Architects are responsible for the design of buildings as well as other structures. They attempt to create the most interesting and aesthetically pleasing structures possible, while balancing other needs such as budget, function, and safety. In the U.S., there are around a 130,000 architects, most of whom work in small firms employing five people or fewer. Some also work for government agencies or building firms. About one in five architects is self-employed as part of a private practice.
To become an architect, there are some basic educational requirements. If you have no previous training in architecture or are just coming out of high school, you will need to get into one of the available five-year bachelor of architecture programs. For those with an undergraduate degree in architecture, design, or a related area, a two-year master of architecture degree is more appropriate. Those who hold an undergraduate degree in an unrelated area may need to take a three- to four-year graduate program instead.
In addition to holding the appropriate degree, architects who wish to work in the United States must also be licensed. If you wish to be licensed, you need not only a professional degree, but a practical training term or an internship as well as a passing grade in the Architect Registration Exam (ARE). Most states also require architects to keep taking educational courses in order to keep their licenses. To offer a professional architect’s degree, the school must be accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB). Some states do not have this requirement, but enough do that attending a school of this type is a very good idea for your future.
Once you are licensed as an architect and have some experience, you will probably take on greater responsibilities until you manage whole projects. Eventually, you might end up in a managerial or supervisory position over other junior employees if you work in a large firm, you may become a partner in a smaller one, or you may set up a private architecture and design practice of your own.
Architecture employment is expected to grow quickly in the next few years, but prospective architects may find that competition is high. This will be particularly true for the top jobs in the industry. However, creative architects with good portfolios will be able to stand out. If you would like to improve your chances of a post-graduation internship, it is a good idea to get experience with a firm while you are still in school. Computer-aided design drafting (CADD) experience is also becoming extremely useful in the field of architecture as more and more projects and firms rely on computers.
You may wonder what your salary expectations might be as someone interested in becoming an architect. In 2006, the median annual earnings for people in these positions were around $65,000. Of course, internships and entry-level positions will pay significantly less, but this figure shows that architecture can truly be a well-paid position. If you are thinking about starting a private practice of your own, you should remember that you may have to operate at a loss for the first period of time as you gain a more reliable client base and a strong reputation.
On an average day, someone working in an architectural position will talk about the requirements, objectives, and budget of projects. They will also provide services before the design process begins. This may involve conducting environmental impact or feasibility study on a given site or building, picking a site for potential construction of a project, or selecting design requirements for the individual job in question.
After this has been done, an architect will be responsible for preparing drawings and presenting ideas to be reviewed by the client, as well as development of final construction plans which must include detailed drawings and information about how the project is to be constructed. Building codes, zoning laws, fire codes, and all other regulations must be followed at all times, and it is important to remember that changes will be required throughout the course of the planning process, necessitating revisions to the existing plan.
Architecture is an important field. Without it many projects would be stalled or unable to be completed at all. This fast-growing area is a smart choice for anyone who is interested in drawing jobs, buildings, and the way things work. The process of getting the appropriate education is a long one, but it is definitely worth it in the end for such a rewarding, useful career. If you love buildings and how they go together, you might want to check out architecture opportunities in your area. They could open up whole new doors.