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Salary Guide: How Much Does An Architect Earn In Singapore

Architecture is a highly specialised field

An architect is the designer of a building; however, this goes far beyond just the building’s aesthetics. Before the design work begins, architects consider the client’s needs for the building, and do a site survey and sun studies. These take into account the natural elements, and how the building will need to be built in order to properly meet the client’s needs.

Aside from this, architects also take into consideration how the building is meant to be used by people, which means that a great deal of functional design thinking goes into the project, aside from aesthetic design. This generally translates into blueprints, models and renderings of various designs which go through iteration with the client until a satisfactory design is reached. Thereafter, the architect oversees the project through its construction phase.

Academic Qualifications

In order to become an architect, you must first obtain Master of Architecture from a university that is recognised by the Board of Architects Singapore. NUS and SUTD are the only local universities which have recognised degree courses which are recognised by the Board of Architects Singapore. The other recognised universities are overseas, with many Australian universities also on the list.

Most job postings requiring a Diploma in Architecture are looking for a drafter or architectural assistant, offering salaries between $2,500 – $3,500. This is a good option for architecture diploma holders to gain work experience before furthering their studies in university.

With a Diploma in Architecture, students can qualify for some advanced placement credits in NUS which exempts B(A) Architecture students from up to 40 modular credits, which is roughly equivalent to 1 year of study in NUS. Alternatively, students coming in from A-levels can join the course directly as well.

According to the Graduate Employment Survey in 2023, the gross median salary for Architecture graduates is $4,400 in 2022 with the data for 2023 being omitted due to small cohort size. Do note that this data is for follow-up graduates, which means that they took the survey after the completion of their practical training.

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Becoming A Registered Architect

A registered architect is more useful to the firm since they have the authority to sign architectural documents and make submissions.

Getting registered as an architect requires at least a Master’s in Architecture and 2 years working in the firm (with at least 1 year in Singapore) understudying an architect before they can qualify to take the Professional Practice Examination (PPE). After taking the exam, the candidate will also undergo an interview before they can be registered as an architect.

Job listings show architect job offers with estimated salaries of between $4,000 – $5,500.

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Career Progression

After 5 – 10 years of working with a firm, you can be promoted to a Senior Architect. Based on job postings on various job portals, it is estimated that a Senior Architect earns between $5,000 – $8,000.

Promotion beyond Senior Architect depends on the size of the firm. Typically, small firms may not have many people at different levels, however large firms may have some architects and assistants working under a Principal Architect for large projects.

Higher-ranking architects may not be doing much design work since their duties and job scope will be more geared towards project management as well as managing the architects under them.

Beyond Senior Architect, the pay varies widely since it depends on the size of the firm and the scope of projects which are handled by the firm. Partners in the firm may earn more especially since they may be responsible for bringing business in for the firm.

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Architects In Other Industries

Aside from designing buildings, there is some demand for architects in the game development industry. Architects possess many of the skills such as 3d design and rendering, along with some knowledge of how to design realistic buildings or landscapes that are period accurate. This leads to a career path towards becoming a game design developer.

At the time of writing, there were also job posts which accepted architecture diploma/degree holders into graphics designer or artist jobs. However, most of these job postings were also looking for junior architects or fresh grads.

In general, these job postings were offering between $2,500-$3,500. However, the job postings were looking for fresh graduates, with no posts looking for senior architects.

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Architecture Is A Very Specialised Field

A quick browse through forum posts shows that other job prospects are not easy to get with a degree/master’s in architecture. While there may be some overlapping skills in design and software, these skills are very specific to building design and built environment needs. While it may be possible for a large game studio to bring in an experienced architect, they will only be valued at the same level as an artist to the game studio.

While it may be possible to get a good salary higher up in an architectural firm, it is difficult for an architect to switch careers. Additionally, architects can work 60 hours or more especially during busy periods, which roughly equates to 12 hours per day for a 5-day work week. It is important for prospective architecture students to carefully consider if this is something they are really passionate about before embarking on it.

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