Did you know most disabilities are caused by illness rather than injury? That’s why it might be surprising to hear an architect can be just as likely to become disabled as someone operating machinery on a construction site. When you consider the educational cost of becoming an architect, as well as the earning potential, it’s obvious some sort of financial safety net should be in place. Disability insurance can be that safety net.
Why architects need disability insurance
When people think of professions with expensive education requirements, they think of jobs like doctors and lawyers. But it can be expensive to get into architecture, too.
Part of this is because there are different levels to architectural education. You can get a bachelor’s in architecture (BArch) and a master's in architecture (MArch). According to CollegeCal, the average annual out-of-state cost of a BArch is a little more than $46,000. A MArch, depending on how long the program is (two to four years), can range from $27,000 to $145,200, according to CostHelper. As of 2014, the average student debt for architects was 36% higher than the overall U.S. average, at around $40,000.
That’s a steep hole when starting your career. Then you have to consider, as Life of an Architect did, “the number of tests and costs of those tests required to become licensed to practice architecture." The Architectural Licensing Exam alone can cost more than $1,000. In some cases, it can be more expensive to become licensed as an architect than an engineer or lawyer.
There is an upside: The pay for an architect can be good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that, as of May 2016, the median annual wage for architects was $76,930. The highest 10% earn nearly $130,000.
The benefit of long-term disability insurance for architects is two-fold: It protects against student loan debt they’ve likely accrued over the years, and it protects potential future earnings.
Best disability insurance companies for architects
|Company||30 years old||40 years old||50 years old|
|Ameritas*||$105.42/mo | $1,219.34/yr||$168.13/mo | $1,948.37/yr||$258.27/mo | $2,996.60/yr|
|Assurity**||$125.90/mo | $1,447.20/yr||$211.45/mo | $2,430.35/yr||$281.55/mo | $3,236.69/yr|
|Guardian||$104.56/mo | $1,254.55/yr||$159.50/mo | $1,914.00/yr||$241.22/mo | $2,894.62/yr|
|Principal||$123.09/mo | $1,405.80/yr||$185.53/mo | $2,119.05/yr||$274.26/mo | $3,132.45/yr|
|The Standard||$127.51/mo | $1,457.30/yr||$184.84/mo | $2,112.47/yr||$276.88/mo | $3,164.31/yr|
|MassMutual||$105.19/mo | $1,237.20/yr||$162.26/mo | $1,896.88/yr||$260.81/mo | $3,036.20/yr|
|Mutual of Omaha***||$126.80/mo | $1,449.00/yr||$190.48/mo | $2,176.77/yr||$291.59/mo | $3,332.41/yr|
*Minimum three years of experience
**Non-cancelable policies not available
***To age 67; non-cancelable policies not available
There are a few things to note about these sample rates. They are for a male, non-smoking New Yorker. The policies have a 90-day elimination period — the amount of time after becoming disabled before the benefit can be accessed — and a benefit period that goes to age 65.
They are own-occupation policies, so the policyholder receives the benefit if they can’t do their own job, even if they are able to do other work, and have partial benefit, future purchase, non-cancelable and automatic increase benefit features. They are for policies with a $5,000 monthly benefit. Individual benefits will be determined by your gross income and any other group or individual plans in place.
What architects need to know about disability insurance
If you’re an architect who plans on going off on your own, joining a small firm that doesn’t offer disability insurance as a benefit or has a workplace group plan that doesn’t fit your needs, you should consider a private disability insurance policy. There are a few things architects should keep in mind.
You can buy a disability policy even as a student for future insurability and apply for reconsideration later on to increase your coverage when you start earning a salary. This is useful for locking in lower rates when you’re younger.
There are also certain details that will impact the cost of your disability insurance policy, like:
Your degree. A bachelor’s degree is required to be considered for the best rates.
Your income level.
Your years of experience.
Your specific profession. Draftsmen and landscape architects will typically have more expensive coverage.
Architects go through a lot to become successful in their career, and they have a high earning potential that runs the risk of going unprotected. The foundation is important to any architectural design. Long-term disability insurance is an important foundation to any architectural career.
Not an architect? Find the best disability insurance companies for your career.