What’s the Best Country for Architects to Find Work?

From upper left: “Chicago Thaws Into Spring,” “Bustling Beijing,” “Approaching London” © Flickr User CC Stuck in Commons

Where in the world, as a young architect, would be the best country to find a job in an architecture firm?

In Europe and the United States, has placed Architecture – and Architects – in crisis. However, none have been more affected than young graduates: a report in January reported that, at just under 14%, Architecture Majors can “boast” the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

But surely there is somewhere in the world where the situation isn’t so grim? This is where you come in. When we crowd-sourced the question: “How Much Does an Architect Make An Hour?” the response from hundreds of ArchDaily readers across the globe provoked fascinating conversation and debate. So, as phrased by Rafael Berges, a concerned Architecture student pondering his fate come graduation day:

Where in the world, as a young architect, would be the best country to find a job in an architecture firm?

Keep in mind:

1. The highest salaries for beginning architects
2. Low unemployment for architects
3. High demand for architecture
4. Great design culture

And let us know in the comments below.

UPDATE: See the results here

Cite: Quirk, Vanessa. "What’s the Best Country for Architects to Find Work?" 07 Jun 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 02 Aug 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=242054>

260 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down +21

    The internet, no wait.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +8

    If we are thinking about good design culture, English speaking, pay and quality of life, I think Australia is a great option. I worked there back in 07 and really enjoyed it and I’m planning on returning. There’s a great appetite for sustainable design and it has some of the worlds largest emerging economies on it’s doorstep.

    :-)

    • Thumb up Thumb down +9

      I have watched my career dissolve since late 2008 and the careers of some very successful Architects and associated professionals such as Drafters, CAD experts likewise dissolving. If Australia is a good place for Architects at the moment then we are in a lot of trouble worldwide.

      • Thumb up Thumb down +7

        Well said Eric. Australia is ok but by no means great. There is very limited new work now occurring in Australia and with a fresh load of grads coming out of uni every year it makes getting a job even more harder. Developers hold all the power (cant blame them) and they know it, they play architects off against each other to get the best design and service at the absolute cheapest price, resulting in employees carrying out copious amounts of unpaid over time on feasibility studies with ridiculously short time frames in order to protect their jobs. Since all the government funded BER work has now dried up governments are investing money else where so private developers are the only people injecting money into the construction industry. With limited new jobs surfacing each month employers have the power to acquire the services of highly skilled architects at cents on the dollar of what salaries were prior to the GFC and the introduction of revit is now an essential component for one’s cv to be even considered prior to even obtaining an interview with regards to getting a job. Many architects share a similar view of the shear disappointment that the profession has become post late 2008.

      • Thumb up Thumb down +1

        I don’t really see how personal limits can determine the possibilites a country offers.
        I am only 22 and I studied in Switzerland, I sent my CV when I was a 2ND YEAR student for some internship places and i got tons of offers from Australia, all around 2500 AUS $. If that is not great for a starting architect I don’t know what is.
        Then again, if you people are not willing to update your skills and want to whine about how unfair is that there are new technologies you don’t know how to use, well guess what?? IT’S YOUR PROBLEM
        Do you think surgeons whine when they tell them there is new technology they have to start using to enhance the quality of a procedure? NO, THEY DO IT.
        So if you’re ass is too heavy to go take a REVIT course (which for a CAD user is absolutely elementary) then just shut up and accept you are not willing to do what you have to.
        You could be the best architect in the world but if you use dated technology your efficiency will always be low. If Paulo Mendes da Rocha and Fumikiko Maki were cast aside because they took too much time on their projects (they very rarely use a computer), I guess you may figure out why you are failing.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +8

    Colombia is a good place to get a job. I’ve heard of cases about Spanish and other latin american archtiects moving here because of the job market. I started working as an architect even before I got my license. The thing down here is, the pay is low. A young architect in a mid-sized city like mine can make about $600 US dollars a month, and that’s way too low. However, all the people I went to college with have jobs, and that’s a good thing. I don’t make $600 anymore but that’s how you get started. Panama, being our neighbor, has a lot better market for arhictects. Better pay, better design culture, and a high demand for architecture.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +3

