No matter how many buildings get built, somehow humanity keeps finding a need for more of them. That's where architects come in -- with a strong background in mathematics, engineering, and drafting, architects design buildings for companies, the government, and private citizens alike.
Although the primary industry that those with architecture degrees enter into is that of architecture itself, there are often jobs in related fields that architecture students find play more to their skillsets. But even in the field itself, there are tons of different kinds of architecture, and it can often be difficult for workers to decide exactly which way to apply their expertise within the job market.
Well, that's where we come in. We literally created a map, just for Architecture Majors such as yourself, to navigate your way through the choppy waters of recent graduation.
Feel free to focus on the map alone -- it's pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves. But for those of you who prefer step by step navigation on your path, keep reading. We'll give you the rundown on:
First thing's first: what skills you'll need to get started.
Skills in the field of Architecture are highly technical, including full knowledge of all drafting and design programs as well as a decent understanding of local building codes. Research skills are helpful, given the necessity of looking up these codes when an architect isn't totally sure they remember all of them, or when certain knowledge of the materials involved with the structure is required.
But creativity plays an important factor as well. Architects are faced with dozens of new problems every day when trying to design a building, and the ability to solve these problems safely and effectively often requires architects to come up with new and creative ways to make some wild design actually work.
Let's take a closer look at what this means for Architecture in particular:
Architects design the overall look of houses, buildings, and other structures. Therefore, the final product should be attractive and functional.
Architects often manage contracts. Therefore, they must keep records related to the details of a project, including total cost, materials used, and progress.
Architects need to use CADD technology to create plans as part of building information modeling (BIM).
Internships are an excellent way to start accumulating experience in any discipline, gaining valuable resume cache while also helping you start your network of industry contacts.
For Architecture Majors, interns typically find positions with larger engineering or architecture firms, both in the public and private sector. Internships are required for Architecture Majors and last around 2-3 years -- only after completing these are you able to take the ARE (Architecture Registration Examination), which qualifies you to practice architecture.
Much of your work as an intern will be assisting more experienced architects, often researching obscure building codes, double checking documents, and helping create some of the various mock-ups and models used during the design process.
Before you settle on an internship or placement, though, you'll want to make sure it's the right fit for you. Ask yourself these questions:
The obvious path for an Architecture Major to take is to go into architecture, which is still great work if you can get it. But a number of other options also exist for someone with an architecture skillset.
Design jobs on a smaller scale, such as furniture or industrial design, are common choices, and affecting cities on a larger scale by going into urban planning is also an option. Another option is to work with local government to write and update existing building codes, or to enter one of any number of specialized branches of architecture (such as light architecture or sustainable design).
With our map, you can click the Job Titles and learn more specific information for each position (what their responsibilities are, how much they get paid, etc.) But here, we wanted to call out some of the most common jobs for recent Architecture Major grads.
Here are a few of the most interesting jobs for recent grads such as yourself:
Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures. To do this, they typically meet with clients, give cost estimates, prepare drawings, and research local building codes.
Urban Planners use their architecture skills to help design cities and urban spaces in a way that's sustainable and green. Given the encroaching threat of global warming along with continuing population growth, Urban Planners are needed more and more to help design new city spaces or responsibly expand existing ones.
Industrial Designers work similarly to architects, except that rather focus on large-scale buildings and structures, industrial designers create (relatively) smaller items that can be mass-produced.
Look For Internships
When you're struggling to find experience in architecture, internships are an excellent place to get started. Even if you've already had an internship, it can still be to your benefit to assist a larger (or smaller) firm in your spare time.
Internships in architecture are often paid, which makes it an easier pill to swallow to suggest going after one, but even those that aren't paid carry with them a degree of dedication and even prestige. If a firm doesn't have any positions available, it might even be worth it to volunteer your time for free -- as long as it's a final resort.
Make a Killer Portfolio (And Keep Track of Your Experience!)
One of the best things you can do to help you find a job in architecture is to keep track of everything you've ever done and put that work into some kind of readable form. Most engineers have some sort of professional portfolio, but not everyone remembers that the person reading it might not be as instinctively aware of the importance of certain pieces of it as you are.
Make sure everything in the portfolio is legible and, above all, pretty. When a potential employer looks at it, you want their first impression to be great.
And if you can, keep a solid record of all the projects you've ever worked on and all the hard skills you've ever learned. In a field like architecture, it's useful when someone asks what you're capable of to be able to give them a pretty thorough answer.
Obtaining a graduate degree in your course of study can serve as an excellent way to separate you from the herd - but you must first decide whether it's worth your time.
A Master's in Architecture is more-or-less required for architects, something that is fairly unique to this major. The reason for this is that the Master's is a professional degree, meaning that the designation conferred by the degree is required in order to practice architecture. For this reason, going after a M.Arch. is entirely practical, since the other methods of becoming qualified involve some kind of alternative schooling (such as 4+2 programs, or 5 year architecture programs).
PhDs, on the other hand, tend to be for those interested in the theory and history of Architecture rather than its practice. PhDs spend most of their time researching or writing, working to expand the field of architectural knowledge as much as they can.
Here are common advanced degrees that people with an Architecture degree normally consider:
M.Arch. (Master's in Architecture)
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture)
If you're still not sure what to do with your degree here are some external sites, to help you with your decision:
A professioanl organization dedicated to promoting the field of architecture, the AIA offers continuing educations, industry publications, networking opportunities, and other membership benefits.
The NAAB is an accrediting organization that provides accreditation to academic programs related to architectural studies.
Enter "[blank]" into the search bar and you can get a sense of what kind of government jobs are available to Visual and Performing Arts Majors. Find a job title you like and come back here to learn more about it.
The BLS offers detailed data on pay, location, and availability of different kinds of jobs across the country.
In fact, we draw a lot of our research on the best places for jobs from the information provided on the site.
And if this all seems like a lot - don't worry - the hard part (getting your degree!) is already over.