How to Become an Architect


Architects use their skills in design, engineering, managing and coordinating to create aesthetically pleasing and safe buildings that serve a purpose. They’re artists, but instead of a canvas, they have cities, parks, college campuses and more to display their work. And their masterpieces are the shops, libraries, office buildings and grocery stores we frequent all the time. Architects are involved at each step of a project, from the initial planning sessions to the ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of architects is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The job market for architects is relatively competitive as the number of applicants tends to outnumber available positions. The median annual wage for architects was reported as $76,100 in May 2015.

1. Consider if becoming an architect is right for you.

Architecture is a dynamic field with constantly changing trends and technologies. Every project you do is different, and you will always find new challenges. You may have the opportunity to create iconic landmarks that people will recognize for years to come. However, the training period for becoming architects can be quite lengthy. The minimum training is 8 years, which includes a 5-year bachelor degree and a 3-year internship. In addition, compared to other positions with similar training requirements, the salaries of architects can be much lower. According to, the median income for entry-level architects is just over $42,000, while the median income of a licensed architect with 12 years of experience is $113,000.

To find out if a career as an architect might be right for you, download PathSource for free on the App Store and take our personalized career quiz. For Android users, a light version is available to download on Google Play.

2. Earn a degree.

Most states require applicants to complete at least a 5-year Bachelor of Architecture program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Courses may include interior space and proportions, structural systems, environmental systems, and building technology. You may choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts degree in architecture, though not all of these programs meet the qualifications for state licensure.

3. Complete an internship program.

All states require architects to complete training or internship programs as part of their eligibility for licensure. The internships enable applicants to work under the supervision of licensed architects and gain hands-on experience. Most internship  programs last three years.

3. Earn a license.

All architects must hold state licenses to practice. In addition to earning degrees and completing internships, applicants must pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). The exam covers topics in site planning, building systems, and construction documents.

4. Advance your education and obtain additional certifications (optional).

Many architects pursue Master of Architecture degree programs accredited by NAAB. These programs may last one to five years, depending on your level of architectural education. Some schools offer degree programs that are not accredited by the NAAB but may be essential for research or teaching positions.

Architects may choose to earn the additional NCARB certification to demonstrate their capacity for work. After submitting transcripts as well as proof of ARE completion and working experience, licensed architects may need to pass additional interviews or tests to successfully obtain the NCARB certification.

Ready to see if a career as an architect is right for you? Check out these videos from PathSource to hear what real architects have to say!

ARCHITECT: Seeing Your Dreams Become Reality

ARCHITECT: Work Experience Is The Key To Success

ARCHITECT: Architects Are Communications Managers

If you have an iPhone, download PathSource for free on the App Store for unlimited access to videos about architects and hundreds of other professions. For Android users, a light version is available to download on Google Play with videos coming soon!

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