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Do Top Architects Get Better Pay Than Doctors?

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Architects and doctors have very little in common as far as their education, work and remuneration are concerned. Architects usually have bachelor's or master’s degrees, design and build residences and commercial buildings. Doctors have the equivalent of a doctorate -- they spend at least 11 years in training -- perform surgery, diagnose and treat and manage disease and injury. Although even top-paid architects generally earn less than physicians, industry or location might affect income in each profession.

Specialties and Salary

Physicians can be general practitioners or specialize in a variety of areas, such as surgery, anesthesia or internal medicine. Specialization affects income, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Podiatrists, the lowest-paid of all medical specialists, earned an average annual salary of $132,470 in 2011, according to the BLS. Anesthesiologists, the highest-paid of all medical specialties, earned $232,830. In between were pediatricians, at $167,640, psychiatrists, at $177,520, and obstetricians and gynecologists, at $216,760. The average annual salary for an architect, however, was $78,690.

Industry and Salary

The choice of industry can affect salaries, according to the BLS. Pediatricians and podiatrists have the lowest earnings of all medical specialties. Pediatricians who worked in colleges, universities and medical schools earned an average annual salary of $105,210 in 2012. Podiatrists who worked for the executive branch of the federal government earned $103,620. Even the lowest-paid anesthesiologists, however -- those who worked in colleges, universities and medical schools -- earned $131,890. Architects who worked in specialized design services earned $96,370, and those who worked in computer systems design and related services earned $119,610.

Location and Salary

Location is another factor in salary for both physicians and architects, according to the BLS. Nevada was the state with the lowest-paid pediatricians in 2012. Nevada pediatricians earned an average annual salary of $122,980. Podiatrists in Texas had the lowest earnings, with an average annual salary of $102,350. The lowest-paying state for anesthesiologists was Mississippi, with an average annual wage of $155,940. In comparison, even the highest-paid architects -- those in California -- earned $92,000 in 2012.

The Bottom Line

Generally, the best-paid architects earn less than the lowest-paid physicians. In certain circumstances, an architect might out-earn a physician. For example, an architect who was in the 90th percentile of earnings, at $118,230, could earn more than a physician who worked in a college, university or medical school. Even the highest-paid architect, however, earned less than most physicians in 2012, according to the BLS, and many earned only half the wage of the higher-paid specialties, such as anesthesiology.


Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

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