When you see iconic structures like the Empire State Building in New York, the Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you not only marvel at the beauty but also think of the brains behind them.
Architects are the professionals who design houses, office complexes and other buildings. Want to become one? Read on!
1. What Do Architects Do?
Their duties include:
- Holding meetings with clients to discuss the structural requirements for their upcoming projects
- Using computer software to design the structure and presenting the designs to clients for review and approval
- Designing alterations to existing buildings
- Producing blueprints and other technical documents detailing the positioning of air-conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems
- Estimating the amount of construction materials it will take to build the structure
- Helping clients to select reliable and competent building contractors
- Inspecting project sites to ensure everything is being done according to architectural plans
- Helping contractors to resolve structural challenges that may arise during construction
2. Work Environment
Architects work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They mostly work in an office environment, where they design the structures and hold meetings with clients.
Architects also travel occasionally, as they have to visit project sites and market their designs to prospective clients.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for architects is $80,490.
4. Entry Requirements
To qualify for employment as an architect, begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in architecture. You will be educated in digital arts, construction technologies, aesthetic expression, and design.
Here are some of the universities offering the degree:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts
- University at Buffalo, New York
- Cornell University, New York
Unlike most jobs where you are ready for employment after completing your undergraduate studies, this one requires more. Your next step is to earn a master’s degree in architecture or another closely related professional degree and thereafter secure an internship.
Finally, obtain an occupational license from your state’s Board of Architects. For more information on licensing requirements by state, visit the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.
5. Important Qualities
The skills and abilities you need to be a sought-after architect include:
- Exceptional artistic and imaginative skills
- Strong skills in computer design
- Strong drawing skills
- Strong visual awareness
- A keen attention to details
- The ability to use 3D technologies
- An awareness of environmental sustainability practices (The ability to design green buildings)
- Good problem-solving skills
- Good analytical skills
- Good technical skills
- Good communication skills
- Good estimation and math skills
- Good presentation skills
- A commercial awareness
6. Career Advancement
As a qualified and licensed architect, you will be ready to take on your first paid project. Being inventive and imaginative with your designs is key to your career progression. Although clients give then general specifications for the structure, you should strive to come up with designs that supersede their expectations.
Also, don’t fail to join the American Institute of Architects. Besides promoting the interests of architects, it provides useful professional development resources, such as continuing education courses, to its members.
Ph.Ds in architecture are available to architects who wish to take their careers to the highest level.
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of architects include:
- Government agencies – Although many agencies generally contract their work to independent architects, others like the Department of Defense hire in-house architects to design high-security government buildings.
- Architectural and engineering firms
- Building construction companies
Experienced architects progress to become architectural managers and others establish their own firms. Those who earn a doctoral degree move into academia, where they become professors of architecture.
Is the job market attractive to beginning architects? It has to be! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a faster-than-average job growth (17 percent) for architects between 2012 and 2022.
So if you have a passion for the built environment, and you are imaginative, you have what it takes to join the list of architects who have designed landmark structures!