Pursuing an Architectural Design Career

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An architectural design career is a rewarding path that can bring about a great deal of personal satisfaction as well as an attractive salary.

Enjoying an Architectural Design Career

An architectural design career mostly takes place in an office setting — generally a professional business office setting or one that an architectural design professional has set up on his or her own if the professional is self-employed.

The main responsibility of the architectural designer is to create the proper look and feel for a building, room, or house. Thus, an architectural design career may involve presenting to clients, working with construction crews on all elements of building, and managing other professionals. Most architectural design professionals work 40 hours a week, or maybe more depending on deadlines that need to be met for designs. The job requires having a great deal of creativity but also requires having the proper education as well as the ability to design what is required by clients.

Educational Requirements for Launching an Architectural Design Career

To start an architectural design career, one must first obtain a degree in the field. It is best to obtain a professional degree in architecture from a college that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. If a designer has attended a school that is accredited, potential employers can be certain the designer has met certain standards of professionalism and knowledge.

Some states, though, set their own standards when it comes to being employed in the field of architectural design. Therefore, graduating from a school that is not accredited may be okay for licensing in some states but still may present a problem when it comes to finding employment.

A professional degree in architectural design can be gained by completing a four-year undergraduate program followed by an additional two-year master's degree program. Another option is to pursue a four-year master's degree in architecture for those who already have bachelor's degrees in other fields. Each degree requires an extensive commitment, however, and the necessary credits are very specialized. Therefore, credits toward a degree in architectural design often cannot be used later in order to work toward a different type of degree.

All 50 states require those interested in an architectural design career to complete a training period, which usually lasts at least three years. After completion of the training period, the designer can then take the licensing test required to gain certification within the field. Most architectural design professionals complete their training by working as interns at architecture firms, though some occasionally work with engineering firms or for general contractors. In addition, working through internships can begin to take place while a person is still in school.

During the intern period a person is not yet a registered professional and is not allowed to provide architectural design services, even if he or she is finished with the necessary schooling. To be licensed and to be legally able to offer design services, an architectural design professional must have a professional degree in architecture, have spent time in an internship or a training program, and have received a passing score on all parts of the Architect Registration Examination.
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