How to Become an Architect

An architect is a qualified person who specializes in the organization and design of buildings.

An architect may design both the interior and exterior of houses, buildings, schools, factories, and even skyscrapers.

There is quite a lot of education required to become an architect, you will need a wide knowledge base, and will have to study a wide range of subjects ranging from engineering to art history.

Education Requirements to Become an Architect

To become an architect, you must first be qualified and registered to practice.

To do this, you will need to complete a course that is endorsed by the National Architectural Accrediting Board , or NAAB.

You can complete either a five year Bachelor of Architecture degree, there are also Master’s and Doctorate programs available.

It’s possible to complete a Bachelor’s degree in an unrelated area, followed by the two or four year Masters program.

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It’s also advisable to consider completing an honors year, as this will make you a much more attractive prospect to architectural firms later on.

There are 105 NAAB approved schools across America.

You’ll cover a broad range of subjects while at college, including design, writing, math, physics, construction, and art history.

Upon graduation you will have a good amount of general knowledge, and the well rounded skills base that architecture demands.

It’s a good idea to get as much practical experience as you can while you are in college.

Architectural firms will give jobs to students over the summer.

The pay is minimal and you might spend most of your time photocopying and making coffee, but you will also be getting some valuable work experience and making contacts in the industry.

After college, you’ll need to complete some practical experience as an intern before you are fully qualified.

Depending on the licensing requirements in your state, you will need to spend around three years as an intern.

After this, you can take an exam set by the state board, to become a registered and licensed architect.

Architect Job Description

A day in the life of an architect is a busy one.

They must communicate with people from all walks of life, such as clients, colleagues, site managers, and construction contractors.

While some architects will simply work with a client to prepare drafts and plans, others will stay with the project until completion.

This means working with construction contractors to make sure plans are followed, as well as making any necessary changes as the job goes on.

Here are some of the typical tasks of an architect.

  • Communicate with clients and colleagues
  • Plan out jobs according to objectives and budgets
  • Conducting environmental impact studies
  • Selecting sites or judging site viability for various projects
  • Preparing drawings and drafts
  • Preparing final construction drawings
  • Work with site managers to ensure plans are followed and make changes as needed
  • Following all safety and building regulations

Ongoing professional development is required of architects as technology evolves.

Computer drafting is now a large part of working in building and design, and it’s important to keep up to date with the current trends and new technology.

Architect Salary and Career Path

Once you’ve done the hard work and become a licensed architect, you can be assured of the fact that you will have excellent job security for the rest of your career.

The demand for architects is expected to increase faster than the average of other occupations in the next five years.

While it may be competitive to work in some of the larger firms, as a qualified architect it’s likely you will not have problems finding employment.

Most architects start their career working for a medium to large sized firm.

In these kinds of positions they learn the ropes, with time advancing within the company, moving on to more senior positions and a higher salary.

Later on, they may take up a managerial position, start up their own firm, or simply work for themselves.

As a qualified architect, there are other career paths you may decide to go on to.

For instance, you might become an architecture historian, a journalist specializing in architecture, or an interior designer.

The median salary of an architect is $70,000 per year according to

During your first few years as an intern, expect to earn a lot less.

Working as an architect is an ideal career for those who have a passion for design, buildings, and history.

Those who are working in this job report a high level of satisfaction in their work.

Seeing something you have created on paper become a functional and attractive space can be very satisfying indeed.

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