Architects need at least a bachelor's degree, state licensure, and often an internship or training program under their belt. Aspiring architects can choose from a myriad of professional programs from institutions across the country. During their time in these programs, architectural students learn how to create building plans using computers and design techniques.
Architects design private and public buildings and other structures. These professionals meet with clients and construction teams to discuss design plans, land survey information, and construction schedules. Architects often use computer-aided design (CAD) software to draft building plans, which they must submit for city or state approval. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that individuals typically earn bachelor's or master's degrees in architecture prior to starting the architect training and licensure process. The paid internship training process takes around three years to complete in most states, after which individuals should be eligible to take licensure exams. Some states may have additional education, training, or licensure requirements.
|Required Education||Bachelor of Architecture (professional degree), or master's degree in architecture|
|Other Requirements||Completion of a training internship; acquiring state licensure|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||7%*|
|Median Salary (2015)||Architects, except landscape and naval: $76,100*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Aspiring architects can begin their professional education as early as high school. Courses in art, mathematics, physics, history, social sciences, business and computer science can lay the groundwork for a career in architecture. Additionally, some schools of architecture offer summer programs for high school students.
At the college level, there are more than 100 architecture schools recognized by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. These schools offer at least one of the two degrees that can help qualify a student for licensure, including the 5-year Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) and the Master of Architecture (M.Arch.), which can last from 1-5 years, depending on a student's prior education. Coursework in typical architecture programs focuses on building design, computer-aided design and drafting, math and physical sciences. Doctoral degrees in architecture also are available.
Graduates from architecture programs are usually required to train under a licensed architect for at least three years prior to sitting for the licensing exam. Internships can be done at architectural or engineering firms or with general contractors. Interns are allowed to prepare documents and drawings, build models and design parts of building projects. Students who complete an internship while studying architecture may be able to deduct some of the time spent from the required training period.
Licensing and Certification Information
In the U.S., architects must be licensed, or registered, to work. In order to obtain licensure, one must earn a professional architecture degree, fulfill the training requirement and pass all nine divisions of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), which assesses an architect's skills, knowledge and ability to perform the practice of architecture. When the exam has been successfully passed, the architect is licensed in the state in which he or she took the exam.
Most states require continuing education to maintain licensure. Workshops, conferences, online courses and formal university training will qualify for the required continuing education credits.
Voluntary certification is available from the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB). Applicants must undergo verification of school transcripts, professional references and employment history records. In 2014, BLS records indicated that at least 33% of licensed architects held NCARB certification.
Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics
During the ten years between 2014 and 2024, the BLS predicted that available job opportunities for architects will increase by 7%. Job opportunities may be more prevalent for architects who specialize in sustainable design. In 2015, the median salary for architects was reported at $76,100, per the BLS.
Architects need a professional degree, state licensure and training in order to practice, and they often need continuing education to maintain their licensure. They can attend programs at a multitude of professional institutions and take courses in building design, math and computers. Architectural students can spend anywhere from 6-10 years earning relevant degrees and typically spend time completing an internship and gaining hands-on experience.