Architectural Studies Careers: Options and Requirements

Jun 15, 2021

If you are interested in a career in architecture, consider becoming a building architect, landscape architect, or architectural drafter. A bachelor's degree and license are required to work as a building or landscape architect, but it's possible to become an architectural drafter without postsecondary training, though most employers prefer applicants with a relevant associate's degree.

Essential Information

Architectural professionals are often innovators, using new technologies and building design elements to improve energy efficiency and create ergonomic work and living spaces. To pursue an architectural career, you must have excellent analytical, organizational, and technical skills. Many students choose to become building or landscape architects, while others prefer designing or drafting. The job of an architect requires a rigorous education program along with acquiring a license. To work in the architectural field, all applicants need some form of professional training.

Careers Building Architect Landscape Architect Architectural Drafter
Required Education Bachelor's degree in architecture Bachelor or masters in landscape architecture Associate's degree in drafting
Other Requirements internship, license internship or apprenticeship, license Associate's degree, optional certificate
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 1% -2% -3%
Median Annual Salary (2020)* $82,320 $70,630 $57,500

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Most architectural students have an interest in blending science with art to create practical and aesthetically pleasing buildings and landscapes. Students pursing formal education in architectural studies can choose from a variety of career options. Depending on the degree program and concentration of study, students can go on to become architects, landscape architects or architectural drafters.

Building Architects

Building architects combine artistry, engineering, and construction knowledge to design the private and public buildings and structures that people inhabit every day. Along with aesthetics, they must consider a variety of factors, such as safety, building codes, functionality and construction costs. Building architects participate in the entire construction process, coordinating with clients, contractors, engineers, urban planners and other professionals. While they perform much of their work from offices, building architects often visit construction sites to monitor development.

While requirements vary according to state, there are three specific requirements for becoming an architect. Candidates must first earn at least a bachelor's degree in architecture from a degree program approved by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. After graduation, all states require candidates to complete internship or similar training programs established by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. These internships usually last about three years, and upon completion, architects can sit for the Architect Registration Examination and obtain the licensure mandatory for serving as an architect. Depending on the state, architects may be required to complete continuing education to maintain licensure.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of structural architects is projected to increase by 1% from 2019 to 2029 ( This figure represents occupational growth that's slower than average. Based on May 2020 reports from the BLS, these professionals earned an annual median salary of $82,320.

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design outside spaces, such as gardens, playgrounds, parks and golf courses. They lay out scenic sites and incorporate man-made and natural elements around existing features, such as buildings, roads and trees. Along with aesthetic planning, they make business decisions throughout the entire landscaping process and collaborate with clients, building architects and engineers as projects progress. They must also take into account budgeting, zoning and government regulations.

Most states require landscape architects to obtain licensure. Licensing procedures vary according to state, but typically entail earning bachelor's or master's degrees in landscape architecture from a college accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Most students gain experience under the supervision of qualified professionals through internship or apprenticeship programs. After earning 1-4 years of supervised work experience, candidates can take the Landscape Architect Registration Examination to earn licensure.

The BLS expects a 2% decrease in job opportunities for landscape architects during the 2019-2029 decade. As stated by the BLS, these architects earned a median salary of $70,630 in 2020.

Architectural Drafters

Architectural drafters use artistry and computer-aided drafting software to design blueprints for buildings and other structures. They use measurements and sketches provided by architects and engineers to create comprehensive diagrams, which construction workers use during the building process. Many drafters work in architectural and engineering firms, often as temporary or contract workers.

Formal education is not required for a career in architectural drafting; however, employers typically prefer candidates with some postsecondary training. Community colleges and technical institutes offer associate's degree programs in architectural drafting. These programs usually take two years to complete and train students in practical applications of drafting in entry-level positions. Courses may include computer-assisted drafting, building mechanics, technical communications, and sketching and engineering design.

Based on BLS estimates in May of 2020, architectural and civil drafters received a median wage of $57,500. The BLS also predicts that employment opportunities for all drafters will decline by 4%, between 2019 and 2029. The decline is due to the increased use of computer software to perform some tasks previously done by drafters.

Building architects design structures for residential or commercial use, and must consider building materials and safety codes when developing their design plan. Landscape architects create outdoor areas, such as golf courses or parks, and architectural drafters produce the blueprints for the structures designed by architects. While jobs are expected to decline architectural drafters and landscape architects from 2019 to 2029, building architects will enjoying the best prospects during this time period.

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