Building a Career as an Architect

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An architect is hired to design buildings as well as other structures. There is much more to architecture, however, than just creating a beautiful exterior for a structure. It is vital that the structure is sound, safe, and functional as well. Typically, all of these aspects are considered a top priority when an architect begins the planning and design stages of the structure.

The Duties of an Architect

It is not uncommon for someone with a career as an architect to remain involved during the entire design and building process. There are certain skills that all great architects must have when it comes to being an architect who can be considered reputable. Among these required skills are:

  • Communication
  • Management
  • Design
  • Supervision
  • Engineering
Effective communication is extremely important for architects, as they need to be able to clearly describe and sell their visions to prospective buyers.

An architecture job also requires one to be able to discuss the ins and outs of a design with a client. These discussions may focus on the main objective for the structure as well as on the financial aspects related to the project. It is typical for an architect to also offer additional services such as environmental impact studies, finding the ideal location for the given structure, analyzing the costs, and conducting land-use studies. After these additional services have been provided, the architect will then prepare the reports that are necessary for the project, as well as the drawings of the plans.

Education and Training for Architect Jobs

To launch a career in architecture, one must first attain a degree in the field. There are three different types of degrees that can be earned for an architecture career. The most common degree obtained by those interested in a career in architecture is the bachelor’s degree, which generally takes five years to complete.

Those interested in an architecture job may also pursue a master’s degree from a two-year program. This choice is better suited for individuals who already hold an undergraduate degree related to architecture and are interested in taking their careers to a new level. The third and final degree available in the field is a three- or four-year master’s degree. Typically, this degree is for individuals who already have a degree that is not related directly to architecture but are interested in making a career change.

The typical architecture program will involve classes in all of the following:
  • History of architecture
  • Theory of architecture
  • Building designs emphasizing CADD
  • Technology
  • Structures
  • Methods of construction
  • Physical science
  • Liberal arts
  • Math
  • Professional practice
Creating three-dimensional models of designs is also typical when learning architecture. Drawing and other concepts that are attained in the classroom are also put to use in a design studio.

Many architects also participate in an internship before obtaining a job in the field. During an architectural internship, the architect generally assists in the design of a portion of a project, gets the documentation ready for the client, gathers the drawings, and possibly builds the models for the project. In addition, the intern might be the person in charge of certain aspects of the necessary research, such as finding out about applicable building codes, installation criteria, the finishes, and materials.

Architects are also required to become licensed prior to being able to refer to themselves as architects. During the brief period between college graduation and obtaining licensure, however, an architectural graduate can work beneath an architect who is properly licensed.

To become a licensed architect, it is necessary to complete the required college courses, attain a degree in architecture, complete the required time as an intern, and pass all of the testing on the Architect Registration Examination. This exam includes graphical questions as well as multiple choice questions, though there is some variation in testing from state to state.
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