What Are the Different Types of Architects?

Those wishing to become architects may want to consider some of the specialization options within the field. Read on to find out the types of architects that are recognized professionally, the education needed for each field, and salary information. Schools offering AutoCAD Drafting & Design Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Different Types of Architecture Can I Major In?

Architects are professionals who design and create man-made structures of all kinds. While most people are familiar with the idea of an architect who designs buildings, there are several different architecture types. The most notable of these are:

  • Building architects
  • Landscape architects
  • Naval architects

Each type of architect focuses on a unique area of expertise, which comes with its challenges and differing educational requirements. To work as an architect, regardless of type, it is almost always necessary to hold at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited program and receive a state-issued license authorizing work. All architects must work with clients, local and state governments, and construction teams, ensuring that their plans will create a safe structure that meets both client needs and building regulations.

A Career as a Building Architect

To be a building architect, it is commonly required to complete an accredited educational program in architecture. Accreditation for these programs is done by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), and accredited bachelor's programs last for 5 years, while accredited master's degree programs last for 3 years. These programs include courses such as:

  • Structures and materials
  • History of Western architectural styles
  • Architectural construction systems

Programs tend to have a measured focus on math and science, as well as humanities, to explain the cultural context of building styles. After graduation from an accredited program, aspiring architects will need to complete a paid internship of at least 3 years before being allowed to sit for most states' licensing exams. An architect license will generally require continuing education and renewal periodically, although this can vary from state to state.

A Career as a Landscape Architect

Landscape architects design public spaces such as parks, college campuses, sports fields and other recreational zones. They plan out client necessities such as walking paths, water features and bridges, while also considering aspects such as water flow during rain and existing natural features. Much like building architects, becoming a landscape architect will require at least a bachelor's degree from a program accredited by the Landscaping Architectural Accrediting Board (LAAB), which typically lasts 4-5 years. Bachelor's in landscaping architecture degrees include courses such as:

  • History of Landscape Architecture
  • Landscape theory
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools

These programs tend to have more of a focus on writing and the humanities but still include some math and science courses. For those who hold a bachelor's degree in another area, 3-year master's degree programs are also an option to obtain the necessary education. Most states require candidates for licensure to pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination, or LARE, before becoming licensed. Additional exams may be necessary in certain states, covering special requirements to withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes.

A Career as a Naval Architect

Naval architects build structures that must withstand the ravages of the ocean, such as ships, shipyards, and oil rigs. The structures they build have to be able to tolerate high pressures, saltwater corrosion and in the case of ships, remain buoyant so the skillsets for naval architects can be quite different from others. Most positions as a naval architect will require a bachelor's degree in naval architecture or marine engineering, as the two are closely related. Programs in this field are accredited by ABET, and include courses such as:

  • Marine structures
  • Ship design
  • Marine thermodynamics

Programs in naval architecture include time at sea, as these programs are also designed to prepare students for possible careers aboard ships conducting maintenance. Licensure requirements for naval architects can vary substantially; one common requirement is to receive a Professional Engineering (PE) license from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). To receive this license, an applicant must take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam after graduation. After at least four years of work experience in the field, applicants may then apply for and take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam in naval architecture and marine engineering.

Architecture Careers and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), architects can expect to see an 8% growth in employment over the 10 years between 2018 and 2028 and had a median annual salary of $79,380 as of 2018. Those with experience in environmentally friendly design are expected to have the best odds at finding a job. Landscape architects, however, had projected growth of only 4%, a bit slower than the national average. The median annual salary for landscape architects was $68,230 in 2018. Naval architects and marine engineers had the best outlook in 2018, with a median annual salary of $92,560, and projected growth at 9% over the same decade. Demand for this field was driven by a need for more efficient cargo ships and the construction of green energy sources such as offshore wind farms.

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