Study Reveals US States with Highest Pay, Most Equality

  • 10 Jul 2013
  • by
  • Architecture News Editor's Choice
Surprisingly, Hawaii was revealed to have both a very high number of architects, and high levels of pay. Image via Shutterstock

Figures released last month by the National Endowment for the Arts offer telling insight into the architecture profession across the US, with a helpful breakdown of the representation of various demographic groups.

The data, collected between 2006-2010, reports the number of architects in each state and their race, gender, age and income. The data reveals which states have the highest/lowest income, the best/worst gender discrepancies, and also offer insights into the average age and races of architects, per state. 

Read more about what the NEA statistics reveal after the break.

The commonly held view that New York and California are the twin epicenters of US architecture is reinforced by the statistics, with the states sharing over a quarter of the nation’s architects between them (9.81% and 15.51% respectively). However, the survey also compares the number of architects in relation to population size, which uncovers a few surprises; while New York and California are ranked 4th and 10th in this category, Hawaii actually comes in at number 2, with Massachusetts at number 3.

The District of Columbia, included as its own data set, is also an interesting point of comparison as it is the only entirely urban entry. The number of architects in comparison to the population size is almost four times the national average, putting DC way out in first for this category. DC architects are also younger, better paid and more racially diverse than states which cover larger areas and contain a greater portion of rural communities.

Nationally, one in every four architects is female. While this is fractionally better than in the UK, it can hardly be considered progressive. Some states, though, are ahead of the curve: in Massachusetts, Maryland, Montana, and Delaware this number is around one in three. At the other end of the spectrum, Arkansas, Wyoming and West Virginia have one female architect in about every ten; Arkansas sets the low-tide mark for inequality at around one in fifteen (6.5% women).

A similar pattern emerges in the racial demographics – nationally around 80% of architects are white, and, with the notable exception of Hawaii (48.5% Asian and only 32.1% White), at least two architects in every three are White in each state. In fact 38 of the US’s 50 states are less equal than the national average of 80%; if it weren’t for the more diverse, populous states (California, Florida, Texas and New York), then the average might be much higher. Once again Arkansas and Wyoming take the spotlight as least equal, this time along with both North and South Dakota: 100% of architects in all four states are white.

In some places, the statistics describing the age of architects give a further dimension to the equality statistics: in Wyoming, for example, a third of architects are in their Sixties, with only 8.3% under the age of 40. In North Dakota a different pattern is emerging: 40% of its architects are under 40, in line with the national average, but there is not a single architect between 40-49. At the other end of the age range, an impressive 11.4% of North Dakotan architects are 70 or older.

Finally, the statistics on wages may prove useful to any architects considering a relocation. Interestingly, Mississippi seems a good state in which to start a young career, with not a single architect earning less than $25,000. Those wishing to earn big money might consider New Jersey, Hawaii, California, or Connecticut and avoid Vermont, Montana and West Virginia.

Image of Hawaii via Shutterstock user Lorcel

Cite: Stott, Rory. "Study Reveals US States with Highest Pay, Most Equality" 10 Jul 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • Barry

    Some irrelevant stats in there.

  • John

    Indeed. Further more it doesn’t reveal the numbers most tend to be worried about and that is if there is a gender wage gap and if so what that gap is. “The data reveals which states have the highest/lowest income, the best/worst gender discrepancies, … ”

    What is wrong with a fields population not having an exact 50% gender split. There are a number of fields both men and women vastly out number the opposite sex and in developed countries this has very little to do with any inequality and is mostly to do with peoples personal interests, abilities and goals. Is anyone of a particular gender being prevented from entering a particular field because of their gender? No one ever questions “undesirable” fields or fields that women out number men. Is anyone worried that miners, oil workers, sewage workers, heavy diesel mechanics, construction in general and so on are populated almost exclusively by men? Nope. How about the low population of men in fields mostly made up of women? Nope. The only concern is CEO’s, management, architects and the like. Only in positions seen as favorable is the question of gender split brought up to make it about gender when rarely is gender any significant issue these days.

    We have a lot of uninformed people running around declaring false or misrepresented numbers. In Australia a friend of mine was outraged that the starting salary for female architecture graduates was apparently 17.3% less than males. A number obtained from an article trying to grab attention. In reality the number that was quoted was the total income differential between men and women in the architecture and construction which is a useless comparison as it is comparing starting salary of different fields and roles. There is a spread of more than $20,000 between these roles. The Australian Institute of Architects published that the actual starting salary gender wage gap in 2011 was 1.6% and in 2012 was 3.3% with both genders now being paid more than previous years.

    How are we suppose to deliver positive change when people are running around ignorant claiming things that are simply not true. This also means that attention that should be given to areas of actual need are overlooked.

    • Rory Stott

      Hi John. Your concerns are understandable, and as always with statistics it is easy to misrepresent the true picture.

      Your first paragraph is entirely true, unfortunately the statistics in question do not reveal the wages with respect to gender so there is no way to comment on this.

      With respect to whether it is a problem that architecture does not have a 50-50 gender split, I would argue that this is indeed a significant problem. Recently in the UK, it was found that architecture students are split equally, yet the profession itself is split about 80-20, and the US seems to be in a similar situation. Women who initially wanted to enter the field are abandoning it, and whatever their reasons are, this shows that when faced with the reality of architecture practice, men see opportunity where women do not. This is not equality.

      When applications for jobs as a miner reach a 50-50 gender split I would happily put the same argument to the mining community.

  • pablo ortiz

    “Mississippi seems a good state in which to start a young career, with not a single architect earning less than $25,000″…? This sentence really call my indignation. Here in Florida a technician with less than 2 years of technical education in drafting or health field can make not less than $35,000 so how come an individual with a professional degree of 4 or 5 years could make not less than $ 25000? are you kidding on me? I don’t really know what’s going on our profession bat this is not looking any good.

  • Sarah

    I think a major part of it comes down to supply and demand. The same thing has happened in most design related fields, everyone wants to be a designer of one type or another. Another factor is that people with technical knowledge ie engineers are able to do everything an architect or designer can but with full knowledge of the structural, manufacturing and general engineering facets of it.

  • Chris

    Equality is used as a loaded term here: indeed the industry is statistically unequal. However, the fact that there are less women and minorities in the field does not indicate a “problem” or lack of “progressiveness”–I would argue the same for any career path.

    Simply put, architecture careers in today’s society (and throughout history) are more attractive to men. This is not to say women are any less capable as architects or designers–men simply chose this career path more often.

    There is a lesser percentage of minority races in the field because there is a lesser percentage of minority races in the United States.