11 Architect Salary Negotiation Tips

Many people cringe at the idea of having to negotiate their architect salary. Often this can result in thousands of lost income opportunity if not handled correctly.

I am not advocating you ask for an outrageous salary, but you should be clear about the value you bring to the table. You need to be aware what your skills and qualifications are worth in the current marketplace.  

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Most of these tips refer to a new job offer but some also apply to renegotiating a current architect salary.

1. They need to like you

The better you can position yourself with the hiring manager and/or the person that makes the salary decisions the better off you will be when it comes to negotiation time.

They will be thinking throughout the interview and subsequent negotiation, “how much would I like working with this person?” You should go for an 11 out of 10!

2. They have to believe you deserve it

They will need to sell you internally to others that may be making the salary and hiring decisions. They will pay more, if they think you are worth it. Don’t feel compelled to ask for more if it is a fair offer, however you should always counter the offer.

3. Be flexible on “currency”

Think about the total value of your deal. There is more to compensation than just salary. Vacation, retirement, personal days, work hours, sick days, bonuses can all be negotiated.

4. They need to believe they CAN get you

If they know you are just interviewing to see what is out there or you have other better offers they will be less likely to fight for you internally.

5. Understand the person at the table

Who is this hiring manager or supervisor? What are their deadlines? Get all info you can on them including past employers, current employees, etc. This can be very useful to see what their hiring priorities are and ultimately why they might offer a more competitive salary.

6. Negotiate multiple things at the same time

Ask for A, B, C, and Dat the same time but limit demands. As mentioned above think about the total package of salary, bonus, vacation, start date, etc. Tell them what is the most important out of your list.

Don’t agree to salary then come back and also ask again for more vacation. Offers usually take time to put together so by asking for everything upfront will likely reduce the frustration of the employer.

7. Stay “at the table”

Stay involved in the negotiation NEVER end negotiation in “no”. Make sure you always get either a “yes” or a “reason why not”. Don’t be afraid to ask for more time to consider the offer, “can I get back to you tomorrow, I want a package that works for both of us and that we are happy with”.

8. Don’t use ultimatums

If they present you with an ultimatum just ignore them, anything CAN change. Try to say something like “yes, I can but… as long as certain terms are met”.

9. They should like me MORE as a result of the negotiation

By being proactive and firm with your demands should actually support your case. Don't burn any bridges or offend anyone by inappropriately refusing an offer.

10. A smaller firm usually has a bigger salary / package range

There is little precedent if they don’t hire a large number of people, but range won’t necessarily be HIGHER but will be LARGER.

Use the information you have researched on the firm, location and your experience. Then pick a broad range and consider setting the top of your range 15% below true ambitions.

11. Leave at least a day to respond to an offer

Don’t rush the negotiation.

Take your time to think about the full package and how it compares to any other offers, if applicable. If necessary, create a spreadsheet of pro's and cons for each position. By just writing it down can make the correct choice more obvious.

I hope these tips are helpful for any current or potential architect salary negotiation.

For further reading on salary negotiations, applications, portfolios, interview preparation and more see The Complete Package below:

Thanks for reading, see also my posts on:

Want a Great Architecture Job? Don't Send a Resume

25 Things To Consider When Choosing An Architecture Job Offer

Good luck!

Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C

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