So, you want a career in Architecture?

As an Architect, we are involved in all phases of design and construction process, from meeting with clients to discuss plans for the building to instructing the users of the completed building on how to use its systems. While aesthetics (the look of a building) are important in design, architects also incorporate function, safety and efficiency into their designs, as well as the specific needs and wants of their clients.

Once clients accept the architect’s building proposal, architects get to work on the final construction documents. These include a building’s appearance, as well as construction details like drawings of its structural system; air-conditioning, heating and ventilating systems; electrical systems; communications systems; plumbing; and site plans. Architects must follow building codes, zoning laws, fire regulations and any applicable ordinances.

As Architects work on projects, they coordinate details with engineers, interior designers, landscape architects and other professionals, which requires a great deal of communication and organization. The ability to clearly and effectively communicate is vital for successful architects. Architects are constantly explaining their projects and their components to clients, construction contractors and others involved in the building process.

Some architects and architecture firms specialize in one type of building, like hospitals, schools or residential housing. Other Architects do minimal design work and instead focus on land planning or construction management. Their projects may include an individual building or an entire community, like a residential housing development or a university campus.

The median annual wages of wage-and-salary architects was $70,320 in May 2008, according to the 2010-11 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor. And although opportunities are geographically sensitive, employment of architects is expected to increase by 16 percent between 2010 and 2018. A high percentage of architects are self-employed as we are in my firm. According to the BLS, about 21 percent of architects worked for themselves in 2008, which is three times more than most other occupations. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), of which we are a certified member, estimates that there are approximately 105,000 licensed architects in the United States.

Becoming a licensed architect is no easy task. It takes many years to fulfill the three-step process that includes: education, experience and examination.

Education:  In most states, architects must first earn a professional degree in architecture from one of the 117 schools of architecture that offer programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Students can pursue three main professional degrees: a five year bachelor of architecture; a two-year master of architecture after earning an undergraduate degree in architecture or a related field; or a three- or four-year master of architecture after earning an undergraduate degree in an unrelated discipline. (To search through a listing of accredited programs, go to the NAAB website,

Training:  After earning a qualified professional degree, graduates work under the supervision of licensed architects during a period of practical training or internship. This period must last for at least three years, but in many cases, time spent interning while still in college can be applied toward this requirement. After graduating from a professional architecture program, some architects also continue their studies by earning a graduate degree in a specialized subset of architecture, such as design theory, healthcare facilities, sustainable building or interior design.

Licensing:  To be called an “architect,” individuals must pass all divisions of the Architect Registration Examination, which is required in all states. Because building codes, materials, technology and public tastes change, most states require architects to keep current and maintain their licensure by earning continuing education credits. In addition, some architects seek the NCARB certification, which is useful for those who want to become licensed in another or multiple states.

Any students interested in a career in architecture may contact me by email at: for further information. Please visit our web site at to see how our education, experience and licensing meets the above criteria.


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