Architecture


Quick Facts: Architects
2017 Median Pay $78,470 per year 
$37.72 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Internship/residency
Number of Jobs, 2016 128,800
Job Outlook, 2016-26 4% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 5,500

Join Nextstep Career Mentorship Programs in Architecture with our partners:


Architecture Career, Salary and Education Information

What ARCHITECTS Do

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures. Before constructing a building, an architect needs to draw a plan of the building. Sometimes architects will make a cardboard or plastic model of the building. The building is then built by a construction company which follows the directions of the plans for the building.

1_zvnJlL7AOzAnaQCM_Ta0rg.jpeg

Architecture

 

Duties of Architects

Architects typically do the following:

  • Meet with clients to determine objectives and requirements for structures
  • Give preliminary estimates on cost and construction time
  • Prepare structure specifications
  • Direct workers who prepare drawings and documents
  • Prepare scaled drawings, either with computer software or by hand
  • Prepare contract documents for building contractors
  • Manage construction contracts
  • Visit worksites to ensure that construction adheres to architectural plans
  • Seek new work by marketing and giving presentations

People need places to live, work, play, learn, shop, and eat. Architects are responsible for designing these places. They work on public or private projects and design both indoor and outdoor spaces. Architects can be commissioned to design anything from a single room to an entire complex of buildings.

Architects discuss the objectives, requirements, and budget of a project with clients. In some cases, architects provide various predesign services, such as feasibility and environmental impact studies, site selection, cost analyses, and design requirements.

Architects develop final construction plans after discussing and agreeing on the initial proposal with clients. The architects' plans show the building's appearance and details of its construction. These plans include drawings of the structural system; air-conditioning, heating, and ventilating systems; electrical systems; communications systems; and plumbing. Sometimes, landscape plans are included as well. In developing designs, architects must follow state and local building codes, zoning laws, fire regulations, and other ordinances, such as those requiring easy access to buildings for people who are disabled.

Architects use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) and building information modeling (BIM) for creating designs and construction drawings. However, hand-drawing skills are still required, especially during the conceptual stages of a project and when an architect is at a construction site.

As construction continues, architects may visit building sites to ensure that contractors follow the design, adhere to the schedule, use the specified materials, and meet work-quality standards. The job is not complete until all construction is finished, required tests are conducted, and construction costs are paid.

Architects may also help clients get construction bids, select contractors, and negotiate construction contracts.

Architects often collaborate with workers in related occupations, such as civil engineersurban and regional plannersdraftersinterior designers, and landscape architects.


Work Environment for ARCHITECTS

Architects hold about 128,800 jobs. The largest employers of architects are as follows:

Architectural, engineering, and related services: 68%

Self-employed workers: 20%

Government: 3%

Construction: 2%

Architects spend much of their time in offices, where they meet with clients, develop reports and drawings, and work with other architects and engineers. They also visit construction sites to ensure clients' objectives are met and to review the progress of projects. Some architects work from home offices.

Architect Work Schedules

Most architects work full time and many work additional hours, especially when facing deadlines. Self-employed architects may have more flexible work schedules.


How to Become an Architect

There are typically three main steps to becoming a licensed architect: completing a bachelor's degree in architecture, gaining relevant experience through a paid internship, and passing the Architect Registration Examination.

Education for Architects

In all states, earning a bachelor's degree in architecture is typically the first step to becoming an architect. Most architects earn their degree through a 5-year Bachelor of Architecture degree program. Many earn a master's degree in architecture, which can take 1 to 5 additional years. The time required depends on the extent of the student's previous education and training in architecture.

A typical bachelor's degree program includes courses in architectural history and theory, building design with an emphasis on computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), structures, construction methods, professional practices, math, physical sciences, and liberal arts.

Currently, 35 states require that architects hold a degree in architecture from one of the 122 schools of architecture accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). State licensing requirements can be found at the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).

Training for Architects

All state architectural registration boards require architecture graduates to complete a lengthy paid internship—generally lasting 3 years—before they may sit for the Architect Registration Examination. Most new graduates complete their training period by working at architectural firms through the Architectural Experience Program (AXP), a program run by NCARB that guides students through the internship process. Some states allow a portion of the training to occur in the offices of employers in related careers, such as engineers and general contractors. Architecture students who complete internships while still in school can count some of that time toward the 3-year training period.

