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Architect Career Guide

Do you have a wonderful eye for detail? Do you like construction, and are willing to commit to a long process of education? Are you looking for a career that is set to have a fast employment growth over the coming years, therefore offering many exciting employment opportunities?

If the answers yes, then we believe you may thrive as an architect.

Architects uses their specialist construction knowledge and high-level drawing skills to create designs for new construction projects, alterations and redevelopments. To become an architect, you will need to achieve a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and to complete a paid internship. All states require architects to be licensed and to become licensed, architects sit the Architect Registration Examination. In order to keep their license, most states require some form of continuing education, which will further develop their skills.

The most beautiful aspect of architecture as a profession is how the industry embraces the individuality of each person. Of course, designing buildings is in itself a fulfilling creative pursuit; but even beyond that you are allowed, and in fact encouraged, to have a style which can manifest beyond your work.

Jan Doroteo

Architect Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Architect Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Architect field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33382 CAD Engineer Male 30 $47,000 Ashburn, VA 01/01/2010
32729 Project Manager Male 46 $67,250 Temple, GA 01/01/2010

Overview

What an architect actually does

An architect uses their specialist construction knowledge and high-level drawing skills to create designs for new construction projects, alterations and redevelopments. They focus on not only the buildings aesthetics, but also on its functionality. This includes everything from air flow to ensuring that the building it properly supported. They may work for residential homeowners, municipalities, schools, hospitals, and other businesses. Regardless of who the work for, their typical duties and responsibilities include:

  • Creating building designs and highly detailed drawings both by hand and by using specialist computer-aided design (CAD) applications
  • Liaising with clients to find out their budget and then liaising with construction professionals about the feasibility of potential projects
  • Working around constraining factors such as town planning legislation, environmental impact and project budget
  • Applying for planning permission
  • Following procedures and advice from governmental new build and legal departments
  • Writing and presenting reports, proposals, applications and contracts
  • Specifying the requirements for the project
  • Adapting plans according to circumstances and resolving any problems that may arise during construction
  • Playing a part in project and team management. This includes travelling regularly to building sites, proposed locations and client meetings

Why they are needed

Buildings don’t design themselves. Sure, we all have ideas of what our dream house would look like. But, if we were to design them, they would not be structural sound, have the correct air flow or be built in a sustainable way. Architects have the unique skills to add art, creativity and precision to the buildings we need. In fact, research has found that great architecture can create stronger communities, with healthier neighbourhoods and businesses.

Pros and cons of a career as an architect:

Pros:

  • Architecture is a very interesting and creative profession, which offers great job satisfaction for those who are artistic and practical
  • There will rarely be a boring day as an architect as you will get to work on a variety of different tasks and work with a variety of different people (e.g., clients, engineers, town planners, construction workers)
  • There are lots of different career opportunities. For example, architects can work for themselves, for small firms or for large firms
  • During economic booms, there is a very high demand for architects, which offers many exciting job opportunities

Cons:

  • The educational requirements to becoming an architect is long, demanding, competitive and expensive. On top of this, continuing education is often required in order to maintain licensure
  • There can be high competition for architect jobs
  • Architecture can be a challenging and demanding field as the scope of issues that an architect is accountable for on a project is tremendous
  • The demand for architects is subject to the ups and downs of the economy
  • There is a lot of responsibility as architects can be responsible for protecting public health, safety and welfare.

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of architects is projected to grow 1 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is slower than the average for all occupations. This slowed employment is expected as improved building information modeling (BIM) software and measuring technology are expected to increase architects’ productivity, thereby limiting employment growth for these workers. However, it is still expected that architects are needed to make plans and designs for the construction and renovation of homes, schools, healthcare facilities, and other structures, particularly in the area of sustainable design.

With a high number of students graduating with degrees in architecture, strong competition for internships and jobs is expected. Furthermore, employment of architects is strongly tied to the activity of the construction industry. Therefore, architects may experience periods of unemployment the overall level of construction falls.

Career paths

All states require architects to be licensed. Typically, there are three main steps to becoming a licensed architect. The first requires achieving an Architecture bachelor’s degree. This typically takes 5 years. About two-thirds of states require that architects hold a degree in architecture from one of more than 120 schools of architecture accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). State licensing requirements can be found at the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Many architects will also earn a master’s degree in architecture, which can take an additional 1 to 5 years.

The second step is to gain relevant experience through a paid internship, that generally lasts 3 years. Most new architecture graduates complete their training period by working at architectural firms through the Architectural Experience Program (AXP), a program run by NCARB that guides students through the internship process. Architecture students who complete internships while still in school can count some of that time toward the 3-year training period. Typically, interns in architectural firms may help design parts of a project, prepare architectural documents and drawings, build models, and prepare construction drawings on CADD.

Finally, architects must sit and pass the Architect Registration Examination. In order to keep their license, most states require some form of continuing education, which normally includes attending workshops, university classes, conferences and self-study courses.

After many years of work experience, some architects advance to become managers, they will typically coordinate the activities of other architects or construction workers and may work on larger construction projects.

Example Job Titles for Architect

Below is a list of common job titles in the Architect field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for architects was $80,750 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,700, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $137,620. The top paying industries were the government, with a median annual salary of $93,970. This is followed by construction ($80,040), and architectural, engineering and related services ($79,830).

Autonomy and Flexibility

The level of autonomy and flexibility for a architect will vary depending on where they are in their education and training. For example, an architect during their internship will have far less control over their decisions than a licensed architect with 10 years experience. Similarly, architects who have progressed to self-employed or management positions are likely to have more autonomy and flexibility than those who work for large architecture firms.

