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Training to Become an Architect: Program Information

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 national licensure requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

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To become an architect, students must first pass an accredited bachelor's degree program in architecture or a master's degree if they have already completed an unrelated bachelor's degree program. Professional licensure can be obtained after practicing architects have acquired 3 years of experience in the field.

Essential Information

Architects mix math and science with creative design to plan the layout, appearance and function of various structures such as homes and office buildings. To become a licensed architect requires a professional bachelor's or master's degree in architecture and national licensure.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements National licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%*
Median Salary (2015) $76,100*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Training to Become an Architect

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), architects design structures, such as homes, office buildings, factories, sports arenas, churches, theaters, restaurants and hospitals (www.bls.gov). Architects often work with landowners, developers, construction workers, engineers and urban planners during the design and construction stages. They may specialize in a single type of building design or architectural service.

Program Information

Architects need a bachelor's degree from an accredited architectural program followed by work experience and the passage of a national licensing exam. Once licensed, architects must maintain their skills through continuing education.

Professional degree programs are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which maintains a list of 117 accredited architect training schools (www.naab.org). The NAAB accredits undergraduate and graduate programs. According to the BLS, a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) is a 5-year undergraduate program intended for individuals with no architectural training. Professional master's degree programs in architecture (M.Arch.) are available for individuals who have earned an undergraduate degree in another major, such as in construction management or engineering.

Architectural program coursework includes topics such as history and theory of architecture, structural principles, planning, construction materials and professional practice. Individuals may also study studio time drawing, model-making and computer-aided design. Master's degree programs last about 3 years and often require students to complete a thesis project and an advanced design portfolio.

Work Experience

The BLS states that architects are required to have at least 3 years of experience before seeking professional licensure. Upon earning their professional architecture degree, architects need to participate in the Intern Development Program (IDP) established by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Interns work under licensed architects who are legally responsible for their work. They assist with basic duties, such as construction design, projects and architectural research.

Licensing Requirements

Architects are required to be licensed in every state. After completion of the IDP internship, individuals must pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) to become a licensed architect. According to the NCARB, the ARE has seven divisions of testing. Each must be taken separately and all must be completed within 5 years.

Continuing Education

Most states require architects to receive continuing education to maintain their license. The American Institute of Architects offers continuing education options such as conferences, workshops and courses. The NCARB also offers continuing education programs.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted faster than average job growth of 7% for architects during the 2014-2024 decade. In 2015, the BLS published an annual median salary of $76,100 for these professionals.

Architects combine math, science, and design to create different types of buildings and residences. Architectural programs include courses on architectural history and theory, planning and construction materials. An architect's education and training must be maintained even after completing their degree program and achieving licensure.

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