Monday, January 9, 2012

The 2011 AIA Compensation Report: What are the job descriptions?

A commentor last week asked what are the different intern descriptions for the AIA Compensation Report.  Good question:

Intern 1: Full-time entry-level intern on the path to licensure with fewer than two years of experience; develops design or technical solutions under the supervision of an architect.

Intern 2: Full-time intern on the path to licensure with two to three years of experience; works from the design of others under supervision, and performs routine and limited architectural assignments.  Performs specific/limited portions of assignments using prescribed methods.  Under general supervision, works from the design of others and performs routine architectural assignments.  Limited judgment is required on work details.  Assignments may include higher-level work for training/development purposes.

Intern 3: Full-time intern on the path to licensure with three to six years of experience; works under direction of others, responsible for projects' technical design, provides planning/design/coordination consultation on large projects; reviews/approves conceptual designs.  Responsible for specific technical design aspects of an assigned project including investigation, evaluation, and recommendation of design solutions.  Performs assignments under direction with limited responsibility for design.  Provides professional architectural consultation in the planning, design, and coordination of large, complex projects.  Independently makes decisions on significant architectural design problems and methods.  Reviews and approves conceptual designs.  Carries out complex or novel assignments requiring the development of new or improved techniques and procedures.

From here, we get into architects and design staff.  For example, an Architect 1 is licensed and has 5+ years experience and "exercises independent judgment in evaluation, selection, and use of standard techniques, solves problems when encountered, and receives guidance on complex projects."  The description in the Compensation Report then says that an Unlicensed Architecture/Design Staff 1 is the same definition as Architect 1, just unlicensed.  Architect 2 has 8+ years of experience and has more knowledge, more responsibilities, etc., and is licensed; Design Staff 2 does the same stuff but isn't licensed.  Architect 3 has 10+ years of experience and even more responsibilities; Design Staff 3 is the same but unlicensed.

Just before I got licensed, I was more of a Design Staff 1: I was definitely exercising independent judgment on standard questions and techniques and asking for direction on more complex questions.  Getting licensed gave me a boost in pay along with a little less supervision--I didn't have to clear every single thing I did with my boss, just the larger stuff.  Nowadays, I'm an Architect 3.  

Knowing these job descriptions is helpful because these can be used to gauge how much responsibility you're taking on versus how many years of experience you have.  It allows you to standardize (or at least begin to define) your job description even if your boss or firm has not done so.  It also allows you to compare apples to apples better, either within your firm or between you and another firm.  


  1. hey is a staff architect equal to intern architect and does it have to have liscensed to get the title as staff architect

  2. Depending on the laws in your state (and I think they are all the same) in order to be any kind of "Architect", you have to be licensed. That means Intern Architect or Staff Architect. Some states may allow the term architectural intern, but some don't allow any apparition of the term architect in your title without being licensed as an architect.

  3. Is there a difference between a 'graduate architect' and an 'architectural assistant'? It seems like these are the appointments given to fresh MArch grads out there with seemingly similar job scopes and responsibilities. Very curious.