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Become An Architect

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Working As An Architect

  • Thinking Creatively
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $60,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Architect Do

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.


Architects typically do the following:

  • Meet with clients to determine objectives and requirements for structures
  • Give preliminary estimates on cost and construction time
  • Prepare structure specifications
  • Direct workers who prepare drawings and documents
  • Prepare scaled drawings, either with computer software or by hand
  • Prepare contract documents for building contractors
  • Manage construction contracts
  • Visit worksites to ensure that construction adheres to architectural plans
  • Seek new work by marketing and giving presentations

People need places to live, work, play, learn, shop, and eat. Architects are responsible for designing these places. They work on public or private projects and design both indoor and outdoor spaces. Architects can be commissioned to design anything from a single room to an entire complex of buildings.

Architects discuss the objectives, requirements, and budget of a project with clients. In some cases, architects provide various predesign services, such as feasibility and environmental impact studies, site selection, cost analyses, and design requirements.

Architects develop final construction plans after discussing and agreeing on the initial proposal with clients. These plans show the building’s appearance and details of its construction. Accompanying these plans are drawings of the structural system; air-conditioning, heating, and ventilating systems; electrical systems; communications systems; and plumbing. Sometimes, landscape plans are included as well. In developing designs, architects must follow state and local building codes, zoning laws, fire regulations, and other ordinances, such as those requiring easy access to buildings for people who are disabled.

Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) and building information modeling (BIM) have replaced traditional drafting paper and pencil as the most common methods for creating designs and construction drawings. However, hand-drawing skills are still required, especially during the conceptual stages of a project and when an architect is at a construction site.

As construction continues, architects may visit building sites to ensure that contractors follow the design, adhere to the schedule, use the specified materials, and meet work-quality standards. The job is not complete until all construction is finished, required tests are conducted, and construction costs are paid.

Architects may also help clients get construction bids, select contractors, and negotiate construction contracts.

Architects often collaborate with workers in related occupations, such as civil engineers, urban and regional planners, drafters, interior designers, and landscape architects.

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How To Become An Architect

There are typically three main steps to becoming a licensed architect: completing a professional degree in architecture, gaining relevant experience through a paid internship, and passing the Architect Registration Examination.


In all states, earning a professional degree in architecture is typically the first step to becoming an architect. Most architects earn their professional degree through a 5-year Bachelor of Architecture degree program, intended for students with no previous architectural training. Many earn a master’s degree in architecture, which can take 1 to 5 years in addition to the time spent earning a bachelor’s degree. The amount of time required depends on the extent of the student’s previous education and training in architecture.

A typical bachelor’s degree program includes courses in architectural history and theory, building design with an emphasis on computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), structures, construction methods, professional practices, math, physical sciences, and liberal arts. Central to most architectural programs is the design studio, where students apply the skills and concepts learned in the classroom to create drawings and three-dimensional models of their designs.

Currently, 34 states require that architects hold a professional degree in architecture from one of the 123 schools of architecture accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). State licensing requirements can be found at the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). In the states that do not have that requirement, applicants can become licensed with 8 to 13 years of related work experience in addition to a high school diploma. However, most architects in these states still obtain a professional degree in architecture.


All state architectural registration boards require architecture graduates to complete a lengthy paid internship—generally 3 years of experience—before they may sit for the Architect Registration Examination. Most new graduates complete their training period by working at architectural firms through the Intern Development Program (IDP), a program run by NCARB that guides students through the internship process. Some states allow a portion of the training to occur in the offices of employers in related careers, such as engineers and general contractors. Architecture students who complete internships while still in school can count some of that time toward the 3-year training period.

Interns in architectural firms may help design part of a project. They may help prepare architectural documents and drawings, build models, and prepare construction drawings on CADD. Interns may also research building codes and write specifications for building materials, installation criteria, the quality of finishes, and other related details. Licensed architects will take the documents that interns produce, make edits to them, finalize plans, and then sign and seal the documents.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states and the District of Columbia require architects to be licensed. Licensing requirements typically include completing a professional degree in architecture, gaining relevant experience through a paid internship, and passing the Architect Registration Examination.

Most states also require some form of continuing education to keep a license, and some additional states are expected to adopt mandatory continuing education. Requirements vary by state but usually involve additional education through workshops, university classes, conferences, self-study courses, or other sources.

A growing number of architects voluntarily seek certification from NCARB. This certification makes it easier to become licensed across states, because it is the primary requirement for reciprocity of licensing among state boards that are NCARB members. In 2014, approximately one-third of all licensed architects had the certification.


After many years of work experience, some architects advance to become architectural and engineering managers. These managers typically coordinate the activities of employees and may work on larger construction projects.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Architects must understand the content of designs and the context in which they were created. For example, architects must understand the locations of mechanical systems and how those systems affect building operations.

Communication skills. Architects share their ideas, both in oral presentations and in writing, with clients, other architects, and workers who help prepare drawings. Many also give presentations to explain their ideas and designs.

Creativity. Architects design the overall look of houses, buildings, and other structures. Therefore, the final product should be attractive and functional.

Organizational skills. Architects often manage contracts. Therefore, they must keep records related to the details of a project, including total cost, materials used, and progress.

