At the undergraduate level, students can enroll in 5-year professional bachelor's degree programs in architecture to prepare for careers as licensed residential architects. Some schools also offer 4-year bachelor's degree programs in architecture that can prepare graduates to enroll in a professional master's degree program.
While diploma programs in architecture are not offered in the U.S., students might also consider a certificate program in architectural technology that can prepare them for careers as architectural drafters or technicians.
Certificate Programs in Architectural Technology
Certificate programs in architectural technology prepare students for careers assisting architects by creating drawings and electronic simulations of architectural plans. Students interested in residential architecture can pursue careers with residential development or architectural firms. A high school diploma or equivalent is necessary for admission into certificate programs. Students learn the technical skills necessary to create drawings and simulations of architectural plans. Coursework includes:
- Computer-aided drawing
- Architectural drafting
- History of architecture
- Architectural rendering
Professional Bachelor's Degree Programs in Residential Architecture
While professional bachelor's degree programs in architecture tend to focus on architecture as a whole, students may be able to pursue an area of interest in residential architecture. Most programs incorporate studio time where students can work on a design project in their area of interest. Students may also choose elective courses based on their interests.
Students typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to be admitted into bachelor's degree programs in architecture. Some programs require students to complete their first year of college-level general education study before being admitted into the professional architecture program. Students learn theory and design as well as the skills required for professional practice. Topics of study include:
- Architectural theory
- Building systems
- Structural and environmental systems
- Planning theories
- Professional practices
- Building materials
Pre-Professional Bachelor's Degree Programs in Residential Architecture
Some schools offer 4-year programs in architecture that do not culminate in a professional degree. Students planning to become licensed architects need to continue on to a professional graduate-degree program to be eligible for licensing. The pre-professional degree programs are designed for students pursuing careers in areas such as residential planning or community development, or who intend to pursue government agency work or a graduate degree in architecture or a related area.
Students typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to be admitted into these programs. The curriculum for non-professional degrees in architecture provides a solid foundation in architecture history and theories. Courses might include:
- Architectural design
- Computer-aided design
- Construction materials
- Structural design
Popular Career Options
Students with a degree in architecture who don't intend to become professional architects might consider careers in planning, technology or community development. Some job options might include:
- City planner
- Regional planner
- Architectural historian
- Architectural preservationist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Employment of architectural and civil drafters was expected to show a 3% decline during the period from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Median annual wages for architectural drafters were $52,720 as of May 2015, according to the BLS. Architects are expected to experience a 7% job growth during the period from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. The median annual salary for architects was $76,100 as of May 2015, the BLS reported.
Architectural drafters might consider continuing on to a bachelor's degree program to advance their careers. Sometimes, credits earned from certificate programs transfer to degree programs.
After completing a professional degree program in architecture, students still need to complete at least one year of professional experience before they are eligible for licensing. With experience gained through internships or an assistant position with a licensed architect, aspiring architects take the Architect Registration Examination, administered by test consultant Prometric, and apply for a state license. Most states require architects to participate in continuing education to maintain their licensure.
Students intending to become licensed architects continue on to a graduate professional program in architecture, such as a Master of Architecture, from a non-professional program. Some students may consider other graduate programs in architecture, such as a Master of Science in Architecture, which are intended for students interested in research and academic careers related to architecture.
Certificate programs and bachelor's degrees are among the undergraduate options available to students interested in the field of architecture. Certificate programs can prepare graduates for architectural drafting careers, while bachelor's degrees can prepare students to earn architect licensure, pursue community planning and development careers or continue their education in a master's degree program.