11 Best Cities for Architecture Careers in 2021

by
Kalina Prelikj
Looking for the best city for an Architecture career? This guide will show you which cities are best for pursuing your career as an architect.
11 Best Cities for Architecture Careers in 2021

Those who have built successful architecture careers didn’t leave anything to chance.

And by anything, we mean their location too.

In fact, many famous architects quite literally followed their dreams all the way to some of the best cities for architecture careers.

This is why we made a list of the 11 best cities for architecture careers, based on a combination of statistics:

  • Average salary
  • Job and education opportunities
  • Inspiration and benefits for architects
What do you think is the best city for an architecture career?
What do you think is the best city for an architecture career?

And a Facebook discussion inside the Women Architects Collective where we got 64 comments in just a few hours.

Obviously, this is a hot topic for architects. So let’s get started.

7 Best Cities in the US for Architecture

Map showing the annual architecture wages in the US
Map showing the annual architecture wages in the US

The US is full of great opportunities for Architects.

The average salary for an architect in the US is around $82,320.

That being said, there are cities in the US where the pay can go much higher than this average - although living costs in these cities would be much higher too.

Additionally, a lot of these cities also offer some of the best education and job opportunities for architects.

1 - San Francisco, California

What San Francisco is best known for?
What San Francisco is best known for?

Known as the land of dreams, California offers work opportunities for everyone, architects included.

And with its distinctive topography and unique architecture, San Francisco is definitely one of the best cities for architecture careers.

Architecture Average Salary in San Francisco

In terms of pay, San Francisco ranks significantly above the US average, coming in at $102,810 average pay per year.

However, you need to keep in mind that the cost of living in San Francisco is also the highest in the US.

Job and Education Opportunities

Over 500 active architectural firms are located in San Francisco, including prominent ones such as Woods Bagot and WRNS Studio

This means that there are plenty of architect jobs and opportunities available.
There are over 4000 open job posts in San Francisco currently listed on LinkedIn alone. 

Inspiration and Benefits for Architects

San Francisco will offer you plenty of inspiration, as you will be constantly surrounded by memorable buildings and landmarks.

For instance, the city is home to the Golden Gate Bridge, which is listed as one of the 7 modern architectural wonders.

2 - New York City, NY

What NYC is best known for?
What NYC is best known for?

We're moving on to the city that never sleeps, where many successful architecture careers were born.

Architecture Average Salary in New York City

The average annual pay in New York City is estimated at $99,300 per year.

As the financial hub of the US and the world, New York City has one of the highest numbers of architecture firms, often run by prominent architects.

Job and Education Opportunities

The city offers plenty of job opportunities and modern work circumstances.

In fact, the Big Apple is considered the home of many modern architects and famous firms, such as Trahan Architects and BIG Architects

With this in mind, it's no surprise that it is considered one of the best cities for launching architecture careers.

Aya Garcia Shlachter shares her thoughts about New York City
“So many opportunities to meet people, expand your network, and develop relationships. My business started and grew exponentially in NYC.”
- Aya Garcia Shlachter, CEO of MGS Global and Founder of Architect My Life

However, the work culture in New York City has its drawbacks too.

It often includes working long hours in a highly competitive environment, which can lead to a poor work-life balance.

Inspiration and Benefits for Architects

NYC captures different architectural styles from both modernist and contemporary movements and serves as inspiration for many.

Even famous architects such as Rem Koolhaas have referred to Manhattan as the biggest stimulus of his entire career in architecture.

Lastly, some of the most recognizable buildings in the world such as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building are located in New York City.

3 - Boston, Massachusetts

What Boston is best known for?
What Boston is best known for?

Architecture Average Salary in Boston

With an average of $95,580, Boston ranks decently high in terms of annual pay as well. 

Job and Education Opportunities

As many prominent firms such as William Rawn Associates and Touloukian Touloukian are settled there, Boston offers plenty of employment opportunities for architects.

And since Harvard and MIT, which are 2 of the best universities for architecture in the world, are located nearby, it is a great place to be for architecture students too.

Inspiration and Benefits for Architects

But these aren't the only reasons why Boston is considered one of the best cities for architecture careers.

As one of the oldest cities in America, it is home to buildings and structures built from the 17th-century to the present day.

