How much does a freelance architect earn in Germany?
Freelance architects commissioned by offices receive a gross salary of €55 to €65 euros per hour at the beginning of their professional life. Their wages increase during their career to €70 to €90. Generally, the more employees and freelancers work in an office, the higher the fee. The Chamber of Architects Baden-Wurttemberg has issued an official recommendation for freelancers' hourly wage: €90 per hour for office owners and €70 for graduate engineers, construction and surveying technicians. However, insurance, taxes and duties still have to be paid from these amounts.
Many freelance architects open their own offices. At first, they face financially challenging times: 44% of single-person offices had less than €30,000 in surpluses at the end of 2014. As is the case with architects' fees, however, these profits rise as the number of employees grows. In 2014, architectural firms with ten or more employees generated a surplus of €261,139 per owner.
What do the different industries pay?
Although 84% of architects in Germany are involved in the planning of buildings, this occupational group also includes interior architects (5%), landscape architects (8%) and urban planners (7%). Some combine several areas of work, such as city planners and architects. In the case of town planners, the salary curve is comparably high.
To what extent does the type of employer influence an architect's salary in Germany?
Anyone looking for a new job as an architect should consider the type of employer from a salary perspective. An architect employed in the commercial sector will earn on average almost €15,000 more than a colleague working in an architectural firm. This difference is noticeable right from the beginning of the career: The average junior architect in a planning office starts at €35,919, in the private sector at €45,556 and as a civil servant at €42,690 per year.
To what extent does job location affect an architect's salary in Germany?
Flensburg or Friedrichshafen? The work location chosen by an architect has a significant impact on their income. There is a particularly clear divide between east and west. Architects working in Leipzig will receive an annual salary which is, on average, €18,000 lower than that of their professional colleagues in Wiesbaden. In Hesse, architect's salaries are the highest at €61,040 per year. North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate trail some distance behind. Saxony, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia are ranked the lowest in terms of income.
How do earnings change with increasing professional experience?
Although graduates do not enter the profession with above-average salaries, the sector offers good prospects for development: Architects with over 20 years of experience will receive an average of 1.8 times the starting salary.
Which degree leads to which salary?
Former diploma courses such as building construction and architecture have now been replaced with the bachelors and masters system. Only the technical universities in Dresden and Kaiserslautern still offer a diploma course of study. Bachelor graduates are qualified to work in planning offices. However, as the Chamber of Architects only recognises four or more years of study as a valid vocational qualification, opportunities for advancement and earning potential remain limited. The majority of students therefore opt for a master's programme. Approximately 7% of architects currently working in Germany have a master's degree. Only 2.6% have a bachelor's degree. The proportion of graduates with diplomas is currently still over 90%.
The new degrees are lagging behind slightly in terms of earnings: When entering the profession, a graduate with a diploma will earn 1.1 times more than their bachelor and master colleagues. Over the next few years, the extent to which a bachelor's degree is gaining in value and whether master's graduates can catch up with the graduate engineers in terms of salary will become clearer over the next few years.
INFO BOX: What does the Chamber of Architects do?
Architects, garden and landscape architects, city planners and interior designers are among the legally protected professions in Germany. Only those who register with one of the sixteen federal state chambers are officially entitled to use their professional title. This ensures that training and quality standards remain at a comparably high level. As a professional organisation, the Federal Chamber of Architects represents the interests of its members in public and in politics, both nationally and internationally.
According to the most recent evaluation in 2015, a full-time architect earns €54,206 per year across all fields of activity and career levels. New entrants can expect an average of €27,895 as a starting salary. Those who assume management duties will also be rewarded in their pay slip: Managed architects earn an average of €44,373, while those with a management position earn €58,152.