Education For Architecture

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Your elementary and secondary education forms the foundation for your education toward a professional career. They had much to do with your decision to consider a selected number of possible career options amongst the thousands available in today's economy. You are now ready to select a formal course of instruction that will prepare you for your occupation. It is an extremely important consideration, for your commitment to your education will be extraordinary-in terms of both financial investment and intellectual dedication.

You have begun your selection early in your schooling by choosing certain courses in junior and senior high school. Thereafter you will invest five to eight years of your life and anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 per year for your college education.

Because of these considerable investments, it makes good sense that, prior to making your career choice, you have a firm insight into the challenges and opportunities offered by a career in architecture, that you make a candid appraisal of your attitudes and abilities, and that you gain a broad understanding of the educational and licensing requirements you must satisfy to enter the profession.

This chapter discusses these educational and licensing requirements and the tuition and other costs associated with them.

Before we proceed, however, we should briefly review careers in architecture and the attitudes required of those who choose to enter the profession and vocation of architecture.


As an architect, your work will be combined with that of many other disciplines in the construction industry-urban planning, engineering, education, contracting and financing, to name a few. Your contribution to the process of creating buildings will be one of leadership, and your decisions will put these other disciplines into action.

In pursuit of your career, you may find that one or more of these other disciplines is as attractive to you as architecture. If so, you will further find that your basic education and training in architecture have prepared you to move with competence into these other disciplines with a relatively small amount of additional training.

The work of the architect is cyclical, partly because of the nature of construction, but it is determined more by the nature of the client or buying public. A client may speculate for some time on whether to build, but once having decided, he or she is anxious to see the project completed. Therefore, for most projects, the architect is obliged to be patient while the client is making a decision and then to bring all available resources to bear on completing the project as soon as possible following the client's favorable decision. Deadlines, overtime, and evening work are commonplace for the architect.


The architect is a professional and, as such, holds a primary concern for people-for their health, their safety, and their general welfare. The architect reveals this concern by exercising judgment in solving the client's building problems. These decisions are as often based on moral and technical issues as on the monetary issues involved. This philosophy of service to others before self demands a dedication to certain ideals easily overlooked in the pressures of today's materialistic society. The opportunity for intrinsic rewards is immense: the satisfaction of exercising independent judgment, the joy of creation, the appreciation of those served the recognition by others of your professional achievements.

Persons trained in architecture need not confine their talents to design. A career in architecture offers opportunities in sales, technical writing, contract law, administration, business and personnel management, cost accounting, computer science, and many other disciplines in addition to design. Within the practice of architecture, there are as many career opportunities as can be found in almost any other discipline. It merely remains for you to determine which turn you wish your career to take. This determination rests primarily upon your own attitudes, motivations, and aptitudes.


Now that you are aware of the challenges, opportunities, and rewards of architecture, perhaps you should review the list of character traits needed to become an architect (see Chapter 3). How do your, personal characteristics measure up to the requirements of the profession?

Personal Character. Can you meet the demands placed on those who act as professional advisers?

Human Understanding. Can you work with all kinds of people?

Stamina and Discipline. Do you have the self-discipline for years of formal education and a lifetime in self-education?

Rewards. If necessary, will you accept intrinsic rewards in lieu of material rewards?

Imagination. Do you generate creative ideas?

Common Sense. Do you have sound judgment?

Enthusiasm. Do you have keen and ardent interests?

Diplomacy. Can you meld your ideas and interests with those of others?

Visualization. Can you visualize space, color, texture?

Propriety. Do you have a sense for what is appropriate to the time and place?

Synthesis. Can you cope with a variety of details?

Perseverance. Can you stick with a project in spite of delays and other pressures?

Technology. Do you have a faculty for mathematics, engineering, and other scientific or technical matters?

Dimensions. Can you judge distances, proportions, and visual relationships?

Communications. Can you draw, write, and speak well enough to effectively communicate your ideas to others?

Management. Do you have a sense of business and personnel administration?

As improbable as it may seem, the truly successful professional architect exhibits all these characteristics. To be sure, some were developed following formal education, but the aptitudes were there all the time waiting to be revealed by the demands of a professional career. The earlier they are revealed, the earlier you will know the satisfaction of matching your attitudes, motivations, and aptitudes to the challenges and opportunities of a career in architecture.
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