Locations and commute

Due to their economic status, some states may have far greater employment opportunities for architects than others. According to Zippia, the best states to be an architect, based on average annual salary and number of job opportunities, are:

  • Massachusetts, where the average annual salary is $95,699
  • Virginia, where the average annual salary is $90,061
  • Vermont, where the average annual salary is $87,352
  • Nebraska, where the average annual salary is $87,127
  • New York, where the average annual salary is $90,518

The worst states, according to Zippia are Arkansas, Louisiana, Iowa, Hawaii and Mississippi.

Work environment

The largest employers of architects in the United States was architectural, engineering and related services, which hired 71% of all architects. 17% of architects in the states are self-employed, 3% work for the government and 3% work for the construction industry.

Generally, architects spend much of their time in offices, where they will develop reports and drawings. They may meet with clients and other construction workers either in their office, or off site. Architects will have to travel to visit the construction sites their projects are on. This is to review the projects progress and to ensure that the clients objectives are being met.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Architect careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Architect career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Architect.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

There has been no scientific exploration into exactly what personality types will make a successful architect. However, the Myers Briggs personality type of INTJ, or otherwise known as ‘the mastermind’, is likely to be a successful architect. This is because these types of people typically look for possibilities for improvement in everything and have the unique ability to plan head and refine and vision for the future. They are organized, calculating, rational, analytical, independent and innovative, which are key skills for successful architects.

Accomplishment and mastery

As becoming an architect takes many years, the sense of achievement and skill mastery once architects finally qualifies is high. What is more, is that architects must continue to develop their skills throughout their career in order to keep their license and progress further. This will further increase their sense of accomplishment and mastery.

Meaning and contribution

The work of an architect is incredibly meaningful and contributes greatly to society. Architects have the unique skills to ensure building are aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound and as mentioned previously, great architecture can dramatically improve communities and businesses.

Life fit

Most architects will work full time, which offers a great life fit. However, many architects will work additional hours, especially when facing deadlines. Self-employed architects may have more flexible work hours, but the hours tend to choose you. 

Who will thrive in this career?

First and foremost, as architects are responsible for the whole design of buildings, in order to thrive you must be artistic and creative. You must also be organized, as there is a lot of work and planning that goes into ensuring a building is aesthetically pleasing, meets the clients brief and is safe. Finally, in order to thrive as an architect, you must be able to communicate clearly with others. This is because architects will spend much of their time liaising with engineers, construction workers and other architects.

Who will struggle in this career?

You may struggle as an architect if you are not naturally creative. Similarly, if you don’t pay attention to the most minuscule details, you may struggle as an architect. Those who prefer to not communicate with others throughout their working day will struggle with the constant need to communicate and confer with others. Finally, those who are not willing to commit to the education will, obviously, struggle as becoming an architect takes over 5 years.

Requirements

Skills and talents

Architects have extensive training, which teaches them all the key skills. Architects must also have skills such as:

  • Creativity, as architects are responsible for designing the overall look of buildings and must therefore ensure it is aesthetically pleasing
  • Communication skills, as architects must share their ideas, both in written and verbal format, with clients, other architects, construction workers and all other professionals involved in the process
  • Analytical skills, as architects must create and understand complexed designs and the context in which they were created
  • Organizational skills, as architects will need to keep on top of paperwork, contracts and arranging meetings with clients and contractors. They may also be working on more than one project at a time, which increases their need to be organized
  • Visulization skills, as architects must be able to look at the big picture and envision how a building will look once completed
  • Technical skills, as architects need to use CADD technology to create plans as part of building information modeling (BIM)

Education

Architects are required to achieve a bachelor’s degree in Architecture. This typically takes 5 years. About two-thirds of states require that architects hold a degree in architecture from one of more than 120 schools of architecture accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Many architects will also earn a master’s degree in architecture, which can take an additional 1 to 5 years.

Once architects have achieved their bachelors degree, they must gain relevant experience through a paid internship, which generally lasts 3 years. Most new architecture graduates complete their training period by working at architectural firms through the Architectural Experience Program (AXP), a program run by NCARB that guides students through the internship process. Architecture students who complete internships while still in school can count some of that time toward the 3-year training period. Typically, interns in architectural firms may help design parts of a project, prepare architectural documents and drawings, build models, and prepare construction drawings on CADD.

Certifications

All states require architects to be licensed. To become licensed, architects must have a bachelor’s degree in architecture and have completed an internship. Once these two things are complete, architects sit the Architect Registration Examination. In order to keep their license, most states require some form of continuing education, which normally includes attending workshops, university classes, conferences and self-study courses.

How to Become

Summary

An architect uses their specialist construction knowledge and high-level drawing skills to designs for new construction projects, alterations and redevelopments. They focus on not only the buildings aesthetics, but also on its functionality. The overall employment of architects is expected to increase, but not at a fast rate. This is because architectural software is developing, which means architects are getting more productive and efficient and creating less job openings.

Immediate action

If becoming an architect appeals to you, then we recommend beginning to look at colleges near you that offer architecture degrees. Furthermore, it will be beneficial to have some relevant work experience, so it is advisable to see if you could get a low level job in an architecture firm or another creative industry.

Education and learning

To become an architect, you will need to achieve a bachelor’s degree in Architecture, which typically takes 5 years. Many architects will also earn a master’s degree in architecture, which can take an additional 1 to 5 years. After this, they must gain relevant experience through a paid internship, that generally lasts 3 years.

All states require architects to be licensed. To become licensed, architects sit the Architect Registration Examination.

Skill development

Architects will learn many of their skills through their education and training. Similarly, in order to keep their license, most states require some form of continuing education, which will further develop their skills.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Architect careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33382 CAD Engineer Male 30 $47,000 Ashburn, VA 01/01/2010
32729 Project Manager Male 46 $67,250 Temple, GA 01/01/2010

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