Freelancing can be a great option for qualified architects. It allows more freedom than working for a large firm, and can provide newer architects with practical experience. Despite the benefits, it’s important to find out the income you can expect to make as a freelance architect before you fully commit to becoming one. 

This article will help you find out what sort of money you might earn as a freelance architect, as well as providing tips on how to enter the industry and how to get clients. The topics we’ll look at include:

  • How can I become a freelance architect?
  • How much do freelance architects earn?
  • How can I get clients as a freelance architect?
  • How can Countingup help manage my freelance income?

How can I become a freelance architect?

If you’re looking to become a freelance architect, it’s not as simple as going out and immediately looking for clients. You’ll first need to apply to the Architect’s Register before you can use the title of architect. This is because ‘architect’ is a protected title in the UK, which means it’s illegal to use unless you register appropriately. For the register to accept your application, you’ll need several qualifications: 

  • A degree recognised by the Architects Registration Board
  • A year of practical work experience
  • A further two years of full-time study at a BArch or MArch (bachelor’s and masters degree in architecture, respectively)
  • A year of practical training
  • A pass mark at a final qualifying exam set by the ARB

These requirements are fairly demanding, so make sure you’re fully invested in this career path before you begin your training. If you have an interest in working in this industry but lack the qualifications to become a full architect, you may want to consider a freelance position as an architectural technologist. 

What is an architectural technologist?

Architectural technologist is a less qualified title, but that does not necessarily mean they are less skilled. As an architectural technologist, you should still have a relevant degree, but you don’t need all the qualifications in the list above or to apply for the title. 

The other key difference is that you don’t need Professional Indemnity Insurance. This is a specific kind of business insurance that the Architects Registration Board will require you to have if your application to them is successful. If a client sues you for making a mistake or not completing work to a satisfactory standard, Professional Indemnity Insurance pays for any legal fees or compensation costs.

How much do freelance architects earn?

According to the UK government careers website, architects can expect to earn anything between £26,500 and £90,000 a year. These figures are based on a 35-40 hour work week, but a freelancer is unlikely to be working such consistent hours (at least not at first). 

The Royal Institute of British Architects’ 2021 survey of architect salaries found that the average salary mainly differs due to experience — a newly-qualified architects’ average salary was £34,000, but after five years this went up to £40,000. Please note that these figures are for ARB-certified architects and that the average salary for architectural technologists was slightly lower (£33,000).

This survey includes salaries from all architects, both employees and freelancers, so it may be that you’ll make slightly less as a freelancer. This is because freelance work is heavily dependent on getting a steady stream of clients, and without that, your income will decrease. 

How can I increase my income?

If you’re looking to increase your freelance income, prioritise work that offers a higher rate of pay. When you’re starting out, try to accept all reasonable offers to establish yourself and build a reputation, but later on it’s smart to focus on the jobs that offer the most money. 

Providing multiple services is also a good way to increase income. As an architect, most of your jobs will be long-term design projects. To make more money, you might also consider offering your services as a consultant. This would mean offering advice and checking the work of others, which is less of a time investment than taking on a design project yourself. 

How can I get clients as a freelance architect?

Getting clients as a freelance architect can be tough if you don’t have a reputation within the architectural industry. Luckily, there is a path to success even without a significant reputation. The key factor in achieving success as a freelancer is advertising your services to a wide range of potential clients.

Online marketing can really help get your name out into the world. There’s a wide variety of freelancing websites, and it’s an excellent move to advertise your services on as many as you can. 

There are also freelancing sites dedicated specifically to architecture and design, so do some research to find the most relevant options for you. For instance, Houzz is a platform specifically for people looking to hire home improvement and design professionals, so it might be a good place to start as a freelance architect.

Staying motivated is another important part of finding clients while freelancing. You might go through long spells without clients, but if you lose interest, you’ll prolong these spells even further. So motivate yourself and keep working at advertising your services, and eventually you’ll find success.

How a simple app can help you manage your freelance income

In order to make a living as a freelance architect, you’ll need to learn how to invoice clients for freelance work. Organising, sending, and creating invoices can get a little complex, so it’s a good idea to use financial management software to make this process easier. Countingup is a great example of this software, as it can create invoice templates automatically.

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.