How To Become an Architect

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: September 14, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Real Estate
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Are you interested in learning about how to become an architect? This exciting career pays well and tends to be very rewarding. Of course, you will need the right education and training to become an architect.

Before going down the career path to becoming an architect, you want to make sure it’s the career for you. If you enjoy the design and construction of buildings, this career might fit pretty well. Let’s look closer at the job duties of an architect and how to become an architect.

How To Become an Architect

Job Duties of an Architect

As an architect, you will be a licensed professional trained in the art and science of designing buildings. Your main job duty will be to provide the design for the construction of buildings. This type of job also includes overseeing the safety and the functionality of the buildings.

Some of the most common job duties for an architect include:

Architects come in many different types and they are found in different industries. Regardless of your industry, your main job duties will include planning and designing the components of a structure.

How To Become an Architect in 6 Steps

Step #1 – Finish High School

Some architecture programs are rather selective and competitive. You will need to finish high school and likely do very well in your math classes. If computer-aided design or other design courses are offered, these can be good for a high school student looking to become an architect.

You will also want to score high on the SAT or ACT. With the right prep course, you can boost your score on these tests. Higher scores might lead to acceptance into a better degree program for architecture.

Step #2 – Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

You will need a bachelor’s degree in most states to become an architect. This is a unique program in some states and will take five years to complete. The program needs to be accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. Currently, you can choose from 176 different programs with this accreditation across the country.

During your bachelor’s degree program, you will study building systems, environmental planning, project management, and impact analysis. You will have a pretty set schedule of courses. This type of degree program can be a bit intense.

Step #3 – Complete an Internship

You will need to complete an internship to become an architect. This is an important part of the process if you want to get your license. Internships often last three years and offer valuable experience you can use to further your career as an architect.

It’s common to find internships through your college or through the Intern Development Program in your state. You will need to complete 5,600 hours of experience in architecture as a part of your internship. These hours will include experience in design, pre-design, project management, and practice management.

Step #4 – Get Your License

Once you’ve completed all the state requirements, including an internship, you will need to take the licensing exam. This exam is known as the Architect Registration Examination. Most states require a bachelor’s degree and completion of your internship before you can take the exam.

Once you pass this seven-part exam, you will become a licensed architect. It’s a pass-or-fail exam.

Step #5 – Gain Professional Certifications

The right certifications can help you advance your architecture career. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards offers many certifications. Depending on the type of architect you become, you may need certifications to gain employment.

Step #6 – Get Your Master’s Degree

While it’s not a requirement to become an architect, getting a master’s degree can open many doors. With a master’s degree, you can work in research or even become a teacher of architecture. It can also be very desirable for top employers.

Most Common Types of Architects

If you want to become an architect, you likely will need to choose the type of architect you want to become. There are several career options. Here are the most common types of architects to consider for your career.

These four types of architects are rather common in the construction industry today. You can also become a landscape architect, an interior design architect, a green design architect, an industrial architect, or a residential architect. Within each of the four main categories above, there are specialties, as well.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an Architect

How much can I make as an architect?

If you become an architect, you will enjoy a higher salary than many other occupations. The average salary for an architect is about $104K per year. Some employers pay more than $150K per year for architects, especially those with experience.

Your actual salary will depend on your location and your experience level. Austin, Texas is the highest paying location with an average salary of about $128K for architects. Washington D.C., Houston, Chicago, and New York City all have average salaries above the national average, as well.

You can also earn more as an architect with the right skills. Communication skills are very valuable in this field. Earning the CCIE certification or the CCNP certification can also help you earn a higher salary as an architect.

What type of employee benefits are common for architects?

When you become an architect, you will enjoy many benefits. The most common benefits for architects include health insurance with dental and vision insurance, a 401(k), the ability to work from home, and paid time off. Some architects will also get a flexible spending account and stock options.

Do I need a degree to become an architect?

Yes, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree to work as an architect. About 70% of architects have a bachelor’s degree, while 23% have a master’s degree. Only about 4% of architects have a doctoral degree. An advanced degree can help you earn a higher salary and open up more job opportunities, however.

Which type of architect is paid the highest salary?

Some architects are better paid than others. If you become a building architect, you will likely be at the top of the pay scale. This is especially true if you work for commercial builders, factories, restaurants, or theatres.

Landscape architects are also well paid if they design parks, gardens, and playgrounds. Another unique option, which is very well-paid, is a naval architect. This type of architect designs boats, ships, and submarines.

What type of hours does an architect work?

While this is known as a high-paying career, it’s also known as one with long work hours. Architects tend to work longer hours. When you’re not working on designs, you may be visiting buildings, discussing structures, reading about other architects, or photographing buildings.

It’s common for architects to work long hours, especially during certain parts of a project. Some architects will take off several weeks in between projects due to the long hours.

Can I work from home as an architect?

Yes. While many architects used to work in an office environment, this is now a common work-from-home career. However, you won’t spend all of your time at home. There are many duties you can do from a home office, but you will still need to visit construction sites and handle some things outside of your home office.

Those with skills in design will make good architects. If you love the idea of designing beautiful buildings, this may be the right career for you. Use the steps about how to become an architect and map out your career path.

to become an architect, you must complete your first professional degree in architecture. A first professional degree is a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.