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Be a Project Architect: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a project architect. Learn about the job description and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a project architect. View article »

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  • 0:03 Become a Project Architect
  • 0:30 Career Requirements
  • 1:09 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 2:41 Become Licensed
  • 3:35 Complete a Master's Program
  • 3:56 Acquire Experience

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Video Transcript

Become a Project Architect

Project architects create plans and designs for houses and a variety of other buildings and structures. They frequently collaborate with engineers, draftsmen, and other professionals. An average workday may include meeting with clients and visiting worksites. A lot of the design work involves a computer and there are often deadlines to meet. Architects may work for a large firm or run a private practice.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree is standard
Degree Field Architecture
Licensure and Certification All 50 states require licensure; voluntary certification is available through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
Experience Five or more years of related project experience
Key Skills Analytical skills, creativity, visualization, communication, critical-thinking, organizational skills, knowledge of computer-aided design and drafting programs
Salary $82,850 (Median annual wage for all architects, excluding landscape and naval)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Online job postings (August 2015)

Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Step 1: Earn an Architecture Bachelor's Degree

A project architect position requires an individual to possess in-depth knowledge of complex subjects related to the architectural and construction professions, including the environmental impacts of a construction project, building codes, multiple residential and commercial building types, and blueprint drafting. Project architects must complete a high level of education, beginning with a bachelor's degree in architecture.

Schools offer pre-professional or traditional architecture programs resulting in a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree in architecture. These 4-year programs provide students with a foundational knowledge of design, material usage, environmental concerns, and the use of computer-aided design software. Bachelor of Architecture programs are five years of professional instruction that focus on preparing students for licensure and entry into the field.

Success Tip:

Complete an internship. Although the licensure regulations vary for every state, a requirement common to every state is the completion of work experience. Since an architect must be licensed in order to practice, the most common method for completing the necessary experience before licensure is through internships. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) created an Intern Development Program that's the recognized training standard for architects. The program generally takes three years, but it can be completed while in school.

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Become Licensed

Step 2: Become Licensed

After education and experience requirements are met, an individual can apply for state licensure. The NCARB examination is recognized by every state as setting the standard for competency in the field. The Architect Registration Examination (ARE) is a generalized test covering the basics of architecture and focusing on the need for public safety. Some topics covered include site planning and design, schematic design, structural systems, and building systems. Additionally, some states might require further work experience or the passage of state-issued testing.

Success Tip:

Take advantage of study material. The NCARB offers online practice programs for each topic of the ARE examination. Students should familiarize themselves with the exam and complete practice questions before sitting for the actual test.

Complete a Master's Program

Step 3: Complete a Master's Program

Although some states accept a bachelor's degree for licensure, graduate studies might be required, and advancing to a project architect position typically requires increased knowledge and skills. A Master of Architecture program usually requires a concentrated area of study and a thesis.

Acquire Experience

Step 4: Acquire Experience

After architects obtain licensure, they're ready to practice professionally by finding entry-level work with architectural firms. Although the requirements to become a project architect vary depending upon the needs of a company and the size and length of projects undertaken, most companies require at least five years of experience in architectural drafting, project management, and organization. The path to becoming a project architect involves demonstrating the ability to work well with a team and proving competency through experience.

Project architects must have a bachelor's degree in architecture, become licensed, complete a master's program, and acquire experience in order to succeed.

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