Architect: Career Definition, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Explore the career requirements for architects. Get the facts about education, salary, licensure requirements and job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering AutoCAD Drafting & Design Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Architect Do?

Architects do not spend all of their time at a desk in an office designing places for people to live or work. Architects must be creative artists as well as knowledgeable about engineering principles. They need this knowledge along with the social skills to discuss ideas with clients and construction managers. Architects work closely with clients and engineers to meet client needs and engineering requirements. While drafting building designs, they'll need to be skilled in the use of computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software.

As an architect, you'll take aesthetic, economical, environmental and functional aspects into consideration when designing buildings and other structures. The following chart provides an overview of the requirements for working as an architect.

Degree Required Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) or Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)
Training Required Complete the Intern Development Program (IDP)
Key Responsibilities Consult with clients regarding design requirements and budget; draft computer-generated scaled drawings and blueprints; calculate and report material estimates, construction time and equipment requirements; oversee construction
Licensure and Certification All states require architects to be licensed; states may grant licensure reciprocity with professional certification
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%*
Median Salary (2015) $76,100*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Defines a Career as an Architect?

Your job will require engineering, management and supervisory skills in addition to design skills. A significant part of your job will involve communicating your visions to clients and contractors. The design process involves sketching scale drawings, discussing projects with clients, developing final construction plans and visiting construction sites to make sure all goes as planned. For the construction aspect of projects, you may help clients select contractors and negotiate contracts.

What Type of Employment Outlook Is Predicted?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of architects would grow faster than average, at a rate of 7% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). As the population increases, architects are needed to design residential buildings, healthcare facilities, schools and workplaces. You may increase your job opportunities by participating in internships during college and providing proof of your creative abilities. Familiarity with sustainable design may also increase your chances of employment.

What Education Requirements Will I Need to Complete?

A Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) program typically takes five years to complete and is an option if you don't have a college degree. Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) programs are an option if you have a bachelor's degree in another subject or if you have completed an architecture preprofessional program. According to the BLS, a M.Arch. can take anywhere from 1-5 years to complete, depending on your previous education.

While enrolled in an architecture program, you'll take courses in architectural design, history of architecture, construction methods and CADD. You will take both lecture and design studio courses. In a master's program, you may also be required to conduct research and prepare a design thesis. Many students complete an internship during college or after graduation to gain experience. As an intern, you may prepare drawings, build models, write specifications or research building codes.

What Are the Licensure Requirements?

All states require licensing for architects, according to the BLS. The Architect Registration Examination (ARE) is the nationally recognized licensing exam offered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (www.ncarb.org). To qualify to take the ARE, you need to have at least three years of work experience in the field, meet education requirements and meet the requirements set by your state licensing board. If you complete an internship while enrolled in a degree program, you may be able to apply your experience toward the qualification requirements.

To pass the ARE and earn your license, you must pass all nine divisions of the test. Some states may require continuing education to maintain your license.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a variety of alternative occupations that relate to architecture, starting with drafters who use computer software to convert original work by engineers or architects into technical drawings. Drafters only need an associate's degree to begin. Other related careers requiring at least a bachelor's are civil engineers and construction managers, who design, build and supervise construction projects.

Professional designers in the fields of graphics, industrial and interior design utilize the latest in computer or hand-drafted design work in their given fields to create drafts using client ideas or engineering blueprints. These professional positions also require bachelor's. Urban and regional planners, who design community and area facilities from parks to community centers, may require a master's.

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