11 Tips on How to Get an Architect Salary Raise

An Individual’s career should optimally move in a forward trajectory – that is how they measure their growth and success in the professional field.

When it comes to looking for a new job or changing careers, it is important to know the industry standards. However, if you are happy with your current job but looking for growth, one of the first things that comes to mind is the words ‘salary raise.’

It is quite natural to want to make more money at a job one is good at. If you’ve been thinking about asking for a raise as an architect, then you’re on the right track. Now, wondering how to go about it. Don’t worry. 

In this guide, we will talk about 11 tips on how to get an architect salary raise. Remember, without taking the initiative, you might remain stagnant in your career growth.

So, without further ado, let’s get right into the deets!

How do you get a raise as an architect?

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  1. Create A ‘Raise Portfolio’

First, let us discuss what a ‘Raise Portfolio’ actually is; it’s pretty straightforward. This is a portfolio that contains all the information on your work and achievements since the last annual review (or last salary raise).

Why is this needed? Well, most architecture offices are bustling with things to be done, clients to talk to, and new projects to work on. It is quite natural for something like an individual’s performance or salary raise to get hidden amongst all the work going on.

If you feel the need to ask for a raise, take the initiative and talk to the manager about your accomplishments. Remind the decision-makers in the firm about your presence, and more importantly, about how you have consistently contributed to the growth of the firm.

Create a detailed and graphic portfolio with pictures, charts, and accurate data. The effort put into this will pay off, as it will encourage the decision-makers to acknowledge your competency and contribution. Furthermore, it is an excellent way to keep track of your personal development. You might also notice certain weaknesses or shortcomings, which can then be improved.

  1. Professionalism Is Key

Although this goes without saying, it is a pertinent tip to keep in mind. Asking for a salary raise may seem unnatural to some. Shouldn’t the decision-makers in the firm notice the hard workers and reward them? Or maybe you’re thinking that asking for a raise might seem unprofessional.

As long as you understand how to keep it professional, it’s not. This might be a good chance to present your negotiation skills and professional work attitude. Try and keep the ‘raise portfolio’ as professional as possible. Making it a personal achievement is alright, but don’t talk about personal reasons for asking for the raise.

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When having a meeting with the decision-makers, make sure to clearly state any accomplishments, and how they have contributed to the growth of the company. Moreover, articulate how you can improve the current performance. This will tell them about your genuine interest in contributing further to the company.

After arranging a meeting with the senior decision-makers, also add key points about your strengths and accomplishments. Try to present yourself in a way that shows the desire to further your skill set and how this can benefit the company in the long run.

Instead of trying to ‘convince’ the decision-makers for a raise, convince them of the value added to the company.

  1. Talk About Future Goals

This is something we don’t typically recommend to add to a raise portfolio. Nonetheless, make a clear list of your future goals and both short-term as well as long-term plans in the company. In this conversation, it is best not to add personal goals or any plans about moving on to a different, bigger company (even if you have that in mind).

To begin with, create a list of all your future goals with the current architectural firm. Think of something like this:

  • Projects you wish to take on in the company
  • Competitions to work on in the future 
  • Learning newer software
  • Increasing your current skill set
  • Taking on larger projects
  • Goals to become LEED Accredited, gain a license, etc.
  • Any other professional milestones

Bear in mind that most of these goals are directly related to further contributing to the current company. This should justify them, giving you a raise. To top it off, any company is always looking for workers who continually work on increasing their skill set or knowledge while working with them.

You might have personal goals, but a company is not liable to pay for anybody’s personal growth. However, they will consider paying a person more if they can convince them that the addition of skills to a certain skill set will benefit the company.

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  1. Don’t Give Them Ultimatums

This is a negotiation tactic that may work but should never be used. Whether in a personal or professional space, using ultimatums is a tactic that can be read as being incredibly juvenile and will create a lasting, negative impression on your employers.

An ultimatum can be anything from telling your employers about plans to quit without the raise, or even refusing to put in more effort at work. It is incredibly unprofessional and will create a huge negative impact. Moreover, it is destructive to your career.

Giving a company an ultimatum will immediately turn them against you, which is not what any worker wants. It always helps to have the management on your side rather than on the opposite side. So when it comes to asking for a salary raise, never resort to ultimatums. It is best to keep excess emotions aside when having this conversation with the decision-makers.

  1. Maintain Poise And Grace

About the last point, we also need to point out how important it is to always maintain a certain poise and grace when speaking to management. Of course, it is okay to ultimately plan on leaving the company due to various reasons. Not getting a raise may also be a strong enough reason for an individual to choose to quit.

If you still plan on leaving, that is fine, and you are entitled to it. However, creating a scene or becoming emotional is, once again, destructive to your image. Remember, if you do leave the firm, you’d want it to send forward a good letter of recommendation. Furthermore, the supervisors will be able to refer you to other firms.

When having a conversation about a salary raise with the employers, keep your cool at all times. It is quite natural to get emotional, but regulating your emotions is essential in this scenario.

Don’t make any rash or impulsive decisions in the spur of the moment. This can be about leaving or saying something about the employers to your colleagues.

Structural engineer vs architect

  1. Focus On The Results

The cost of living is rising. Whether you live alone or with your family, there is a certain standard of living that’s needed to maintain. There is nothing to feel guilty about. Anyone who works hard has a goal in their mind about how they want to live in this world. Working towards bettering your standard of living is natural.

