Wages for Principal Architects in the United States are generous, with average pay above six figures ($130K) per year. Including potential for bonuses and profit sharing — peaking near $38K and $20K, respectively — total cash payment to Principal Architects can bottom out near $95K or peak near $190K depending on individual performance. Geographic location is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by career duration. Medical benefits are awarded to nearly all, and a strong majority earn dental coverage. Men account for the majority of Principal Architects who responded to the questionnaire — 88 percent to be exact. Most Principal Architects report high levels of job satisfaction. Respondents to the PayScale salary survey provided the data for this report.
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$90,156 - $168,064
$90K
$130K
$170K
MEDIAN: $129,647
10%
50%
90%

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$39.66 - $98.26
$50
MEDIAN: $50
50%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$70K$140K$210K
Salary
$90,156 - $168,064  
   
Bonus
$4,146 - $37,568  
Profit Sharing
$48.94 - $19,678  
Commission
$7,500  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$95,365 - $189,810  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 303
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$50$100$150
Hourly Rate
$50.25  
   
Overtime
$60.00  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$100K$200K$300K
Bonus
$4,146 - $37,568  
   
Commission
$7,500  
Profit Sharing
$48.94 - $19,678  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$95,365 - $189,810  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 8

Find Out Exactly What You Should Be Paid

United States (change)

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Job Description for Principal Architect

Principal architects are the subject matter experts for information technology projects, helping guide these projects to completion. They must be able to handle multiple projects, be innovative, and be able to communicate effectively across multiple departments in different degrees of technical detail. When dealing with software, they code new projects, maintain existing ones, and ensure information technology policies are adhered to. They serve as a team leader and are the main point of contact for many major architectural issues. For subordinates, principal architects provide guidance, support, and discipline as needed.

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Principal Architect Tasks

  • Responsible for all architectural design aspects of large or complex projects.
  • Ensure project deliverables are met on time and on budget.
  • Delegate work and provide oversight of group work plans.
  • Manage an architectural team of junior and senior architects as well as administrative personnel.

Common Career Paths for Principal Architect


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Principal Architects sometimes move into a Senior Principal Architect role, where the salary is similar. Many Principal Architects choose to become Design Architects and Senior Project Architects as their careers advance. However, folks in those positions report median salaries of $86K less and $55K less, respectively.

Principal Architect Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Principal Architect


Principal Architects report using a diverse set of skills on the job. Most notably, facility with Enterprise Solutions, System Architecture, and Java are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 35 percent, 21 percent, and 18 percent, respectively. Skills that pay less than market rate include Design and Project Management. Those proficient in Design are, more often than not, also skilled in Software Architecture.

Pay by Experience Level for Principal Architect

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.


Respondents with less than five years' experience take home $131K on average. In contrast, those who have been around for five to 10 years earn a noticeably higher average of $145K. For Principal Architects, 10 to 20 years of experience on the job amounts to an average salary of $141K. Principal Architects who have spent more than 20 years on the job report earning a significantly higher median of $145K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $141,285

Larger city markers indicate a job is popular in that location.

San Francisco offers some of the highest pay in the country for Principal Architects, 26 percent above the national average. Principal Architects can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Seattle (+17 percent), Boston (+16 percent), Chicago (+5 percent), and New York (+4 percent). Falling short of the national average by 17 percent, the area with the worst salaries is Irvine. Los Angeles and Washington are a couple other places where companies are known to pay below the median — salaries are 16 percent lower and 9 percent lower, respectively.

Principal Architect Reviews

Q: What is it like working as a Principal Architect?

Principal Architect in Santa Clara:
"Principal architect of an IT Services company."
Pros: Help you to get a broader knowledge on technology solutions, running an account, manage your team and many challenges to meet with.
Cons: Have to play with constraints of your budget and resources. Frustrating when interacting with multiple teams and unrealistic deadlines.

Related Job Salaries

Key Stats for Principal Architect

Gender

Female
12 %
Male
88 %

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 41 votes.
1-4 years
3%
5-9 years
5%
10-19 years
41%
20 years or more
52%
Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Principal Architect Salaries




National Average
$141,000

Entry-Level
up arrow 7%

Skills That Affect Principal Architect Salaries

Enterprise Solutions
up arrow 35%

System Architecture
up arrow 21%

Java
up arrow 18%

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
up arrow 13%

Cloud Computing
up arrow 9%


National Average
$141,000

Software Development
up arrow 1%

up arrow 8%


Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 41 votes.

Gender

Female
12 %
Male
88 %

Years of Experience

1-4 years
3%
5-9 years
5%
10-19 years
41%
20 years or more
52%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 91%
dental benefits
Dental: 79%
vision benefits
Vision: 70%
dental benefits
None: 8%
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