      Colombia has a market, but everything is politics there. you need to know people to get into a firm or getting a project. The mentality is to hire someone who has contacts not someone with talent.

      also a very conservative market. a lets make the same stuff as in the last project, we made money out of it mentality.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      The well re-known projects in Colombia are typically socially oriented. Only few firms are involved in the public sector which generally allows for higher commissions. Thus if you end up working on your own or with a small firm, chances are your projects will be financially limited and so will your bank account. If however you have little interest in the money and more in making an impact and working with brilliant people I highly recommend it.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Hi Nico, I know this is an old post but I hope you will respond. You said that an Architect might start at $600 US. What is the cost of living like there? I mean what would an inexpensive small house cost? What about rent in an one bedroom apartment? Thanks

    • Thumb up Thumb down -1

      I bet the pay is great in the Bahamas though, right? I’d definitely work there, given the chance.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +12

    I’m a young architect from Spain… Two years ago I moved to Bogota Colombia. I’m working in a young office and I’m definitely happy with the decision, good job, good salary and better expectations!!

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +4

    I would think the cities being built in Saudi Arabia would be a great place to get experience. I can’t speak to the design culture, but they’re building cities from scratch there and are very ambitious about growth and development. Pay is good.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +3

      Totally agree, it is even a great country to design contemporary architecture. Since the general public’s taste is finally shifting to the modern side. That is being helped by a growing number of young Saudis who have lived abroad and want to westernize their living conditions…

      • Thumb up Thumb down +6

        Ann, I work as a junior architect at design office in Saudi Arabia. While preston is absolutely correct that there’s no shortage of construction and mega residential projects here and pay is good, you may face another problem however. Local or foreign women in design offices working as anything other than interior designers in this country is almost unheard of. While you may find a good paying job here, be prepared to face the same restrictions that all women face here more or less. You would have to apply to large multinational companies such as Aramco, Aecom, Gensler, etc. I also highly suggest looking for employment in the surrounding Gulf countries such as Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Oman. They tend be less restrictive and socially conservative than the Saudis. Good luck.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    In Asia, where they have the money to build and have a high demand for it.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down +17

    Right now, Italy is one of the worst places to find a work. The recent recession is still hitting hard, and the bond between University, industry and professionals is very, very, very weak.

    It’s not so uncommon to find people working in architectural firms to be underpayed and with short-term contracts, especially for young folks like me that recently graduated.

    I am lucky enough to have find a temporary occupation abroad in Germany, and I have experienced that the environment in general is really different, much more work-oriented.

    Right now, I’d say Germany, USA, Canada – basing my opinion on my experiences.
    I’d be likely to include U.K., but I’m not totally aware of the situation right now.

    by the way, can someone tell me something about the work situation both in UK and USA?
    Can someone tell me how a PhD is “seen” around the world?

    unfortunately, when facing italian firms/industry .. if you have a PhD you’ll always be an “academic”, too overqualified to work.

    #sadness

    • Thumb up Thumb down +2

      In UK the situation is worst. Some times poor graduates are working for free just to get experience. I have studies in UK and tried working their. I could’nt work for free because of the living expenses. yes if the firms are doing projects in UAE,INDIA or other developing countries then you get paid well. There are 600 people applying for 1job so by this you can think about the situation and your chances of getting a job. USA is kind of an open market – the development is bit still but however you get chance to work. Canada, New Zealand are the developing countries now and got great opportunities. Architects are at the top of the list of need in these countries. Germany and Australia – they are great if you get the permanent residency otherwise you have to struggle for jobs a bit. opportunities look bright from outer world but when you step in you get to know whether you have taken a correct or wrong decision. But better take a risk

      • Thumb up Thumb down +1

        Hi Pooja

        Canada is very restrictive about which architectural degrees it accepts. Basically, you will arrive and not get a job because the industry doesn’t accept any degrees outside Canada and some US degrees. It is not a good country for foreign architects (or foreign professionals in general) to be taken seriously. My wife is Canadian and I’ve tried working there. Now we are in Australia. Not much better here.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down +6

    In Brazil, Pernambuco, I achieve about $25,00 per hour, as young architect (I’m 25 years old – 2 years of experience since I graduated).