Interns in architectural firms may help design part of a project. They may help prepare architectural documents and drawings, build models, and prepare construction drawings on CADD. Interns may also research building codes and write specifications for building materials, installation criteria, the quality of finishes, and other related details. Licensed architects take the documents that interns produce, make edits to them, finalize plans, and then sign and seal the documents.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Architects

All states and the District of Columbia require architects to be licensed. Licensing requirements typically include completing a degree program in architecture, gaining relevant experience through a paid internship, and passing the Architect Registration Examination.

Most states also require some form of continuing education to keep a license. Continuing education requirements vary by state but usually involve additional education through workshops, university classes, conferences, self-study courses, or other sources.

Advancement for Architects

After many years of work experience, some architects advance to become architectural and engineering managers. These managers typically coordinate the activities of employees and may work on larger construction projects.

Important Qualities for Architects

Analytical skills. Architects must understand the content of designs and the context in which they were created. For example, architects must understand the locations of mechanical systems and how those systems affect building operations.

Communication skills. Architects share their ideas, both in oral presentations and in writing, with clients, other architects, and workers who help prepare drawings. Many also give presentations to explain their ideas and designs.

Creativity. Architects design the overall look of houses, buildings, and other structures. Therefore, the final product should be attractive and functional.

Organizational skills. Architects often manage contracts. Therefore, they must keep records related to the details of a project, including total cost, materials used, and progress.

Technical skills. Architects need to use CADD technology to create plans as part of building information modeling (BIM).

Visualization skills. Architects must be able to envision how the parts of a structure relate to each other. They also must be able to visualize how the overall building will look once completed.


salaries for an ARCHITECT

The median annual wage for architects is $76,930. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $46,600, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $129,810.

The median annual wages for architects in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Government: $88,190

Construction: $78,230

Architectural, engineering, and related services: $75,910

Most architects work full time and many work additional hours, especially when facing deadlines. Self-employed architects may have more flexible work hours.


Job Outlook for Architects

Employment of architects is projected to grow 4 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations. Architects are expected to be needed to make plans and designs for the construction and renovation of homes, offices, retail stores, and other structures. Many school districts and universities are expected to build new facilities or renovate existing ones. In addition, demand is expected for more healthcare facilities as the baby-boomer population ages and as more people use healthcare services.

Demand for architects with a knowledge of “green design,” also called sustainable design, is expected to continue. Architects should be needed to design buildings and structures that efficiently use resources, such as energy and water conservation; reduce waste and pollution; and apply environmentally friendly design, specifications, and materials.

Job Prospects for architects

With a high number of students graduating with degrees in architecture, strong competition for internships and jobs is expected.

Employment of architects is strongly tied to the activity of the construction industry. Therefore, these workers may experience periods of unemployment when there is a slowdown in requests for new projects or when the overall level of construction falls.

Employment projections data for Architects, 2016-2026:

Employment, 2016: 128,800

Projected Employment, 2026: 133,900

Change, 2016-2026: +4%, +5,100


Careers Related to architects

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in architectural and engineering companies.

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers conceive, design, build, supervise, operate, construct, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

Construction Managers

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish.

Financial Managers

Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

Drafters

Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Industrial Designers

Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability of products when developing new product concepts.

Interior Designers

Interior designers make interior spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting decorative items, such as colors, lighting, and materials. They read blueprints and must be aware of building codes and inspection regulations, as well as universal accessibility standards.

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design parks and the outdoor spaces of campuses, recreational facilities, businesses, private homes, and other open areas.

Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth's surface. Surveying technicians visit sites to take measurements of the land. Mapping technicians use geographic data to create maps. They both assist surveyors and cartographers and photogrammetrists.

Surveyors

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries. They provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth's surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects.

Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Civil EngineersBachelor's degree$84,770
Construction ManagersBachelor's degree$91,370
DraftersAssociate's degree$54,170
Industrial DesignersBachelor's degree$65,970
Landscape ArchitectsBachelor's degree$65,760
Urban and Regional PlannersMaster's degree$71,490
Architectural and Engineering ManagersBachelor's degree$137,720
Surveying and Mapping TechniciansHigh school diploma or equivalent$43,340
SurveyorsBachelor's degree$61,140
Construction and Building InspectorsHigh school diploma or equivalent$59,090

Citation:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Architects, 
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/architects.htm