How to Become an

Architect

The complete career guide to be an Architect: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $82,850
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 6.9%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

Before construction begins on any new structure, an architect spends time formulating the plans for the structure. Architects are artists who use both talent and practicality to form plans for buildings before they’re built. They listen to client requests and turn those requests into actionable building plans.


What is an Architect?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in architect roles:

  • Meet with clients to discuss the needs for a project, as well as budget restrictions
  • Form building plans for a variety of structures, including single rooms and skyscrapers
  • Work with drafters to ensure plans are drafted into actionable blueprints
  • Create rough sketches of plans using hand-drawing and computer-aided design (CAD) techniques
  • Present plans to clients—along with early estimates for construction—for approval

A Day in the Life

When you ride the elevator in a building, relax in your favorite park, you watch the sunrise from your bedroom window, an architect likely made that possible. Architects create the plans for structures and developed outdoor areas. When a client comes to an architect, the architect is responsible to listening to the client’s needs, the requirements of what the client wants to build, and any budget limitations. With that knowledge, the architect begins forming a plan for the structure being proposed.

While forming a plan, the architect uses hand-sketches as well as more advanced tools like computer-aided design (CAD) software and 3-D printers to formulate pre-construction plans. The architect determines the layout of the structure, chooses what materials should be used in its construction, and works with a drafter to create blueprints to share with clients. The architect also usually comes up with early estimates for the construction of what’s being proposed to ensure his/her designs fall within project budget restrictions.

While the architect is designing, he/she meets frequently with the client to propose ideas and receive approvals. Once final approval is received, the architect monitors construction to ensure that all designs are being correctly interpreted to preserve the quality of the original designs. Some architects work for construction companies or government and build basic structures, and others work on a freelance basis and design unique structures that earn both the architect and company press for innovative design.

Typical Work Schedule

Most architect roles are full-time jobs conducted during normal business hours, though overtime may be required at times to meet deadlines. Architects who are self-employed have more flexible schedules and are able to set their own working hours.

Projected Job Growth

Demand for architects who specialize in environmentally friendly planning is expected to grow in the coming decade as more businesses are interested in building or renovating structures to reduce energy costs.

Typical Employers

Most architects work for architectural or engineering consulting companies. However, many also work for construction companies, for government agencies, or are self-employed and provide architectural services on a freelance basis.


How To Become an Architect

The first step in becoming an architect is to earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture. Most states require architects to obtain their degrees from an institution that’s accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), so look for schools with the proper accreditation. These programs typically require more study than traditional bachelor’s degree programs, with students commonly taking five years of coursework before graduation.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to earn professional experience before you’ll be able to become a licensed architect. Each state has its own licensing requirements, but many require three years of professional experience working under an experienced, licensed architect before professional licensure can be sought. This can be earned through internship programs while in college or in entry-level assistantship or apprenticeship programs after graduation.

After earning a degree and accruing the required experience, aspiring architects can take the Architect Registration Examination. If passed, you’ll be qualified to work as an architect. Some states may also require architects to meet continuing education requirements, so additional education and coursework may be required throughout your career to continue renewing your license to work as an architect. However, each state has its own regulations, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with your state’s specific requirements before pursuing a career as an architect.


Architect Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$58,870

Average

$82,850

High Range

$125,520

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$28/hr

Average

$40/hr

High Range

$60/hr

How do Architect salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Architect's can make an average annual salary of $82,850, or $40 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $58,870 or $28 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #129 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally


Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Architect. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.


Highest Education Among Architects

  • 8.2%   Doctorate
  • 31.9%   Masters
  • 49.1%   Bachelors
  • 4.7%   Associates
  • 4.6%   College
  • 1.3%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

112,600

2024 Est. Jobs

120,400

Job Growth Rate

6.9%

Est. New Jobs

7,800

How does Architect job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 7,800 jobs for a total of 120,400 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 6.9% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #322 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally


What Companies Employ The Most Architects

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 22,000 1,000 1%
Engineering services 7,300 1,100 1%
Federal government, excluding postal service 1,600 -200 0%

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