    • Thumb up Thumb down +2

      Hi Felipe,
      I’m an Austrian architecture student and I would like to do an Internship in an office in Pernambuco. Can you tell me some good offices here, where I can send my portfolio?

      Muito obrigado,
      Thomas

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      hi filipe, can u tell me your e-mail, I would like to ask u some questions about this city and architecture..I’m an Architecture student : )

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      hello this is Maria,
      I am Italian
      I am a dynamic and ambitious architect with five years experience.
      but I failed to grow in recent years
      I would like to know info about jobs
      regard
      Maria

      • Thumb up Thumb down +2

        Hi Maria . you would try in any of the Middle east countries like U.A.E . also try to applying in Canada, Australia, New Zealand. at present I am working in one of the middle east country called Oman , do not stop trying , update your CV and portfolio and start sending today itself . good luck

    • Thumb up Thumb down -1

      Hi Felipe,

      I’m a part 2 architect from the uk and was interested in going to Brazil to look for work. I would like to ask you some questions about the best way to look for work.

      Thanks

      Nadia

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Hi Felipe,

      I’m a part 2 architect from the uk and was interested in going to Brazil to find work. I was wondering if I could possibly ask you some questions about the best way to go about doing this.

  9. Thumb up Thumb down -27

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +12

      Adam, You are dreaming! $70K for a graduate with a Masters Degree, what planet are you on? An Architect in Melbourne with 10 years expeience might be able to earn that amount but a graduate with no experience won’t. The jobs market has flattened considerably since Christmas. There are still jobs but from what I’ve seen there’s 50% less jobs advertised than this time last year. Good luck with your studies. Hopefully things will have turned around when you graduate.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      !!! Definitely not Melbourne! I have been searching since January (having completed my degree in November 2011) and have had no luck whatsoever! People are losing there jobs here, absolutely no hope for a graduate AT ALL! I have been told to expect a max of $45,000 AUS package including super annuation etc. Perth sounds like things are still booming – people have lots of money from the mines so are still forging ahead with new building.

      • Thumb up Thumb down +1

        I am an Architect from India and have more then five years of work experience.

        I have also heard that, Australia is good place to work for experienced architects. But, i am not sure, will they take you even if you do not have study experience over there.

        I am looking forward to apply for Visa to have chance of working at Australia. Any views guys?

      • Thumb up Thumb down +5

        Al

        Keep trying mate, I finished my bachelors in melbourne in november 2011 too. I sent my resume and folio to 60 practices, this produced 4 interviews and after 3 and a half months I found a job.

        4 months into the job and i’m now on $44k, which isn’t a lot, but is plenty for me :)

        I find a great design culture here in Melbourne too! Fantastic architecture on you doorstep, and there’s plenty of talks and exhibitions either run through the institute or the universities.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      Like the other two said, you can expect to earn 45,000 max as a Graduate Architect. 70K is a long way down the road. You don’t even earn that much starting out as a junior project manager.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +2

      70,000 as a graduate architect in australia is wishful thinking.

      it’s more like 50,000 to 60,000.

      but yes Australia is a great place to start your architectural career.

    • Thumb up Thumb down -1

      Dude I’m an architect in Sydney…In your dreams if you can start off 70K, you need at least 8-10 experience as an ARCHITECT… straight out of school you should expect between 35 – 45k in Australia and maybe after 3 – 5 years 45 – 60k mark if you’re lucky….

    • Thumb up Thumb down +2

      You must be joking! The situation in London is desperate right now! The pay is good, if you can find a job!

      • Thumb up Thumb down +1

        If the situation in London is that desperate right now…can you pls tell me why if you search in the sites bespoke,reed,jobstoday,adrem, ribappointments ..etc are plenty of architects positions?? I’m really just wondering cause I heard the same thing , that there is a big % of unemplyed architects there. But in internet seems like there are many open positions.

      • Thumb up Thumb down +2

        The situation is desperate in london because the market is flooded with graduates, and there are architects with experience wiling to work for less. who would employees choose? a graduate who knows nothing or an architect who can run a job successfully and independently? moreover the 40-50 odd architecture British schools that produce fresh graduates every year, most of whom head to london for a job, are adding year on year to the pool of graduates looking for that precious position. it is also the most popular city in europe and one of the most popular in the world for design based practices. but when there is no money, who will be hiring?

        its difficult to be an architect – if you are unemployed. But there are people getting jobs out there. Or alternatively stay in your own country, market yourself for a client and build you own project. start in your mothers basement!

    • Thumb up Thumb down +3

      I consider London almost impossible. It’s true that u have job offers, but maybe they are around 10 new per day when you have probably thousands of people applying for them. The requirements are extremely high, you have to have working experience in UK to be consider, at least two years in most of the cases, apart from knowing around 123859 different software’s. So you can find a job if you are a: very lucky!!! b: really good contact or c:you are superman/woman!!!

  10. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    I am an american and traveled to australia trying to land an entry level architecture job last year… There were a few openings and the pay is excellent, however, being a foriegner firms really dont want to invest in hiring you. (which i cannot blame them) I would recommend traveling there anyways because they offer a 1 year work/ holiday visa and you can make a ton of money picking tomatos and paying down some of the loans (and having a great time).

    conclusion- i returned home and found work at a firm in the upper midwest and make around 18/hour, still not where it used to be, but looking up.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      Thanks for posting this, I am a student about to make the post graduation jump to a job. Nice to see this, and other people’s posts

  11. Thumb up Thumb down +9

    definitely not portugal, we have great architects, but it doesn’t pay up. an intern makes about 2,5€ an hour. And the construction is complettely stopped, No funding no building, no architec…

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      I have seen in German news television about Portugal and its problems, especially for architects. They talked about people leaving to the former colony ANGOLA. After their war the country now sells oil an diamonds, creating a huge boom in the capital Luanda. Young architects with the ability of speaking Portuguese can earn about 5.000 US$/month.

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        Yes true ANGOLA is saving a few arquitects, also outsorcing from Portugal, but also angola is very very expensive to live and with the flood of people arriving salaries decreased a bit. Also you have to live in this kind of closed rich housing places while a lot of local people is starving in the other side of the city

      • Thumb up Thumb down +5

        What???? I speak Portuguese!!! Off to Angola!!

    • Thumb up Thumb down -1

      I have seen in German news television about Portugal and its problems, especially for architects. They talked about people leaving to the former colony ANGOLA. After their war the country now sells oil an diamonds, creating a huge boom in the capital Luanda. Young architects with the ability of speaking Portuguese can earn about 5.000 US$/month.

      http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/weltspiegel478.html

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        Hello Claus

        Well about the Angola situation I must say that it’s really hard to get into Angola if you don’t have the second nationality (angolan). Many Portuguese have it so for them it’s easier to go there. Angolans don’t want to hire Portuguese (there’s actually a law that defends the angolization of labour market). Even ethnic Portuguese who have been born there are now getting a tough time from the Angolan authorities to ask for their second nationality.

        The work schedule is 12 hours a day and there’s massive corruption meaning that unless you’re hired in Portugal, you better be rich to go there and find for a job. Asking even for a tourist visa takes about 6 months in average. Then you have to be very careful and demand your payment to be done in Europe and have allways someone make sure you’re getting the money on time. Angolans often take a whole lot of time paying their debts. Many construction companies invest in partnerships with the Angolans and end up bankrupt. Even exporting stuff there is one of the hardest things to do properly once again because of the massive corruption of goverment officials. Then (if you’re white) you better be prepared to receive a whole bunch of racist treatment. (Yes there are racist people in Africa too, so no trolling ok?).

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Norway has a lot to offer; a capital in explosive growth and low unemployment.

      • Thumb up Thumb down +1

        The prominent language is norwegian, but most norwegians speak english fluently. I dont think getting a visa should be a problem.

        You can check this website for information and application: https://selfservice.udi.no/en-gb/

      • Thumb up Thumb down +2

        a friend of mine went there and looked for work (architecture and product design) for three months in which time he had no replies from the companies he contacted. it’s a great place for architecture but it’s a closed market. no place for outsiders.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Norway is a great place for architects. The country has been quite invisible for a long time and now is starting to say something about architecture. No problem for EU citizents to get a visa, a bit more complicated if you are not. I have been 6 years working in the country now and it’s fine.

      Almost everybody speaks good english, but you may find people who doesn’t want to at the office.