Technical skills. Architects need to use CADD technology to create plans as part of building information modeling (BIM).

Visualization skills. Architects must be able to see how the parts of a structure relate to each other. They also must be able to visualize how the overall building will look once completed.

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Architect jobs

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Architect Career Paths

Solutions Architect Senior Manager Director Of Information
Chief Technology Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Management Consultant Manager And Consultant
Consultant/Marketing Director
11 Yearsyrs
Solutions Architect Program Manager Senior Project Manager
Director Of Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Construction Manager Area Manager Senior Manager
Director Of Enterprise Architecture
14 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Manager Senior Product Manager Senior Manager
Director Of Information
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Senior Project Manager
Director Of Project Management
12 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Consultant Senior Software Engineer
Director Of Software Development
12 Yearsyrs
Project Architect Senior Project Manager
Director Program Management
13 Yearsyrs
Assistant Project Manager Facilities Manager Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Interior Designer Project Coordinator Business Analyst
Information Technology Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Consultant Showroom Manager Interior Designer
Interior Designer/Project Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Chief Technology Officer Technical Consultant Information Technology Project Manager
Manager, Project Management
10 Yearsyrs
Project Architect Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Interior Designer Design Manager
Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Architectural Designer Project Manager Construction Manager
Senior Construction Manager
14 Yearsyrs
Project Coordinator Project Engineer Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Manager Program Director General Manager
Senior Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager
Senior Project Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Architectural Designer Project Architect Senior Project Manager
Senior Project Manager Construction
14 Yearsyrs
Construction Manager Operations Manager Program Manager
Technical Director
7 Yearsyrs
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Architect Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • German

  • Italian

  • Arabic

  • Portuguese

  • Japanese

  • Russian

  • Mandarin

  • Chinese

  • Carrier

  • Hindi

  • Cantonese

  • Polish

  • Hebrew

  • Ukrainian

  • Marathi

  • Dutch

  • Korean

  • Croatian

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Architect Education


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Real Architect Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Platform Architect Faraday & Future Inc. Santa Clara, CA Oct 10, 2016 $250,000
Ds-Vs Product Architect Fast Enterprises LLC Bismarck, ND Sep 24, 2015 $212,000
Mcl/Interfirm Architect Baker and McKenzie Global Services LLC Chicago, IL Nov 15, 2016 $205,000
F5 Architect Populus Group LLC Livonia, MI Jan 08, 2016 $204,526
F5 Architect Populus Group LLC Lansing, MI Dec 16, 2016 $204,526
Concept Architect Infineon Technologies North America Corp Torrance, CA Jun 10, 2015 $203,954
Architect Cloudsimple, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Jan 08, 2016 $200,000
BPM Architect Peterson Technology Partners Inc. Rolling Meadows, IL Jul 15, 2015 $200,000
Architect F5 Networks, Inc. San Jose, CA Nov 15, 2016 $197,600 -
MTS 2, Architect Paypal, Inc. San Jose, CA Oct 06, 2016 $194,868
Architect of Instore Services Wal-Mart Associates, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jan 20, 2016 $190,000
Cloud Architect Ellie Mae, Inc. Pleasanton, CA Feb 25, 2016 $190,000
Architect SLK America Inc. Memphis, TN Jan 09, 2015 $90,657
Lmts-Architect, Foundation Schneider Enterprise Resources Green Bay, WI Mar 20, 2015 $90,584 -
Apigee Architect Asap Solutions Group Atlanta, GA Feb 19, 2015 $90,576
.NET Architect Alexan Consulting Enterprise Services Sacramento, CA Oct 26, 2016 $90,522
Architect 2-EBI (Enterprise Business Integration) (Multiple Openings) Wipro Limited East Brunswick, NJ Oct 30, 2015 $90,459
Architect 2-EBI (Enterprise Business Integration) (Multiple Openings) Wipro Limited East Brunswick, NJ Oct 19, 2015 $90,459
Architect 2-.NET (Multiple Openings) Wipro Limited East Brunswick, NJ Jun 10, 2015 $90,459
Portfolio Architect Cloudwick Technologies Inc. Phoenix, AZ Aug 18, 2015 $73,258 -
Architect Bestor Architecture Los Angeles, CA Jan 09, 2016 $73,200
Architect S. D. S. Engineering, Inc. CA Jul 25, 2016 $73,174
Architect RCGA Architects-Interior Designers NY Sep 01, 2015 $73,045
Product Architect Aerotek, Inc. Lake Oswego, OR Apr 04, 2016 $73,045
Product Architect EASI, LLC Lake Oswego, OR May 04, 2016 $73,045
Architect I-Link Solutions Inc. Albany, NY Aug 30, 2016 $73,000

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Top Skills for An Architect


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Top Architect Skills

  1. Architects
  2. Web Services
  3. Pl/Sql
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Prepared reports that formed basis of conceptual design to be developed by consulting architects and engineers.
  • Involved in writing the client for developed web services.
  • Adapt PL/SQL code to work with new RDBMS data structures and perform optimization of code.
  • Managed the analysis, and design of subject area data transformed from multiple source systems into the data warehouse.
  • Created a WAN infrastructure connecting 18 sites in the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Bermuda.

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