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Architects Salary: The Best Way To Request A Pay Raise

Today we’re looking at the Architects Salary and how to request a pay raise. We’re going to share a proven (research based) strategy that will show you When, How and What to ask for to achieve a pay raise!

Let’s start by taking a look at the current state of the industry. 

Architects Salary: current situation:

The average pay increase for employees in the United States is predicted to be approximately 3.1 percent this year. That’s according to the Annual Salary Increase Survey issued by professional services firm Aon, (Annual Salary Increase Survey, Aon, Accessed 9/17/19).

However, this does not mean you’re guaranteed a pay raise!

According to a recent survey issued by PayScale, (“How to Ask for a Pay Raise”, Accessed 9/17/19) only 37 percent of employees actually ask for a pay raise! 

Yes, that’s right, approximately two-thirds of all employees have never asked for a pay raise from their current employer! 

Are you one of these people? 

So, remember it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease! 

If you want a pay raise, be prepared to ask for one!  

So let’s get prepared by looking at the best time to schedule your meeting to request a pay raise.  

(Note: To help you with your design fee negotiations we’ve created a FREE Fee Proposal Mini-Series. To learn more click on the image below):

What time of year is best?

Timing is everything when requesting a pay raise so what’s the best time of year to ask?

The answer will depend on your current situation. 

For example, if you’ve just won the firm a new Client, now is that time! Or if your employer’s competitor has just offered you a new job, with a better salary, now is that time!

However, if you haven’t achieved any of the above then you’ll want a adopt a more scientific approach. 

Start by consulting your employee handbook to find out when employee reviews are performed. If you don’t have an employee handbook use your employment anniversary date as a starting point. 

Why your anniversary date? 

Because most industries (including the design industry) are accustomed to costs increasing on an annual basis. 

Using ‘Objective Criteria’ like ‘industry norms’ to support your requests is a proven negotiation strategy that will help ensure the success of your request. 

More information about Objective Criteria can be found in the famous negotiation book: “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and William Ury.

Getting to Yes Negotiating Tactic Book Cover

Once you have a general idea about the time of year, you’ll want think about which day of the week is best.

Which day of the week is best?

Most career sites will tell you that Friday afternoon is the best time to meet with employers to discuss financial compensation issues. I don’t agree with this advice for two reasons:

Architects Salary when to request a pay raise
Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay
  1. Friday afternoons can be stressful as everyone frantically tries to complete their work before leaving early to enjoy the weekend.
  2. Friday afternoons give employers too many opportunities to delay decision making until the following week… and you don’t want them revisiting the issue on a Monday morning.

So, what day of the week would I suggest?

According to articles published by the Guardian Newspaper (“When is the Best Time to Ask for a Raise?”, Matt Keating, 1/7/06), Wednesday afternoon is statistically the most appropriate time in the working week to ask for a pay raise.

The survey carried out by a company known as Office Angels showed that 80 percent of employers were more receptive to requests for a salary increase on a Wednesday afternoon, as they considered that to be the least tense part of the working week.

Now that we know which day of the week is best, the only thing left to do is pick a time.

What time of day is best?

You may be thinking does the time of day really matter? Let me share some eye-opening research that will reaffirm why timing is everything! 

I recently read an article (“Justice is Served” Ed Young, 4/11/11) about the influence that the time-of-day plays in the outcome of parole board hearings.

Research Study:

According to the study (published by Shai Danziger from Ben Gurion University of the Negev),  Judges are far more likely to grant prisoners parole, if their parole hearing was conducted after a lunch or food break!

The study was conducted in Israel and included the results of 1,112 parole board hearings over a ten-month period.

Each of the 8 Judges involved in the study had an average of 22 years’ experience and their verdicts represented nearly half of all parole requests in the country during that ten-month period.

So, what can we learn from this study? 

As human beings we’re far more likely to take the time to review the merits of a request when we’re well-fed, our blood sugar levels are up, and we’re relaxed.

So, if you want to set yourself up for the best possible verdict try scheduling your pay raise request meeting for just after lunch, when your employer is relaxed, satisfied, and mentally available to seriously consider your request.

Architects Salary and Lunch
Image by silviarita from Pixabay

How much should you ask for? 

The next step is to confirm how much of a pay raise you should ask for (your target number).

To determine this number, you’ll need to complete some research so that you can back your request with objective criteria. Let’s get started:

Exercise 1:

Find at least three job advertisements that are offering more money and better benefits than you are currently receiving. To complete this exercise, go to a career website such as:

Exercise 2:

Confirm the current level of inflation in your part of the world. To complete this exercise, go to an inflation rate website such as:

Should you print your source documentation?

Once you’ve completed both of these exercises use the data to create a target number you’re comfortable with. Be sure to print your results and compile them in an orderly and professional fashion. 

Why is printing your support documentation so important?

Anyone who has read the e-Guide, “The Design Professional’s Guide to Negotiations” will have read a chapter called “The Power of Print” and how presentation affects perception.

According to the research, as human beings, we’re far more likely to trust and rely upon information that’s been published as opposed to the same information delivered verbally. 

So, your request for a pay raise will hold more weight if it’s supported by written documentation from a third party.

Of course, you only want to compile information that is favorable to your request. 