      Good salary, not so much preassure at work and “easy” to get a certain autonomy. On the other side, the construction details and architect’s role in the building process are not the best. And you have to get use to the norwegian way of being.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Hello kristine, what happens if you dont know Norwegian, can one still manage to get a good job by only knowing english ?

  13. Thumb up Thumb down +4

    switzerland with no doubt! very good quality of architecture in general, perfect place to learn building site+concept, and you get paid for what you’ve done… but easier if you speak german.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      and speak french too… is there a chance for english-italian speaker as me?

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        Hi Thuy Duong,

        There are some French firms in Vietnam. May I know are you Vietnamese Itlaian?

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      I just finished my bachelors in America and speak both french and english fluently. What are my chances?

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      And for a speaking portuguese, french, english? is it more difcult for people with 7 years of experience?

    • Thumb up Thumb down -2

      Condivido il tuo parere e sinceramente mi sto attrezzando per fare un’esperienza di lavoro in svizzera. Non sai mica indicarmi qualche contatto considerando che non parlo tedesco ma me la cavo un pò con l’inglese.
      Grazie

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Hi, I am a final year student from Delhi,India.will be done with grad aftr 3 months and looking for jobs in abroad.I would like to work in switzerland.Can you please suggest me good firms for young architect???and can i send my resume to you aswell?

  14. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    Is Australia really the mecca everybody is making it out to be?
    Not long ago there was a segment on the news on how architects return home after failing to find jobs in bureaus there …

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think CR because right now a lot of great architecture come from a generation around their 30′s and younger. Great example of that is Benjamín García saxxe . I Believe that this is the time for latinamerica architecture to rise!

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Toma, do you think a qualified architect from EU with 5y experience (french & english fluent, prior academic experience from Lyon and short work experience from Paris) would get a job in Paris? I’ve heard there were not that many offers for jobs in architecture / even more difficult for a foreigner?

  16. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    Hi. I’m from South Africa and I’d like to say South Africa but I can’t speak broadly as I have worked for the same architect since my first year when I had just started out as part time. South Africa is having a boom also in the residential market so it’s worth considering but my colleague told me that Australia was a sure winner for job opportunities.

    Can somebody tell me about France because i’d like to do my Honours in France and work part time during holidays? I’m also looking into Canada and I’m not sure of the process there either. Can anyone help me? Thank you.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      it’s a stabil market, but very conservatif with designing methods and not easy to make a step further after (in that order the netherlands are way better)
      also a lot competition to get a job, because a lot of people of south-europe try to get a job here (or in the netherlands)

  17. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I just graduated from a Canadian University and landed a job in Ontario for 4 months before I head back to the same University for a Masters degree. My first solid firm job, no real experience and a hope to work here after my second degree; 20CAD an hour. Firm is big into community and health, but breaking into residential as well.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Hi Cloud,
      can you give me your email id?? I just would like to speak to you. I am an architect with more than 8 years of experience.. have worked in few countries around the world.. and now..been working in South Africa and Dubai for the last 5 years. I am doing few freelance works in here.. but been actively looking to move outta here i as I dont have much solid works here. :)

      • Thumb up Thumb down +1

        Can you advice how one could find work either in Africa or Middle East?

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      hi Cloud

      Hi

      My name is Muna Chinganya. I am an international student currently studying a three year bachelor of architectural design at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia. I will complete my studies in June 2014. I have also obtained an advanced diploma of building design (architectural) from Holmesglen institute of Tafe, in Melbourne, Australia. I am interested in studying my Master of Architecture degree at one of the canadian universities after I complete my current bachelors degree. I would like to know how are the Masters programs like in canada and how hard is it to find a job there.

      I am looking forward to your reply

  18. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    It depends on where you are in Australia as to the job opportunities available. The country seems to have hot and cold spots that change every few years without maintaining what you could call a standard growth across the country. So to say australia is good is sort of accurate but there has been a recent economic slow down and firms in my home town of adelaide are still struggling so do some investigating before you go to try and avoid ending up in the ‘wrong’ place as it is a big country!. Also I think that estimate of $70,000 before tax is might be a little ambitious if you have not had much experience even if you are on the east coast.

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