Architecture Professions: Overview of the Architecture Related Careers

Architect programs teach students about the design and construction of different structures, such as buildings and bridges. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Professions in the field of architecture include being an architect, an architectural technician, or an architectural drafter. Technicians may opt to complete a certificate or associate's degree; drafters must have an associate's degree to be qualified to enter their career field. Architects are required to have a bachelor's degree, and must be licensed.

Essential Information

The educational requirements for architects today vary, but a bachelor's degree is typically preferred. The work environment for these professionals usually revolves around office settings, where drafting and reviewing concepts for structures is performed. In order for architects to contract themselves within the United States, a license must be acquired. In order to get this license, students must pass the Architect Registration Examination and gain field experience. For those hoping to enter the field but do not wish to take on a four-year program, technical certificates and associate degrees are sufficient credentials for architectural technicians and drafters.

Career Architect Architectural Technician Architectural Drafter
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Associate's degree or technical school certificate Associate's degree
Other Requirements Experience with a paid internship and passage of the Architect Registration Exam Experience with CADD programs Certifications optional
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% -1% for drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians -3% for all drafters
Median Salary $76,100 (2015)* $45,781 (2016)** $50,710 for architectural and civil drafters (2015)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Career Options

Students who get their degrees in architecture can go on to many lucrative careers. While a bachelor's degree is required to become an architect, an associate's degree is sufficient for architectural drafters and architectural technicians. Below are overviews and descriptions of three potential career options for architecture majors.

Architect

Architects work with engineers, technicians and clients to design safe and functional structures ranging from dams to homes. These professionals meet with clients to determine the parameters, needs and functions of proposed projects. Accordingly, they may play a role in generating project bids and budgets.

Once both parties have agreed on all aspects, architects begin the design phase. This may include planning the layout of electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems. Architects generally use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software to facilitate the design process and make modifications easier. These professionals are also responsible for ensuring that designs meet building codes, city ordinances and government regulations.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated jobs for architects to increase 7% from 2014 to 2024. This average level of job growth can be attributed to the development and construction of new structures in various industries and areas of the country. In May 2015, the median annual salary of architects, except landscape and naval architects, was $76,100, according to the BLS.

Architectural Technician

Architectural technicians confer with architects to prepare sketches and designs for construction projects. These professionals help size building systems, machinery and components. For example, an architectural technician may be given a floor plan of a building and asked to review specifications or lay out the placement of an electrical conduit. Other duties may include using CADD programs to adjust designs based on project changes. The BLS reports that anticipated jobs for drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians are expected to decrease 1% between 2014 and 2024. Payscale.com reports that the median salary per year for these technicians is $45,781 as of October 2016.

Architectural Drafter

Architectural drafters consult with architects and project engineers to create drawings for prospective structures. Drafters typically work under general supervision in an office environment and use drawing tools to produce sketches and verify measurements. Like architects and technicians, drafters may also use CADD tools to evaluate, replicate and reproduce designs.

Employment of drafters was expected to decrease by 3% from 2014 to 2024, per BLS reports, which is much slower than average. The BLS noted in 2015 that architectural and civil drafters earned a median salary of $50,710 annually.

Architectural technicians and drafters use computer-aided design software and produce designs and sketches for projects. Architects design structures, and may work on things such as dams, homes or commercial properties. Computer software is reducing the need for technicians and drafters, and the best job prospects in this field from 2014 to 2024 will be for architects.


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