“If you want an easy life, don’t be an architect” – Zaha Hadid
In one of her interviews, the above lines were framed by one of the starchitects, Dame Zaha Hadid. Her unparallel talent and magical words still resonate with the young architects. She believed that if you want a nine-to-five job and want to go back home relaxed, then architecture is not your den. Architecture is not just a profession; it’s a different lifestyle. The above-framed lines tell the bitter truth when a young student crosses the threshold between his intermediate school and the architecture college, which remains with him throughout his lifetime. From the long working college curriculum to the endless nights to meet the deadlines and from long meetings to the endless working hours at the office is what a part of it feels like.
In the five years of the academic curriculum of architecture, students slowly get familiar with the vastness of this field, the theoretical and the industrial side of architecture. From long design sessions to getting redos on every drawing, from seeing their sheets full of blood, sweat, and tears being torn down to getting your design copied by your batchmates, the student architects get so involved in the process that the sole traits of a typical architect get into their nerves automatically. For architects, design is not just a process; it involves multiple processes which, includes deep research, analysis, discovery, and exploration, which requires long- long hours, and that is why it is said that every line on an architect’s drawing matters as he has spent hours to deliver meaning to that single line. After all this training and hard work, what an architect gets paid as a fresher or an intern is very meagre. “Architecture compares terribly in a cost-benefit analysis with other professions” (Riscica).
On comparing the architect’s salary with other professions, the software engineers have an average wage of 5.17 Lakh with an educational expense of 5 Lakh; the data scientists have an average salary of 7.93 Lakh with an educational cost of 3-6 Lakhs, the chartered accountant has an average salary of 7.85 Lakh with the course fees of 1.9 Lakh, the lawyers have an average salary of 3.5 Lakh with the educational expense of 5-10 Lakhs (Jobted. in).
On the other hand, if we talk about an architect’s average salary, it is 3.92 Lakh and has one of the most expensive educations we could count on. If we talk about the Indian colleges, the average fees for the whole five-year course cost between 10 Lakhs to 15 Lakhs. This is nowhere comparable to the average pay scale of the freshers. After this much expensive and intensive study, the first question that comes to every fresher’s mind after joining the industry is “Why am I paid so little?”.
The flaw is not in education or business acumen. But we as architects love the process of design, freshers tend to do their initial freelance projects for free or on a very low fee as the main motive lies in the learning that they would gain. We as architects value the expression more than the compensation. But this has now become so exploited and has become a trend that the freshers are forced to join the industry with very less pay. With so much time and money invested in education, and gaining peanuts for a salary, the dilemma of why I am getting paid so less continues to become serious day by day.
It gets very easy for professionals to hire freshers and interns at a very low wage, giving them a false hope of getting exposed to new skills and techniques. With time the freshers start comparing their salaries with the IT professionals with huge salary packages which dives them into the trap of anxiety. Resulting in which most of them start practicing on their own, some of them switch their design fields and some of them questions their decision of pursuing architecture.
We as a part of this fraternity have to accept and spread this awareness that architecture is a slow process and it takes time for a person to make a strong foundation for himself if he wants to be stable in this industry, he has to move slowly and smartly to become certain at a point. But on the same hand, we also have to raise voices and fill up the loopholes that occur as disparity so that we could create an environment that is enthusiastic and motivates the young generation to not be afraid of stepping into the industry. Because architecture is not just a profession it’s an emotion to the architects it’s the field where a person sees his creativity coming out of the screens to the actual lands, it lets you feel your surroundings in a manner that no other field provides.
- Betsky, Aaron. (2022). Working (A lot more than) Nine to Five- With no Pay. Architect Magazine. Available at: https://www.architectmagazine.com/design/buildings/working-a-lot-more-than-nine-to-fivewith-no-pay_o [Accessed on: 14 April, 2022].
- Dickinson, Duo. (2017). The Uneasy relationship between Architects and Money. Common Edge. Available at: https://commonedge.org/the-uneasy-relationship-between-architects-and-money/ [Accessed on: 02 August, 2017].
- Riscica, Michael. 10 Reasons Why You Should Not Become An Architect. Young Architects. Available at: https://youngarchitect.com/why-you-should-not-become-an-architect/
- Ramtheerthkar, Shruti. Why Am I Paid So Little- The Fresher Architect’s Dilemma. Rethinking Future. Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/rtf-fresh-perspectives/a731-why-am-i-paid-so-little-the-fresher-architects-dilemma/
- Jobted. 2022. Average Salary and wages in India. Available at: https://www.jobted.in/salary.