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Become An Architectural Designer

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Working As An Architectural Designer

  • 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

  • $53,824

    Average Salary

What Does An Architectural Designer Do

An Architectural Designer is specialized in planning and designing structures/urban landscapes. They ensure that company policies and standards are maintained when providing services to clients.

How To Become An Architectural Designer

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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Architectural Designer jobs

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Architectural Designer Career Paths

Architectural Designer
Job Captain Architect
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Project Designer Project Architect Construction Manager
Capital Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager General Manager Maintenance Technician
Chief Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Design Manager Senior Project Manager
Construction Consultant
11 Yearsyrs
Project Architect Project Manager
Construction Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Project Coordinator Property Manager General Contractor
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Interior Designer Senior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Architect Construction Manager Operations Director
Director Of Facilities
11 Yearsyrs
Structural Designer Project Engineer Assistant Project Manager
Estimator Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Construction Manager Maintenance Technician Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Manager Operations Manager Property Manager
General Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Job Captain Project Coordinator Assistant Project Manager
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Designer Interior Designer
Interior Designer/Project Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Interior Designer Project Coordinator Project Engineer
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Construction Manager
Senior Construction Manager
14 Yearsyrs
Project Designer Senior Designer
Senior Designer/Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Structural Designer Design Engineer Mechanical Design Engineer
Senior Mechanical Designer
11 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Project Manager Senior Project Manager
Senior Project Manager Construction
14 Yearsyrs
Project Coordinator Operations Manager Site Manager
Site/Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Field Engineer Assistant Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
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Architectural Designer Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Italian

  • Mandarin

  • German

  • Chinese

  • Arabic

  • Portuguese

  • Japanese

  • Russian

  • Irish

  • Persian

  • Korean

  • Cantonese

  • Hebrew

  • Romanian

  • Gujarati

  • Hindi

  • Dutch

  • Cornish

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Architectural Designer Education

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Real Architectural Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Architectural Designer LAR Ny LLC New York, NY Oct 01, 2015 $210,436
Architectural Designer III Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC New York, NY Dec 07, 2016 $150,000
Architectural Designer III Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC New York, NY Jul 12, 2016 $150,000
Architectural Designer Is Development New York, NY Sep 04, 2015 $150,000
Architectural Designer III Kohn Pederson Fox Associates PC New York, NY Aug 15, 2016 $135,000
Architectural Designer III Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC New York, NY Dec 07, 2016 $135,000
Architectural Designer III Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC New York, NY Jul 12, 2016 $135,000
Architectural Designer III Kohn Pederson Fox Associates PC New York, NY Aug 20, 2015 $135,000
Solution Architect, 4-Architecture/Design-Mobile&Web Api's Sutter Health Mather, CA Dec 19, 2016 $130,000
Architectural Designer LAR Ny LLC New York, NY Aug 30, 2016 $124,468
Architectural Designer Martin Brudnizki Design Studio LLC New York, NY Nov 08, 2016 $110,000
Landscape Architectural Designer Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jun 15, 2016 $101,733
Architectural Designer Grimshaw Architects P.C. New York, NY Sep 25, 2015 $60,686
Architectural Designer Adaptive Architecture Cupertino, CA Sep 23, 2016 $60,440
Architectural Designer Johnson Fain Los Angeles, CA Sep 30, 2016 $60,362
Architectural Designer 5 Design, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Oct 01, 2015 $60,362
Architectural Designer Li/Saltzman Architects PC New York, NY Feb 03, 2016 $60,320
Architectural Designer M3 Engineering & Technology Corporation Tucson, AZ Dec 15, 2016 $60,320
Architectural Designer Harley Ellis Devereaux Corporation Los Angeles, CA Sep 01, 2015 $60,320
Architectural Designer Li/Saltzman Architects P.C. New York, NY Mar 03, 2015 $60,320
Architectural Designer Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects New Haven, CT Sep 08, 2015 $54,080
Landscape Architectural Designer Plat Studio Inc. Berkeley, CA Sep 21, 2016 $54,000 -
Architectural Designer Fennick McCredie Architecture Ltd. Boston, MA Jun 09, 2016 $54,000
Junior Architectural Designer Elkus Manfredi Architects, Ltd. Boston, MA Aug 30, 2016 $54,000
Architectural Designer Spruce Street Partners LLC Winnetka, IL Dec 12, 2015 $54,000
Architectural Designer Ennead Architects LLP New York, NY Mar 14, 2016 $54,000
Architectural Designer Leo A Daly Company Washington, DC Jul 12, 2015 $53,976
Architectural Designer Lehman Smith McLeish, PLLC Washington, DC Sep 09, 2015 $53,976 -

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Top Skills for An Architectural Designer


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Top Architectural Designer Skills

  1. Architectural Construction Documents
  2. Autocad Architecture
  3. Architectural Drawings
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Completed all architectural construction documents.
  • Assist architects with the design and modeling of Tribal Projects in AutoCAD Architecture Assist in transition from AutoCAD to Revit
  • Prepared architectural drawings of residential and commercial structures.
  • Utilized Auto CAD, hand drafting and colored renderings.
  • Worked with a partner on the schematic design, code analysis, planning, and drawings for a cruise terminal competition.

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