That being said, many people often ask for a salary raise because they want to afford certain things in life. Maybe their rent or mortgage cost is through the roof. They might need extra money for a vacation, to buy a new car, or to sustain their family.

No matter what your reasons might be, it is not a good tactic to bring it up with your architect company. Honestly, they don’t care how you maintain your standard of living. It is an entirely personal matter and very unprofessional to bring up.

Rather than focusing on the reasons you need a salary raise, focus on the results. You should mention any plans on furthering your knowledge and skills in the future. Furthermore, explain how you plan on adding more value to the job and the company with the salary raise.

In essence, you want to tell the employers how you plan on using the current and future talents for the company. Again, adding irrelevant information like wishing to take on music & dancing lessons, or learning a new language, etc. will do more harm than good.

Architecture and the culture of long hours

  1. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others

Everyone wants to grow in their career and earn more money. This is why most people might also feel like they are underpaid. This feeling can worsen if they notice that some of their peers are getting paid more than them for the same job.

A crucial thing to remember here is this – you cannot dictate how much the company decides to pay its employees, no matter what the job. Of course, it doesn’t seem fair that your peers should be getting paid relatively more, but you have no idea how their salary is structured.

When speaking to employers or decision-makers about a raise, never compare yourself to colleagues. This is an extremely unprofessional move and will make you sound whiny and demanding rather than fair-minded.

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It doesn’t matter what others are getting paid in the firm, and your salary structure doesn’t depend on someone else’s. The decision-makers have put thought into this, and they may have their reasons.

Asking for a raise that will equate your salary to someone else’s is not a good option. However, asking for a raise taking into consideration your accomplishments, is justified.

  1. No One ‘Deserves’ A Raise

You might have been working at your current firm for several years. Maybe you have put in additional hours and taken up big projects. However, this does not entitle you to ask for a higher salary.

The point we want to make is that no one ‘deserves’ a raise. This statement sounds inherently entitled and will not help you move forward in your firm. Moreover, justifying asking for a raise on the mere fact that you have worked at the firm for several years won’t help.

In reality, it doesn’t matter how many years you have put into the architecture firm. The value you are consistently adding to the firm is what will determine the raise. It may so happen that a new employee has a higher salary than you do. This might be justified if the firm feels that they are adding more value to the firm than you are.

When asking for a raise, remember to list why you should get one – and don’t make it about the duration of time you have spent there. This is not a good enough reason, and you will most likely face rejection.

  1. Timing Is Everything

This is one of the most important tips you can get. The old cliche ‘Timing Is Everything’ should be kept in mind because yes, there is a time and a place for everything.

Typically, bringing up the question of a salary raise can be done at the end of an assessment year. The annual evaluation of every individual employee is also an excellent time to bring this to your employers’ notice. Of course, remember that you can’t flat-out ask for a raise. Instead, create your ‘brag portfolio’ as mentioned above.

If you are still unsure about this, there is no harm in bringing it up with the manager. You can directly speak to the office manager about this by telling them that you wish to talk about a salary raise. Ask them when it would be an excellent time to discuss it.

Remember, if they act dismissive, it is a good idea to pursue the matter again, as it might slip their minds. That being said, you need to know where to draw the line. You cannot be persistent to the point of being demanding. Instead, gently broach the topic and ask them for a time and place when you can discuss it.

  1. Be Mindful Of The Office Environment

Another important tip we can give you is to be mindful of your office environment, and of course, the general climate around when asking for a raise. This pertains to two factors.

If you notice the office suffering through financial setbacks or losses, it is the wrong time to ask for a raise. It will make you look selfish, and self-absorbed, and create a negative impact on the employer’s mind about you.

How covid-19 will shape architectural education (8)

However, if you notice that the firm is getting better clients, having a good turnover, and becoming more profitable, go for it. You need to always be respectful when broaching this topic.

The second factor to keep in mind is your performance during the time. If you have been underperforming or slacking, asking for a raise is out of the question. In this case, it will be better if you consistently work on your performance, create an excellent portfolio, and then broach the topic of a salary raise.

  1. How Much?

Now, this is one of the most significant anxiety-inducing issues when asking for a raise. How much do you ask for, or how much is appropriate to ask for?

Honestly, this depends on the circumstances. While a lot of people might tell you to go online and look up the industry-standard rates or competitor companies paying their employees, we won’t tell you this. This goes back to our point of not comparing yourself to others.

We can say this – it is ultimately up to you to decide the figure to settle for. Of course, this does not mean you should quote a preposterous amount that is unreasonable or unrealistic.

Talk to other people in the industry (not necessarily from your company). Also, make it a point to check in with recruiters and go through job postings online. This will allow you to recalibrate your market value.

Typically, asking for a 2-5% raise on the current salary is acceptable. If you have actively worked on increasing certain skills and taking up more responsibilities, try and ask for a 5-15% raise. Finally, if you received a license, got a promotion, or achieved a career milestone, you can even ask for a 15-25% raise!

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“If you don’t ask, you won’t get it.” This is a general statement that applies to many aspects of our lives. However, when it comes to asking for an architect’s salary raise, it’s quite a universal factor.

With that, we have come to the end of our comprehensive guide. We hope these tips helped in giving the right kind of guidance needed to ask for that salary raise. We wish you all the best for the future. And of course, go get that raise!

Before we leave, we just want to add one last point. Don’t be offended or humiliated if you don’t get the raise immediately. As we mentioned earlier, there is a time for everything. There might be something else waiting, so keep cool and work hard.

Until next time!

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