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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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Staff Architect
Top Careers After Staff Architect
Hispanic or Latino8.8%
Black or African American0.6%
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New Jersey Institute of Technology9.2%
University of Kansas7.9%
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University7.9%
Illinois Institute of Technology6.6%
University of Texas at Arlington5.3%
Louisiana Tech University5.3%
Kansas State University5.3%
Catholic University of America5.3%
Louisiana State University and A&M College3.9%
Savannah College of Art and Design3.9%
University of Illinois at Chicago3.9%
State University of New York Buffalo3.9%
Iowa State University3.9%
University of Phoenix3.9%
University of Miami3.9%
Lawrence Technological University3.9%
University of Arizona3.9%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Staff Architect (Software)||Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online||Glendale, CA||Nov 09, 2016||$185,455|
|Staff Architect||Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online||Glendale, CA||Apr 14, 2016||$180,054|
|Staff Architect (Software)||Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online||Glendale, CA||Sep 10, 2013||$164,960|
|Staff Firmware Architect/Wlan Protocol||Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Jul 14, 2016||$162,926 -
|Staff CPU Architect||Soft MacHines, Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Feb 09, 2016||$154,939 -
|Staff CPU Architect||Soft MacHines, Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Feb 09, 2016||$154,737 -
|Staff Microprocessor Architect||Soft MacHines, Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Feb 17, 2016||$150,000 -
|Staff Microprocessor Architect||Soft MacHines, Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Feb 24, 2015||$150,000 -
|Senior Staff Customer Engagement Architect||Cadence Design Systems, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Sep 18, 2014||$150,000 -
|Staff Firmware Architect/Cnss Software||Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Jul 19, 2016||$147,368 -
|Staff Firmware Architect/Cnss Software||Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Apr 25, 2016||$147,368 -
|Senior Staff Architect||Soft MacHines, Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Jul 14, 2013||$145,000 -
|Staff Architect||GEP Administrative Services, Inc.||Burbank, CA||Mar 10, 2015||$97,000|
|Staff Decision Analytics Architect||Inovant, LLC||Austin, TX||Mar 23, 2015||$96,304 -
|Staff Architect||JOEB Moore & Partners LLC||Greenwich, CT||Mar 01, 2014||$80,000|
|Tecxcloud Staff Architect||IBM Corporation||Parkton, NC||Apr 05, 2016||$70,470 -
|Staff Architect||Sorg and Associates, PC||Washington, DC||May 11, 2013||$66,248|
|Staff Architect (Unregistered)||Cox Graae + Spack Architects||Washington, DC||Jan 05, 2016||$65,000|
|Staff Architect||Sorg and Associates, PC||Washington, DC||Apr 27, 2012||$63,700|
|Staff Architect||Prime General LLC||Hollywood, FL||Nov 30, 2013||$54,304|
|Staff Architect||WDG Architecture, PLLC||Washington, DC||Aug 23, 2015||$54,158|
|Staff Architect||WDG Architecture PLLC||Washington, DC||Sep 01, 2015||$54,158|
|Staff Architect||WDG Architecture, PLLC||Washington, DC||Aug 03, 2016||$53,976|
|Staff Architect||PGN Architects, PLLC||Washington, DC||Sep 26, 2015||$53,643 -
|Staff Architect||WDG Architecture, PLLC||Washington, DC||Oct 24, 2016||$53,643|
|Staff Architect||WDG Architecture, PLLC||Washington, DC||May 28, 2016||$53,643|
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