This makes Boston a really good choice if you want to work on historic preservation projects. 

From colonial to modern brutalist-style buildings, architects will never be short of work and inspiration in Boston.

4 - Chicago, Illinois

What Chicago is best known for?
What Chicago is best known for?

Architecture Average Salary in Chicago

The annual salary in Chicago also ranks high, with an average of $88,100 per year.

Job and Education Opportunities

Today, the windy city offers many opportunities in terms of jobs, events, and project placement for architecture students.

Firms such as dSPACE Studio and Studio Gang are located in Chicago.

Additionally, the city hosts one of the most well-known international exhibitions, the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Inspiration and Benefits for Architects

Chicago became a center for innovation and architectural experimentation during the industrial revolution.

This made it a home to many buildings built by prominent modern architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright.

During the early modernist movement, Chicago was home to some of the first skyscrapers in the world.

Megan Nielsen Hegstad shares her thoughts about Chicago
Megan Nielsen Hegstad shares her thoughts about Chicago
“Chicago has a great architecture scene. I’ve not lived there but have worked on several projects there over the years and loved visiting.”
 - Megan Nielsen Hegstad, Senior Architect

If you are interested in early modernist buildings and want to live in a city with a large architectural community, Chicago is the right choice for you.

5 - Atlanta, Georgia

What Atlanta is best known for?
What Atlanta is best known for?

Architecture Average Salary in Atlanta

Atlanta is home to many different high-paying careers, including architecture as well.

In fact, the average salary of architectural managers in Atlanta is $150,030, ranking them alongside doctors and lawyers.

The average salary for architects ranks very high too, at an average of $98,650 per year.

Job and Education Opportunities

While this is pretty impressive, Atlanta doesn't fall short of education and employment opportunities too.

It is home to many firms, organizations, and universities, including the Georgia Tech College of Design, located just west of midtown Atlanta.

Additionally, renowned firms such as Gensler and Perkins+Will have offices there too.

Inspiration and Benefits for Architects

Although it is a relatively young city, Atlanta still has a distinctive skyline. 

Its most prominent buildings include the Bank of America Plaza and the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, which was the tallest hotel structure in the world when it opened.

6 - Seattle, Washington

What Seattle is best known for?
What Seattle is best known for?

Architecture Average Salary in Seattle

When it comes to architect jobs, Washington ranks decently high.

3 best cities for architecture careers within this state include:

  1. Seattle
  2. Vancouver
  3. Spokane

Architects in Seattle get an annual pay of $87,180 on average, while the highest pay can go up to $153,079.

Job and Education Opportunities

As the largest city in the US Pacific Northwest, Seattle offers a good living standard and plenty of employment opportunities.

It is a great place to be located if you want to explore the natural landscapes of the Northwest too.

Megan Nielsen Hegstad shares her thoughts about Seattle
Megan Nielsen Hegstad shares her thoughts about Seattle
“Seattle has a very active design community and is a nice mix of city/urban without being too big, and great access to nature.”
 - Megan Nielsen Hegstad, Senior Architect

It is also a good city for launching architecture careers, as prominent firms such as Olson Kundig and NBBJ are situated there and frequently are looking to hire. 

Inspiration and Benefits for Architects

Seattle has a flashy skyline consisting of many distinctive buildings such as the SpaceNeedle, which was built for the 1962 World’s Fair

It is also home to many buildings designed by globally renowned architects such as Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry, and Minoru Yamasaki.

7 - Dallas, Texas

What Dallas is best known for?
What Dallas is best known for?

Architecture Average Salary in Dallas

Compared to the other cities on this list, Dallas doesn't offer such a huge salary for architects.

While the average annual pay in Dallas is $83,180. 

Top-tier architects make much more than that.

Job and Education Opportunities

And since the city is continuously growing, it is a good place for graduates to start their architecture careers.
Global design firms such as HOK and 5G Studio Collaborative have offices in Dallas.

As a recent graduate, you will be sure to find work in the fastest growing city in Texas

Inspiration and Benefits for Architects

Even though the pay is not as high as in the other cities on the list, Dallas has other benefits that make it one of the best cities for architecture careers.

These benefits include a low cost of living and no income tax.

For instance, the cost of living in Dallas is 32.25% lower than living in NYC.

