Architect: Educational Requirements and Career Summary

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an architect. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

Architects do much more than create designs for buildings: they help oversee the process of a building's creation, advise people and organizations about building design and space usage, and consult on environmental assessments. Becoming a licensed architect requires extensive education at either the bachelor's or master's level, as well as successful completion of a multi-year internship and a licensing exam.

Essential Information

Architects design buildings and properties of all kinds. In order to become an architect, one must earn a professional bachelor's or master's degree in the field. In addition to formal education requirements, architects must complete an internship, often lasting three years, and pass an examination to qualify for state licensing.

Required Education A professional bachelor's or master's degree in architecture is required; completion of an internship
Licensure Passing the Architect Registration Exam is required for licensing in all states
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%*
Median Salary (2015) $76,100*

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

Educational Requirements

The BLS notes that in all states and the District of Columbia individuals must register or gain licensure before using the title of 'architect', or working as an architect. Before gaining licensure, architecture school graduates generally work in the field under the direction of an architect who is licensed and takes legal responsibility for any work that is done. Students can choose from a Bachelor of Architecture or Master of Architecture.

Bachelor of Architecture

Bachelor of Architecture degree programs typically last five years and include courses in the history of architecture, environmental controls and assessment of building uses. Students may be required to take design studio courses in which they examine issues related to building design and use what they've learned in lectures to present solutions to those issues. Some schools may allow up to eight years to earn this degree.

Master of Architecture

The master of architecture degree generally takes 2-3 years to complete and focuses on design studio courses. These courses may emphasize the relationship of buildings and their surroundings and how design affects the way an individual uses a room. Other courses may include building materials and sustainable design. Students must also complete research toward an original thesis.

Architect Career Overview

Architects are no longer restricted to designing buildings and structures; they also handle the processes of bringing buildings into place, while factoring in the consequences for communities and their environment. Architects use their creative skills to advise property owners, individuals, developers, community groups, local authorities and commercial organizations on the design and construction of new buildings, the reuse of existing buildings and the spaces that surround them, in our towns and cities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the work of architects influences all parts of our built environment, from integrating new buildings into sensitive contexts to the design of energy efficient facilities (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, most architects reported earnings between $46,080 and $125,520 annually, according to the BLS. Between 2014 and 2024, the number of employment opportunities for architects was expected to increase 7%, about the same rate as other job sectors.

Licensure

A professional degree in architecture, practical training or internship, and passing all divisions of the Architect Registration Exam, administered by the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB) are licensing requirements for individuals who want to use the professional title of 'architect.' (www.ncarb.com). The NCARB notes that each state may have their own licensure requirements.

It takes commitment to become an architect -- the bachelor's degree alone takes five years, and required internships can last as long as three years under a licensed architect's supervision. Then you have to pass the licensing exam. Many architects make good salaries after all this training, though, with the highest paid 10% earning more than $125,000 a year.

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