The 9 Best Countries For Architects To Find Work

  • 14 Jun 2012
  • by
  • Architecture News
Upper left: Oslo by Flickr User CC Peter Guthrie. Bottom left: "Hanoi Traffic" by Flickr User pheochromocytoma. Right: "Revolution Tower, Panamá City, Panamá" by Flickr User CC Chodaboy.

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

Last week, we decided to pose this question and crowd-source our readers’ intelligence for the answer. We received almost 200 comments from ArchDaily readers and Facebook fans all over the globe about the current employment opportunities, design culture, and wages in their respective countries. With many economies experiencing crippling Recession, and recent Architecture graduates suffering most, you’ve helped us generate a vital conversation.

Find out the 9 countries that made the cut after the break. Some may just surprise you…

#1. Norway

One of the few European countries to have crawled out of the Recession, Norway can boast explosive growth, low unemployment, and high wages. Add in the high level of English, and Norway would seem to be a unique opportunity for a young architect to get work and make money.

#2. Panama

A construction boom that puts architects in high demand, decent wages, and a good design culture make Panama a good choice for a young Architect starting out.

#3. Switzerland

#4. Brazil 

While other commenters suggested that wages are low and work visas hard to come by, Brazil offers many opportunities for a young architect to get his feet wet (especially if you have some rudimentary Portuguese in your pocket).

#5. Vietnam

#6. India

#7. Saudi Arabia

Consensus on Saudi Arabia seems to suggest that design culture is questionable, but wages and opportunities steadily rising (particularly in the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah).

#8. Australia (in spots)

Easily our most contentious country, Australia seems to have excellent opportunities is certain cities and absolutely none in others. One Facebook Fan suggested that while Melbourne is very slow, Brisbane and Perth are growing. Another commenter who worked in Australia said that while pay is good, acquiring a permanent Visa – and thus getting permanently hired by a firm – isn’t easy.

#9. China

China is a mixed-bag of architectural opportunities and challenges (check out today’s post by Guy Horton on China’s changing economy – and the shifts architects in China will have to ride-out as a result). The country is of course growing at an exponential rate, but commenters noted that the quality of design varies from firm to firm and language barriers can make for some difficult (if somewhat amusing) interactions. However, Shanghai and Hong Kong were suggested as your best-bets.

Cite: Quirk, Vanessa. "The 9 Best Countries For Architects To Find Work" 14 Jun 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • kora

    “his feet wet”??

    I wish your language was more open minded.


    • damien


    • JK

      Actually, this is grammatically correct. Ask Strunk or White. And don’t take it as sexist, because you will only stress yourself out.

  • Mathy Maca

    well, getting a job in China can also depend on your nationality. If you are neither European, American or Canadian. You will have a tough time.

    I got recruited for a Chinese firm by a head hunter and when they found out am African. they cancelled it. it didn’t matter that I had all my education in Europe.

    • from the “east”

      The same for Norway, maybe it is great place to be an architect, if you are Norwegian, well maybe Swedish, or if you come from any other “Western” European country, however if you come from “Eastern” Europe, you will be looked down forever. Sad truth.
      The same applies to other “great” working spots in “Western” Europe. Well the Swiss (their country nominated as the 3rd of the best) tend to be snobby about anyone who is not Swiss, so there is at least some “equality”….

      • kristine

        Have you tried? I have Eastern European background, and have worked several years in Oslo. No problem! The firms I worked for even had more foreigners than Norwegians, and they came for ALL over the world. It was really more a question of proving yourself than anything else…..That’s always though. Norwegian employers acknowledge the high working morals of many foreign countries.

      • Johnny

        Hah..unless you speak Norwegian, no chance. Sad, but very true. Norway is also a bit of a planning nightmare, very bureacratic and slow. Projects tend to be very small scale too..noone dares to take a plunge and create big masterplans which the country sorely needs. But what can you expect from a country that doesn’t acknowledge ‘masterplanners’ or ‘urban designers’? But I’m sure if you get in, you are pretty sorted..but it’s the hurdle..getting in.

      • peter s32

        i agree about switzerland. was there for 6 months (im from slovakia, arch. studies in vienna) and saw that ALL not-swiss (german, polish, slovak worked like hell), while the lokal some 4 days/ week). a friend from germany left erlier, not to live under poorness standards (under permanent working stress).

        im thinking about japan right now. does anybody have clue, how it is there..

    • Cazzaro

      the value of foreigners is that it looks cool in front to client to show someone from west ( white face ) as it represents welthy, international approach, attractiveness and
      hot stuff. To show african in front of client doesnt work this way – u would be put in the same group as indian, pakistani -poor people,
      trying get out of poor conditions from their own country. The same as if white guy goes to club in china – always get many girls, african will get
      mostly nothing…. Westerns are paid for face, suuperficial? yes- but thats life…. I live in asia, i know….

    • Cazzaro

      The reason why they didnt want you is that it looks cool infront of client to bring for meeting westeners ( white skin ) architect as white skin represents: international, richness, hot stuff and just look cool. While african seems more like indian- poor man trying get out of his poor country willing to work for little money. Same like if westener ( white ) comes to club in asia- he gets many girls, while african nothing!!!!
      Westeners are paid for their face, I would do the same if I am chinese firm- better to pay some one white then african for same money. U cannot judge them , if you hire receptionist, you would hire extra hot chick, or old granny if both of them can do the same job and salary is same…. Thats life!!! not everybody is lucky, you must work harder tto get there, good luck!!!!
      Or you ask for less money :-)

      • M. Howard

        These comments are foul, racist, sexist, insulting and should be removed. Is there no moderation on this site?? Appalling. The report is a load of rubbish too, based on poorly written comments and unfounded evidence.

      • Wen

        It’s fairly true M. Howard, not completely without basis. It’s a part of asian culture since low-income based communities tended to perform more menial work with more exposure to the sun thus having a darker complexion. Low-income based communities tend to have less education than privileged rich communities. Thus they tend to associate darker complexions with inferiority, which may be discriminative and unfair but that’s the general consensus.

      • JJ

        M. Howard maybe these comments are foul, racist, sexist…. etc, but it’s true. I have even worse experience in USA. With all story about democracy and freedom for foreign architect this is country in 19 century.

  • arte

    Brazil? LOL!!!!
    Only in your mind Brazil is good country.May be if you are the nephew of a mayor or the son of a politician.
    Architects do kitchens and bathrooms for their families or the become civil servants.
    Please review your list.

  • Viktor

    What about Russia and other fast growing countries from CIS?

  • Daniel

    I don’t know if I would list Brazil as one of the best places to be right now. I agree that things went well from 2008 to 2010, but it’s already slowing down. And keep in mind that Brazil isn’t Rio. Brazil is a lot bigger than that.

  • pep

    Nothing about Peru and Chile? even Uruguay?

  • salt

    what – no america???!!! SHOCKER!

    • EJ

      not a shocker at all: Since credit crisis started your country’s economy is in a free fall and the middle class (for most of us the most important employers, not everyone is lucky enough design skyscrapers for big corporations) are fiscally sqeezed out and have to take the hard hits for what the kapitalists on wallstreet did. Now the housing bubble bursted there is a surplus on houses. Not a great situation for any architect i presume.

  • pep

    Well, according to what i have read, in Panama you must be from there to work as an architect, because of very protectives laws…so directly it’s not a good place for foreing arch…