Sustainable Architecture Jobs: Career Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed have a career in sustainable architecture. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

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Sustainable architecture is the focus on architectural development that minimizes damage or impact to the environment. Professionals in this field typically have a bachelor's degree in architecture and their license, although a master's degree may be required for advancement.

Essential Information

Individuals employed as sustainable architects focus on building design and construction that lessens the impact of urban development on the environment. They create buildings that require less land development, use more environmentally friendly materials and are more energy efficient. Most jobs require at least a bachelor's degree related to architecture, although some require a master's degree in a specialized field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in architecture or related field
Other Requirements Master's degree for advanced positions
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% for landscape architects
Median Salary (2015)* $63,810 annually for landscape architects

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options in Sustainable Architecture

Sustainable Architects

Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that architects focusing on sustainability would receive significant interest from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). Workers in this field blend architectural design with environmental awareness. They advocate the use of building materials less harmful to the environment and design structures that require less natural resources, such as electricity, water and petroleum products. Sustainable architects work in the public and private sectors, with work ranging from the design of private office buildings to the development of 'green' residential neighborhoods.

Preservation Architects

Architects who focus on historical restoration and design may work as preservation architects. These individuals remodel old buildings to create affordable housing and commercial spaces. These architects often research historical documents and blueprints to gain a better perspective on how to blend older construction techniques with current methods and technology.

Cities may hire preservation architects to maintain the historical look of older districts, while simultaneously updating structures to meet current building and environmental codes. Homeowners may hire them to draw remodeling plans for older or historical properties that reduce a home's energy costs through the use of eco-friendly insulation and other green products.

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects create visually pleasing landscapes that have the least impact or intrusion on the natural environment. These individuals examine local plant life, soil composition and nearby structures at landscaping sites in determining their design. They frequently meet with clients to determine the functionality of landscapes and plan ways to lessen the environmental impact of proposed designs. Some individuals focus on multiple aspects of landscape design, while others specialize in areas such as road construction or communal spaces.

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Sustainable Architecture Job Requirements

Education

Most careers in architecture require a bachelor's degree or higher, according to the BLS. Pertinent undergraduate degrees are available in landscape architecture, sustainable architecture and urban design. Almost all undergraduate and graduate programs require a significant amount of studio hours so students can practice drafting and design techniques, and methodology.

Several sustainability degree programs are at the graduate level. Also, graduate-level certificates in sustainability are available that take less time to earn than a master's degree. Graduate coursework may include ecology, sustainable design and environmental technology. Landscape programs may require courses such as horticulture, visual design, geology and site planning.

Licensing

Individuals need a state license to work as an architect, according to the BLS. Each state has separate licensing qualifications, but they usually require that individuals earn an architecture-related degree followed by gaining work experience in the field. Individuals must then pass an examination. Many states require licensed architects to receive continuing education training.

Specialized licenses and certification are required for certain careers. For example, the BLS reported that most states require landscape architects to take a different exam from regular architects. Preservation architects may need to complete a separate training and licensing program to legally remove hazardous materials, such as asbestos, from old buildings under renovation.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

From 2014 to 2024, jobs for architects, excluding landscape and naval, were expected to increase by 7%, and employment for landscape architects was predicted to grow by 5%, per the BLS. The first group of architects earned a median annual salary of $76,100, in 2015, while landscape architects brought home a median of $63,810 per year, the BLS states.

Designing and developing structures that are environmentally friendly is the objective of sustainable architecture. Professionals in this field, either structural or landscape architects, focus on developing designs that are energy efficient and created with materials that don't damage the environment. They also emphasize designs that minimize the amount of land used for the structure.

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