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Become A Principal Architect

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Working As A Principal 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

  • $134,566

    Average Salary

What Does A Principal Architect Do

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

Duties

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 A Principal 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.

Education

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.

Training

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.

Advancement

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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Principal Architect Jobs

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Principal Architect Career Paths

Principal Architect
Director Of Enterprise Architecture Principal Consultant Architect
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Director Consultant Information Technology Manager
Corporate Information Technology Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Chief Architect
Director Of Enterprise Architecture
14 Yearsyrs
Vice President Chief Technology Officer Senior Sales Engineer
Director Of Sales Engineering
12 Yearsyrs
Vice President Of Engineering Consulting Engineer Senior Software Engineer
Director Of Software Development
12 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Information Technology Project Manager Enterprise Project Manager
Enterprise Program Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Vice President Of Engineering President/Chief Executive Officer Information Technology Director
Executive Director, Information Technology
9 Yearsyrs
Chief Technology Officer Technical Consultant Information Technology Manager
Infrastructure Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Technical Director Senior Project Manager Project Director
Manager, Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Director Of Enterprise Architecture Chief Technology Officer Senior Product Manager
Principal Product Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Chief Technology Officer Senior Project Manager Engineering Director
Senior Director Of Engineering
15 Yearsyrs
Vice President Principal Consultant Senior Information Technology Manager
Senior Manager Infrastructure
12 Yearsyrs
Technical Director Solutions Architect Solutions Manager
Senior Solutions Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Chief Architect Technical Director Senior Project Manager
Senior Technical Program Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Project Leader Manager Applications Development
Vice President Of Application Development
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Director Vice President Vice President Of Information Technology
Vice President Technology Services
13 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Principal Architect?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Chief Architect 3.5 years
Architect Manager 3.5 years
Architect 2.9 years
Senior Architect 2.8 years
Lead Architect 2.4 years
Top Employers Before
Architect 13.0%
Consultant 5.9%
Top Employers After
Architect 8.8%
Consultant 5.9%
Principal 3.7%

Do you work as a Principal Architect?

Principal Architect Demographics

Gender

Male

85.4%

Female

11.0%

Unknown

3.7%
Ethnicity

White

52.9%

Asian

19.0%

Hispanic or Latino

12.9%

Black or African American

9.2%

Unknown

6.0%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

23.7%

Japanese

10.5%

French

7.9%

Sami

5.3%

Chinese

5.3%

Hebrew

5.3%

Mandarin

5.3%

Carrier

5.3%

Swedish

2.6%

Portuguese

2.6%

Gujarati

2.6%

German

2.6%

Marathi

2.6%

Hindi

2.6%

Latvian

2.6%

Russian

2.6%

Urdu

2.6%

Thai

2.6%

Cantonese

2.6%

Arabic

2.6%
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Principal Architect Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