Don’t print anything that suggests you’re already adequately financially compensated.

Architects Salary and the Power of Print
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

What are Anchor Numbers?

Once you’ve completed the research, printed the results and have a target number in mind, you will need to decide how to introduce this number during your pay raise request meeting.

A question that plagues many negotiation experts is:

Should I state my target number or wait for the other side to make a suggestion?

Before answering this question, let’s take a look at a psychological theory known as ‘Anchoring’.

As described in the book, “Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value”, anchoring is a term given to the way in which human beings respond to, or are influenced by, numbers when making decisions in situations of ambiguity or uncertainty.

Research conducted by Sarah Lichtenstein and Paul Slovic suggests that when humans are not sure how much something is worth, they will make a decision about its value based on any number that has recently entered the situation. 

To explain how this works let’s look at one of their research studies.


Anchor Numbers Research Study: 

A group of college students were asked to spin a wheel to randomly select a number between 1 and 100. They were told that each number on the wheel corresponded to a question that they would have to answer when they completed their spin.

The wheel was rigged so that it would only stop on the number 10 or 65. The question was always the same regardless of the number received during the wheel spin:

“What is the percentage of African nations in the United Nations?”

Those students who spun the number 10 returned an average answer of 25%. However, those students who spun the number 65, returned an average answer of 45%, nearly twice as much!

The result from this and other similar studies suggests that people are strongly influenced by any random number that enters a situation when they are required to make a decision under uncertainty.

How do Anchor Numbers help your request for a pay raise?

When discussing a pay raise don’t wait for your employer to suggest a number. Instead, present your proposal first so that all subsequent offers are based upon your request (not your employers). 

If your employer is scheduled to discuss salary reviews with other team members make sure you schedule your meeting first. You don’t want a coworker inadvertently providing a low anchor number for you.

Should your first request be aggressive?

Leaving some room for negotiation is recommended as this will increase your chances of achieving your target number.

However, make sure your initial request is not so outrageous that you can’t support the request with your research. This will only destroy any credibility you previously gained.

Architects Salary and the psychology of numbers
Image by _Alicja_ from Pixabay

What is the Psychology of Numbers?

Sales and marketing experts have been using the psychology of numbers to influence consumer behavior for many years. 

As explained by the business expert Marlene Jensen in her book, “Pricing Psychology Report”, pricing isn’t all logic. 

People buy at one price, and not at another, for psychological reasons.

Architects Salary and the Psychology of Numbers

Research shows that when identical products were sold at $9.99 and $10.00, the $9.99 product sold as much as 20 percent more than the $10.00 product. 

We all know there is only a one cent difference, however we all continue to be influenced by numbers in this way. Studies have also shown that odd numbers are more commonly associated with lower prices than even numbers.

Discussing pay increases and/or cost of living adjustments ultimately revolves around talking about numbers that relate to the price of your time.

Understanding this very simple rule can help your request. If the statistics above are to be believed then you’ll be more successful asking for a 5.9 percent raise rather than a 6 percent raise, or if you are paid on an hourly basis maybe you should request an additional $1.90 rather than $2.00 per hour.

Decide what you are going to ask for before entering the meeting. Review different number structures and then adopt the most appealing approach.

9. Confirm Your Accomplishments

Most career advisors will tell you to make a list of all your achievements over the past 12 months or since your last review and to give examples for each.

I prefer to adopt a slightly different approach.

Architects Salary and Awards
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Rather than wasting time brainstorming last year’s performance, I would recommend obtaining a copy of the job description for the position you currently hold and the one you would like to occupy.

You can then use the job requirements section from your current job description as a checklist from which to provide examples of your achievements over the past 12 months.

By reviewing the job requirements list, you can focus your answers on the issues that matter to your employer while making sure all the issues are covered.

This not only demonstrates to your employer that you have the common sense to complete some research before your meeting, but it also provides you with a list of key performance indicators, which makes the process of preparing for the meeting that much more efficient.

Once you’ve completed this task for your current job you will then need to complete the task for the position that you would like to hold.

Even if you are not ready for a promotion just yet, you still need to prepare yourself for next year’s review and possible promotion.

Architects Salary Review Meeting
Image by ijmaki from Pixabay


Plan your request and you’re more likely to be successful.

Start by choosing the most appropriate time to set a meeting with your employer. If it is not clearly defined in your employee handbook, then 12 months from either your last review or commencement date is suggested.

Make sure it’s on a Wednesday afternoon, just after lunch, as studies suggest that is the most favorable time in the week for employers to seriously consider your request.

Complete an adequate level of research to back up your request and have the material organized and available for your employer to review (or take away) from the meeting.

Use Anchor Numbers to your advantage by making your request known before your employer suggests a number.

Numbers can be presented in a variety of ways. Choose an approach that is both suitable for your employment contract and attractive to the decision-maker.

When creating a list of your past year’s achievements be sure to use your job description, or the original job advertisement, to help guide your answers.

Would you like Help?

If you work for a design firm and would like more job security then learn how to write winning fee proposals – you’ll become the most important person in the office and attract the best salary!

To help you create your fee proposal strategy we’ve created a FREE Fee Proposal Mini-Series. 

To learn more click on the following link: