Using information collected from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the Hamilton Project at The Brookings Institution has created a set of interactive infographics comparing the lifetime earning potential of graduates of 80 majors. With so much debate over the earning potential of architects, the tool provides us with an invaluable insight into the long-range outlook for members of our profession, charting the both the total lifetime earnings of architects and their average earnings per year over a 42-year career.
Read on after the break for analysis of what the infographics tell us
The good news is that, despite all the noise about low wages, the median lifetime earnings of architecture graduates is above average for undergraduate majors, although not by much. The space above the architecture degree is occupied largely by every single engineering major, as well as many of the business, finance and accounting majors.
The bad news: compared to other construction industry degrees such as Construction Services or Civil Engineering, Architecture graduates lag significantly behind in earning potential. Here we see that across the entire spectrum of lifetime earnings, from the 5th to the 95th percentile, architecture graduates earn roughly the median income for college graduates.
The basic comparison excludes any graduates who went on to get a graduate degree. Therefore it is interesting to note that, when those with graduate degrees are included, the median earning potential of all majors shows a much more marked increase above the 70th percentile. This suggests that in architecture, the value of a second degree is not as high as in other careers, although it is not clear why this is.