4 Best Cities for Architecture All over the World

Of course, not all the best cities for architecture careers are in the US. 

In fact, you can find more opportunities in the Urban Jungles all over the world.

So, if you are wondering what your options are outside of the states, we have 4 additional cities for you to check out.

1 - London, UK

What London is best known for?
What London is best known for?


It's no surprise that one of the best cities for architecture careers lies in the heart of the UK.

Architecture Average Salary in London

The average pay for architects is around $92,000. 

But, you have to keep in mind that London is very expensive.

However, as the leading financial center in Europe, it is certainly a place of opportunity too.

Job and Education Opportunities

That being said, you can find many job opportunities and interesting projects to work on in London.

You will find that many successful architectural firms such as Foster + Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects have offices there.

Inspiration and Benefits for Architects

You could say that London is a living encyclopedia of European architecture. 

In this city, you will find architectural styles from Georgian trends to Art Deco and Modernism.

You will also see some of the most world-famous landmarks such as Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, which are located in London too. 

2 - Doha, Qatar

What Doha is best known for?
What Doha is best known for?

Architecture Average Salary in Doha

With plenty of work opportunities and a solid monthly salary of $4,174.

 It's no surprise that Doha is one of the top choices for many architects.

Job and Education Opportunities

Due to its rapid urban growth, Doha also makes the list of best cities for architecture careers.

In fact, some of the most prominent firms such as The Ateliers Jean Nouvel and OMA have left their mark in the capital of Qatar.

Inspiration and Benefits for Architects

If you are interested in working on technologically advanced buildings and seeing interesting works of prominent architects, definitely consider Doha.

Another tempting thing there is that experience has little effect on income, so the entry-level position salaries are very decent too.

3 - Toronto, Canada

What Toronto is best known for?
What Toronto is best known for?

Canada, in general, offers great opportunities for architects, 

But Toronto is by far the best place for anyone in the industry.

Architecture Average Salary in Toronto

There is plenty of architectural work in progress and a promising average pay of around $93,000 which is very close to the national median of $95,000.

Job and Education Opportunities

The fast population growth and the favorable levels of public sector investments offer job opportunities for architects for both residential and public buildings.

Additionally, renowned firms such as Bortolotto and KPMB are based in Toronto.

The variety of work opportunities and the more than decent standard of living make Toronto one of the best cities for architecture careers.

Inspiration and Benefits for Architects

Throughout history, Toronto has embraced many architectural styles, from 19th century Georgian architecture to 21st-century postmodern designs.

And the practice of welcoming different architectural styles and movement still remains today.

4- Melbourne, Australia

What Melbourne is best known for?
What Melbourne is best known for?

Architecture Average Salary in Melbourne

Although Sydney is listed as Australia's financial center, Melbourne is one of the highest paying cities for architects with an average salary of $60,640.

And unlike Sydney, Melbourne has a distinctive design culture that doesn't necessarily rely on international "starchitects".

Job and Education Opportunities

Melbourne is the home of a strong and supportive architectural community.

A lot of its members have described it as a city that embraces the innovator, the dreamer, and the doer

Inspiration and Benefits for Architects

The city's architecture has Victorian roots, which nowadays is accompanied by many contemporary styles and impressive skyscrapers.

Additionally, prominent Australian firms including WMK Architecture and Hassell Studio have offices in Melbourne. 

Best Cities for Architecture Careers Depend on Your Personal Preference

Best Cities for Architecture Careers Depend on Your Personal Preference‍
Best Cities for Architecture Careers Depend on Your Personal Preference
“I think the best location is dependent on what you like and what drives you… also what type of architecture you want to practice and what culture you connect with.”
- Stephanie Fernandez, Design Project Manager

Each of the listed cities offers unique opportunities for architects in terms of community, jobs, and living standards.

But there are many other factors such as the local culture and the type of architectural work that you personally want to do.

The best city for you might not be the best city for anyone else.

What Do You Think?

This list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope that it can help you navigate through some of the best cities for architecture careers and figure out your next step.

While you are in the mood for job hunting, you can also take a look at Monograph’s job board to see which firms are hiring now.

Which city do you like the most? Is there one that really benefited your architecture career?

Feel free to leave a comment below.

About the Author

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