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 16 Sep 2014. <>


    • Thumb up Thumb down +6

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

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    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.

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      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”….

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        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.

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        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..

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        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.

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        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.

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    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.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +7

    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.

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      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.

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    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…

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    Vietnam… is clearly a joke.
    I live in this country for more than three and a half year and the architecture/construction market/sector is now facing its worst crisis ever… and Vietnam has no “good design” culture yet.
    Moreover, it is one of the worst place to invest at the present moment if you follow the international advisors, and so the sector will not rise again very quickly.

    The fact that you did not mention London, Singapore and USA+Canada and that China is only #9 is quite strange as these are three areas from where I received the most job opportunities.

    To base an article on comments is also not really professional. You should mix it with facts & data from world organizations.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +3

      i couldn’t agree more. There’s no way of telling how true this list is.

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    One might want to cross reference with the relative social and political environment before packing. Why follow the herd?

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    Vietnam? yes, I am a Vietnamese architect who is working overseas. Vietnam is emerging now and in fact it will be developing fast next decade. If you want to explore your own businesses in Vietnam when you are young and become your own boss fast, its time to come to Vietnam to work, learn local experience then open your firm. Because the salary for local architects in Vietnam is cheap, local architects are very skillful about software or technical and local developers prefer foreign architects. Anyway, nice to share my experience here, even I work overseas but I have plan to go back to Vietnam in the future because I see many potential chances. Glad to share with architects all over the world about works, jobs, friendships, opportunities,… in Vietnam by dropping me an email to

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    Oh Great, lump China and HK in together. It’s like comparing New York and Mexico in terms of building codes etc.

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    @ KRISTINE: When you say “East European background”, I guess that means some of the countries which recently (2004-) joined EU. Am I correct?
    It is almost impossible for any architect from East Europe, but out of EU to get a job in Norway.
    They simply do not want to be bothered with additional paperwork.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    My experience from Norway is that it was architects paradise back in 2006, one didn’t even need to search actively in order to get a job. But they got more cautious with the crisis (even if they don’t have any crisis themselves) and since 2008 it’s not the same easy any more.
    Only 3 of the 12 newly graduated students of the international MSc. in Sustainable Architecture at NTNU got a job in Norway, as far as I know (and they all tried both during the studies and now).

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    Thank you for the reply Oceana.
    By these “international graduated students” you include people from out of the EU, and AUS/NZ/Japan/China/USA/Canada?

    Those three you mentioned, do they speak Norwegian?

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      George: yes, there were people from 10 different countries, like Italy, Germany, Serbia, Norway, Latvia, China, Iran, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Nepal. And only 1 speaks Norwegian.
      I just think that it’s wrong to put in nr.1 of this ranking a country where it’s easy to get a job as an architect only as long as you’re a newly graduated Norwegian or EU student that speaks Norwegian.
      That really limits the number of candidates…

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    I agree on that. Norwegian language, is a mandatory. Even in case when they do not state in job ad, they are looking for Norwegian speaking person, they do tell you that when you call them.
    Really, really strange thing. I was on interships in Vienna and Rotterdam, and on both places there were foreigners, without the knowledge of both German nor Dutch, and they still worked there for some time.

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      You should move to the moon. You might like it there..

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    Whatever you see in China in 90s that what will happen to Vietnam in next decades. It is moving fast, even the real estate market now is bad due to supply- demand and finance but I believe that it is recovered soon and there are many chances in Vietnam. Like you want to be your own boss in Singapore, Australia, US,… its difficult now but if you come to Vietnam to work, earn experience about local market then become your own boss, you just need 200-300usd to registered a company in 1-2weeks, rental for office is cheap, accommodation is cheap, setting up fee for an office is cheap,… If you hv long term staying in Vietnam, why not get married with a Vietnamese girl. Let you know Vietnamese girls are faithful, skillful,family minded… as “nice” as food. Joking but I would like to make friends with overseas architects then we could be partners in Vietnam later next few years. Feel free to drop me a line at or facebook: vinh99vn. Best regards,

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    Currently here in Hong Kong…looking for work in South East Asia….China has a lot of work, yes…but they don’t employ just anybody. firms mostly want senior managerial staff or internships on a peppercorn salary….

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    im an architect with one year of experience in UAE and i want to apply for ajob in nprway how can i do that !?

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    Panama is an amazing place to work, no matter where you are from you will be considered exotic just because you are not Panamanian, and it is not looked down upon, but the other way around. We Panamanians love people from all over the world, and the construction boom is still going, but typologies are now shifting, not so many residential any more, but more mixed and commercial used buildings to cater all that people living in the apartment buildings. With more than 40% of the people in Panama living in the capital and only 1% of them studying architecture, you can be sure there will always be place for architects here. I am a Panamanian architecture student living in Copenhagen.

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      I do not suggest Turkey, a big crises expected in construction industry, plus foreign architects work usually illegally without insurance+low salaries.

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