Principal Architect

Job Description

Principal Architects serve as the leading architectural voice at their firms, guiding design projects for buildings and structures. They discuss requirements with clients, negotiate contracts, create building plans, incorporate building systems, collaborate with construction engineers, and report to clients. Principal Architects also oversee and often mentor other members of their firm, and develop and manage relationships with clients. The role is a crucial one and holds great responsibility.

Typical Duties and Responsibilities

  • Design and execute the strategic vision and plan for a firm’s direction and work output
  • Develop and maintain client relationships
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Help establish, coordinate, and implement a firm’s objectives and goals
  • Oversee and manage design and production work
  • Collaborate with team members
  • Oversee and mentor junior architects and construction engineers

Education and Background

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in architecture or a related field. Employers often prefer that candidates have a master’s degree, and five to 10 years of experience as an architect. Before practicing architecture in a jurisdiction, applicants must meet the requirements for licensure established by that jurisdiction.

Skills and Proficiencies

  • Strong leadership abilities
  • Keen attention to detail 
  • Experience with project management
  • Ability to define agency goals, and develop and lead teams to meet them
  • Knowledge of AutoCAD and all related drafting software
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills
  • Strong collaborative and problem-solving skills

Compensation

According to Payscale the median annual salary of a Principal Architect with

1 Year of Experience:

  • Orlando, Florida: $110,000
  • Tampa, Florida: $118,000
  • Jacksonville, Florida: $109,000
  • Miami, Florida: $105,000
  • Atlanta, Georgia: $115,000
  • Chicago, Illinois: $94,000
  • Houston, Texas: $95,000
  • Los Angeles, California: $105,000
  • New York City, New York: $139,000
  • Seattle, Washington: $110,000
  • Overall: $109,000

5 Years of Experience:

  • Orlando, Florida: $123,000
  • Tampa, Florida: $130,000
  • Jacksonville, Florida: $115,000
  • Miami, Florida: $132,000
  • Atlanta, Georgia: $130,000
  • Chicago, Illinois: $100,000
  • Houston, Texas: $102,000
  • Los Angeles, California: $125,000
  • New York City, New York: $147,000
  • Seattle, Washington: $130,000
  • Overall: $120,000

Similar Job Titles

Career Path

Becoming a Principal Architect typically requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in architecture or a related field, with a master’s degree and five to 10 years experience preferred. Before practicing architecture in a jurisdiction, applicants must meet the requirements for licensure established by that jurisdiction. To become a Principal Architect, a job candidate needs to demonstrate ability as an architect, but also the talent and drive to guide a firm’s vision and nurture its members to achieve that vision. 

Position Trends

As in many careers, those at or nearing senior levels in this field can be expected to wear leadership hats — including overseeing junior team members and playing the role of client liaison as needed — in addition to completing their own work. Principal Architects, while still architects, are often expected to take on management duties as well. 

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for Architectural and Engineering Managers (which can include Principal Architects) should grow three percent through 2028, slightly slower than average for jobs across all occupations. The employment rate in the same timeframe for architects as a general category is projected at eight percent growth, faster than average for employment across all occupations.  

Typical Hours

The typical work hours for a Principal Architect are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, generally in an office setting.  

Where You Can Find Jobs

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  • Career Builder
  • Glassdoor
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Monster 
  • Zip Recruiter

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