How to Start a Professional Career as an Architect

How to Start a Professional Career as an Architect
Architect by Teknisk Ukeblad
Architects: A Quick Look
Median Salary $73,090 per year
$35.14 per hour
Entry-level education Bachelor’s of Science Degree
On-the-job training Internship/Residency
Primary employers Architectural and Engineering Industry, Corporate Business
Number of positions (U.S.) 107,400
Job Growth (2012-2020) 17% (Faster than average)
New positions (2012-2020) +18,600
How to Become An Architect

Architect by Teknisk Ukeblad

What Does An Architect Do?

An Architect plans and creates the design blueprint for homes, office buildings, and other structures. Architects are responsible for designing the places people need to live, work, rest, shop, and eat. Read more.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor states the median annual salary for an Architect was $73,090 in 2012. Read more.

Becoming An Architect

The path to becoming an Architect requires completing a four year degree in architecture, working as an intern for an architecture firm, and passing a registration exam. Read more.


Job Outlook

The perspective job outlook for Architects is higher than the current average for all occupations. The Bureau expects this position to grow by 17 percent through the end of the decade. The Bureau expects that the competition for available jobs will be strong as the number of applicants continues to surge. Read more.

Architect Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the median salary for Architects was roughly $73,000 per year in 2012. 10 percent of Architects earned less than $44,600. The top 10 percent earned over $118,230. Architects generally work full-time. Their hours may include night and weekend shifts. They often have to put in additional unpaid hours as they near impending deadlines. Their work more or less revolves around deadlines and the speed of the project. Architects who are self employed may have a greater flexibility to set their own hours. Additionally, certain Architecture firms may pay for employees to continue their education beyond the bachelor's level.

How to Start a Professional Career as an Architect

How Long Does It Take To Become An Architect?

Generally, the path to becoming an Architect is lengthy. Architects in training must complete three stages to become a full blown architect. All Architects has at least a four/five year bachelor's of science degree in Architecture. You can click here to find the top schools for Architecture in your area. Candidates must also complete an internship for an architecture firm. Often times, these are paid internships. Finally, the Architect to be generally must pass a state licensed Architect Registration exam. 35 states in the US currently require Architects have passed this exam.

Educational Requirements

As previously stated, all architecture firms require a bachelor's degree at the very least. A bachelor's in Architecture generally lasts anywhere from four to five years. Some firms may require that a candidate possess a master's in Architecture. They generally won't care whether an applicant holds a high school diploma or a GED. Although not common, some employers may not even require the candidate have a diploma or GED. The program typically includes courses in architectural history and theory, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), structures, math, and physical sciences (among other things). In the design studio, students use their skills and concepts to create drawings and three-dimensional models of designs. We've provided a list of top schools in your area with certified Architecture degrees here. This link includes a list of the best Architecture schools in the country. Every state architectural registration boards requires graduates complete a paid internship. Architects in training must often work at this internship for three years before they may sit for the Architect Registration Exam. Students who complete internships while in school can count some of that time toward their three year internship period. Architects in every state of the US must be licensed. The requirements generally require completing a professional degree in architecture, gaining relevant experience through a paid internship, and passing the Architect Registration Exam. Many states require that Architects refresh their education to keep a license. The Bureau expects some states will adopt mandatory requirements for continuing education. The requirements usually involve additional education through workshops, university classes, conferences, self-study courses, or other sources.

Architect Job Description

An Architect plans and creates the design blueprint for homes, office buildings, and other structures. People need places to live, work, play, learn, shop, and eat. Architects are responsible for designing the places people need to live, work, rest, shop, and eat. They may design something as simple as a single room to an entire corporate high rise office. Architects may work for public or private projects. Often times, the position requires they meet with the client to get a feel for the client's needs or wants. During the conversation, the Architect and client negotiate the requirements, objectives, and budget of the job. In some instances, the Architect may show the client pre-design services (such as cost analyses and the necessary design requirements for the project type). After discussing the original plan and reaching an agreement, architects create final construction plans. Sketches of the structural system, ventilating systems, electrical systems, and plumbing (among other items) accompany these plans. The Architect's plan must comply with state and local ordinances (such as building codes and zoning laws). Most Architects now use Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) in place of drafting paper and pencil for creating architectural designs and sketches. However, some employers still require their Architects use hand-drawing during the early stages of a project. An Architect may also assume managerial duties. During construction, the architect may visit the construction site to ensure the contractor is following certain requirements (such as the design and using specified materials). Architects may also assume the role of a consultant. They assist clients in negotiating construction bids and selecting contractors.


An Architect may have to:
  • Meet a client to figure out project requirements
  • Arrange structural figures
  • Direct employee in drawing and documents
  • Draw structure with computer software
  • Oversee construction contracts
  • Manage construction employees to ensure adherence to architectural plans
  • Market and present past projects to gain new contracts

Job Outlook

The U.S. Burea of Labor Statistics says the Architect position will grow by 17 percent by 2020. This growth represents nearly 19,000 new positions. As always, Architects are needed for the planning and designing phase of construction. This extends from construction projects of homes, offices, retails stores and various other buildings. As school buildings age, many districts and colleges will rebuild or renovate. Naturally, Architects will be necessary for these processes. Additionally, demands for healthcare facilities are expected to surge as the baby boomer population grows older. The Bureau predicts that green design or sustainable design will increase in demand. This design type highlights use of resources, (such as water conservation, waste, and environmentally friendly design). Rising energy expenses and growing worry over the environment will lead to more buildings being built with these sustainable designs. Architects who can position themselves to work for a firm firmly entrenched in this field will be better off. The Bureau expects competition for Architect positions to be fierce. Despite the growth of Architectural positions, the Bureau doubts the market will be able to sustain the many students graduating with Architecture degrees.

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