In the interest of providing a wide array of useful information, Edudemic is providing an ongoing series of what we’re calling ‘Career Spotlights’ where we look at interesting careers and the steps students can take to make it. We’ll be working to cover a variety of careers – if you want a particular career showcased, just let us know!
Architecture can be a very rewarding and lucrative career. Architects can use their skills to work in a variety of fields. An architect may design homes, commercial buildings, sky scrapers, work on historical restoration projects, or use their knowledge of the subject to teach others. Though there are many different fields of architecture for one to enter, one thing remains common: most architects must have a high aptitude for math and possess adequate drawing skills.
Aspiring architects should know that each state has its own licensing board. Though the exact requirements to become an architect vary by state, they all require a combination of education, experience, and successful completion of the state licensing exam. The required state licensing exams are administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB).
High School Preparation
Though the path to become an architect can vary from state to state, preparation for most future architects usually begins in high school. Future architects should prepare themselves by taking challenging courses with an emphasis on math and science. Additionally, if possible, classes in drawing or drafting are also highly encouraged.
Some schools offer an Advanced Placement Program (APP), where students can take advanced placement exams. Successfully passing these exams can put students on the fast track to success by letting them take advanced courses.
Young aspiring architects should also participate in summer programs that introduce them to the field of architecture and give them their first taste of what an architecture career will be like. Additionally, motivated students should try to find a summer job in the architecture or construction field. This will give them first-hand experience of building construction.
Joining a mentorship program, like ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) is also a wise idea. This program connects future architecture students with mentors who can enlighten them about a career in architecture.
Choosing a College Path
Though each state has their own educational requirements, there are generally three educational paths that aspiring architects can follow:
- Professional degree in architecture (takes 5 years)
- Bachelor of Science in Architecture (takes 4 years), followed by a Masters in Architecture degree (takes 2 years)
- BS or BA in any specialty, followed by a Masters in Architecture (takes 3 years)
It is important to note that architecture students who receive their Bachelor of Sciences degree in architecture can work for a period of time in the architecture field before completing their masters, as this can satisfy the experience requirement of their state. Additionally, students who receive a non-architecture bachelor’s degree should consider getting a degree in a related field, such as civil engineering.
Choosing a Architecture School
After selecting an educational path, there are numerous resources to help students select an architecture program. The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture maintains a database of over 100 architecture schools in North America. This can be a helpful resource in selecting a school.
All future architects in the U.S. must undergo an apprenticeship period. The length of time for the apprenticeship varies by state, so it is important for aspiring architects to check with their state board to find out their state’s requirements. Most architects choose to register with the NCARB’s Intern Development Program, which satisfies the experience requirement of most states. There are many architecture path ways, you could choose residential or commercial architecture, so choose wisely.
Architect Registration Exam
Aspiring architects in every state must pass the Architect Registration Exam. The exam consists of nine sections that are taken one at a time. Though the exam is quite intensive, students have up to five years to receive a passing grade.
Architecture is a fulfilling and financially rewarding career. Similar to most other lucrative fields, becoming an architect is a challenging and time consuming process. However, those who dedicate themselves to learning the intricacies of architecture can be well rewarded for their skills and creativity.