, and troubleshooting any technical issues. They also stay updated on the latest technological advancements in the field of architecture. The average annual salary for a Design Technology Manager ranges from $75,000 to $110,000.

To become a BIM Manager, you'll typically need a Bachelor's degree in Architecture, Engineering, or a related field. You'll also need a deep understanding of BIM software and processes. Several years of experience in the field, particularly in a role that involves using or managing BIM, is usually required. Certifications in BIM software, such as Revit or ArchiCAD, can be advantageous. As a BIM Manager, you'll manage and implement BIM standards and procedures, train staff, and coordinate with project teams. Therefore, strong leadership, communication, and project management skills are essential.


In conclusion, the field of architecture offers a variety of well-compensated positions. The salaries listed above are averages and can vary based on experience, location, and the position's specific requirements. Even though salary is essential, choosing a career path that aligns with your interests, skills, and long-term career goals is equally important. Ultimately, the most satisfying job is one that you are enthusiastic about.

To develop better skills with the essential technology side of your career, check out these great courses in our course library:

Grow Great Skills to become a BIM Manager with our Revit Certification Course

Develop Key Skills In Design for excelling as a Project Architect With Our Rhino Certification Course

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Brandon Gibbs

Senior Advocate

Elevate Your Architectural Career and Salary with Cutting-Edge Skills