7.9%

University of Arizona

7.9%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

7.0%

University of Colorado at Boulder

6.1%

University of Illinois at Chicago

6.1%

Stanford University

6.1%

University of Utah

6.1%

University of Texas at Austin

6.1%

Syracuse University

4.4%

Ohio State University

4.4%

Villanova University

4.4%

Arizona State University

4.4%

Kansas State University

4.4%

Boston University

3.5%

Texas Tech University

3.5%

Harvard University

3.5%

University of Idaho

3.5%

Rochester Institute of Technology

3.5%

University of California - Berkeley

3.5%

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

3.5%
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Majors

Computer Science

24.0%

Architecture

23.8%

Business

9.6%

Electrical Engineering

6.6%

Computer Information Systems

4.3%

Information Technology

4.1%

Computer Engineering

3.9%

Engineering

2.5%

Information Systems

2.3%

Mathematics

2.3%

Physics

2.3%

Management

2.1%

Finance

1.9%

Mechanical Engineering

1.9%

Computer Applications

1.9%

Management Information Systems

1.4%

Economics

1.4%

Project Management

1.4%

Urban Planning

1.2%

Psychology

1.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

42.3%

Masters

34.2%

Other

13.1%

Doctorate

5.1%

Associate

3.3%

Certificate

1.6%

Diploma

0.4%
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Internship
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Real Principal Architect Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Principal Architect Salesforce.Com, Inc. San Francisco, CA Aug 15, 2015 $240,000
Global Principal Varchitect EMC Corporation Santa Clara, CA Aug 28, 2015 $212,514
Principal Architect Shutterfly, Inc. Santa Clara, CA May 21, 2015 $200,000
Principal Architect Minus Inc. New York, NY Sep 06, 2015 $200,000
Principal Architect Universal E-Business Solutions, LLC Newington, CT Oct 18, 2016 $200,000
Principal Architect Universal E-Business Solutions, LLC New York, NY Nov 10, 2016 $200,000
Principal Architect Nvidia Corporation Santa Clara, CA Jul 29, 2016 $191,162 -
$240,000
Principal Cloud Architect Ruckus Wireless, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jan 22, 2016 $190,000
Principal Architect Asurion San Mateo, CA Feb 22, 2016 $188,822
Principal Architect Asurion San Mateo, CA Sep 03, 2015 $188,822
Principal Applied Architect Nordstrom, Inc. Seattle, WA Mar 12, 2016 $184,400
Principal Architect, Engineering Wal-Mart Associates, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Aug 03, 2015 $184,140
Principal Architect Symphony Teleca Services, Inc. Mountain View, CA Oct 26, 2015 $183,872 -
$188,240
Lead Principal Architect Nordstrom, Inc. Seattle, WA Jun 16, 2015 $180,000
Principal Architect Allscripts Software, LLC AZ Aug 13, 2015 $149,350
Principal Applied Architect Nordstrom, Inc. Seattle, WA Nov 18, 2016 $148,300
SR. Principal Architect Ca, Inc. Framingham, MA May 12, 2016 $148,239
Principal Architect Mulesoft, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jan 10, 2016 $147,846 -
$200,000
Principal Services Architect Ca, Inc. Mounds View, MN Jul 03, 2016 $147,229
Principal Services Architect Ca, Inc. Atlanta, GA Feb 05, 2016 $147,229
Principal Services Architect Ca, Inc. New York, NY Aug 03, 2016 $147,229
Principal Architect Aurionpro Solutions, Inc. Woodbridge, NJ Sep 28, 2015 $129,334 -
$141,482
Principal Architect-Sharepoint Infrastructure & Configuration SPRI Partners LLC Chicago, IL Dec 09, 2016 $129,000
Principal Architect EMC Corporation Southborough, MA Dec 09, 2016 $128,800
Principal Architect Comcast Cable Communications, LLC Herndon, VA Mar 09, 2016 $127,379 -
$142,000
Technology Principal Architect Sap America, Inc. Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ Aug 02, 2016 $126,700 -
$215,320
Principal Architect Dyntek Services, Inc. Newport Beach, CA Aug 02, 2016 $126,000 -
$135,000
Senior Principal Architect (Microsoft) Dyntek Services, Inc. Las Vegas, NV Sep 26, 2016 $126,000 -
$135,000
Senior Principal Architect Dyntek Services, Inc. Las Vegas, NV Sep 26, 2016 $126,000 -
$135,000

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Top Skills for A Principal Architect

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  1. Architects
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Platform
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided direct mentoring and leadership for senior technical contributors and architects across the Rapid7 product development organization.
  • Managed offshore engineering team, overcoming challenges including technical, resource planning & motivation, communication, and infrastructure.
  • Design and lead development of configurable instant application platform allowing business to expand into new markets quickly.
  • Liaised with development team to confer and coordinate on system component interaction and Transact-SQL and DAO database interface.
  • Created cloud-based customer solutions by collaborating extensively with cloud computing providers.

How Would You Rate Working As a Principal Architect?

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Top Principal Architect Employers

Jobs From Top Principal Architect Employers

Principal Architect Videos

VCDX Program - John Arrasjid, Principal Architect, VMware, Inc.

How to Succeed in Architecture: Land a Job after Architecture School

Krishna Markande, Principal Architect, Infosys

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