An architectural degree at the baccalaureate level is the most common type of architecture degree and the minimum educational requirement for the field. These programs last 1-5 years, depending if a student selects a Bachelor of Science in Architecture or a Bachelor of Architecture. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED.
While not customary, some employers may require applicants to possess a master's degree. After graduation and before being eligible for licensure, architecture graduates must work as interns for at least three years. Internships completed during college typically count toward the required three years. Additionally, most architectural firms require architects to be familiar with computer applications such as AutoCAD and Microsoft Office, and prefer those who can work with 3-dimensional modeling software. A bachelor's degree is usually required for admission into these programs.
All states require architects to be licensed. Voluntary professional certifications are often preferred.
Bachelor of Science in Architecture
At the B.S. level, students gain a foundation in architectural concepts and sketching, which prepare them for graduate studies in architecture or work in an architecture-related field. They study the history of architecture and structures and learn about architecture in relation to culture. Students also learn basics of architectural computer programs.
Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.)
Unlike a B.S. in Architecture, which offers a general overview of architecture, a B.Arch. underscores professional design and drawing skills and leads to licensure as an architect. In a Bachelor of Architecture program, students learn about design theories, construction methods and, building materials.
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Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)
Many colleges offer Master of Architecture programs to cater to students at different levels who may or may not have had previous architectural training. Students take part in many studio classes that emphasize practical design and learn about trends in architecture. Those who already have professional degrees may be able to specialize in particular areas, such as metropolitan planning or green construction.
Some architects are self-employed and others work for architectural firms or government organizations. Consequently, required experience can range from 3-10 years, depending on the size of the company and individual responsibility level. Prior experience with specific project designs, such as schools or hospitals may also be necessary.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Architectural organizations like the American Institute of Architects (www.aia.org) often sponsor industry conferences and conventions, which generally last three days. Attendees may earn continuing education credits towards licensure renewal from taking part in seminars and workshops. Webinars are also available to be downloaded or as live feeds, often running for an hour or two. Architects looking for everyday enrichment can subscribe to online or printed publications. Architectural discussion boards and blogs are also available and provide news, networking, and client prospecting opportunities.
Every state requires architects to obtain licensure. In order to qualify for this licensure, applicants must pass the Architect Registration Exam, have earned a professional architecture degree and completed three years of internship training. In order to maintain licensure, architects must fulfill continuing education requirements every 1-2 years.
Licensed architects can earn voluntary certifications from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (www.ncarb.org). Some employers may also prefer architectural applicants with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which is offered by the Green Building Certification Institute (www.gbci.org).
Students interested in becoming a licensed architect will be able to do so by entering either a Bachelor of Science in architecture or the Bachelor of Architecture degree program; they also have the option of continuing on to each their Master of Architecture degree. Licensure is required to work as an architect and continuing education to renew licensure will be required every 1-2 years.