A common question that architecture recruiters get from candidates is if it’s better to work at a large firm or a small business. The best answer that we can give is that they both have unique benefits, depending on your respective goals and values. We know that there are significant differences between working at a large firm with 50+ employees versus a small one with less than 10. Do you want to be a little fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond? Here are some essential things to consider when determining which one will be the best fit for you.

Earning Potential

Some small and medium firms might advertise competitive wages, however statistics suggest that large architecture companies provide more significant earning potential because they produce more revenue.

Since many young architects have accrued student loan debt, working for a large firm usually makes more sense from a financial point of view with more excellent compensation and better benefits that often include tuition reimbursement.

Available Resources 

Another reason why young architects look to work at big firms is more access to resources. From IT professionals to marketing teams, large firms usually have the flexibility in their budgets to hire more specialists. In addition to hiring more people to learn from, recent graduates are also attracted to jobs at large firms because they tend to invest more in physical resources and modern technology.

Job Responsibilities 

A small firm is an ideal place to be that big fish in a small pond. If you want to make strong connections with colleagues and people to remember your name, you will fit in much better at a small firm.

A common complaint among some young architects at large firms is that they get stuck working on entry-level designs. Small firms promote a more comprehensive experience that could even include construction administration. We encourage architects that want to open their practice in the future to start their careers working for a small firm since they’ll be exposed to a variety of projects from day one.

Other Pros and Cons

The potential to earn more money and better access to resources are just a couple of advantages associated with large firms that we’ve discussed. Candidates that don’t care much about receiving individual attention are usually a better fit for organizations with dozens of employees. Otherwise, look for architecture jobs at small firms that provide a family-like work culture with tight-knit teams.

Finally, asking thoughtful questions during the interview is another effective way to learn the differences. Ask what your responsibilities will be once you’re hired, what the firm’s goals are for the next several months, and why they like working there.

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