If you have a bit of an artsy/creative side and spend a lot of time marveling at the buildings around you, then becoming an architect might be a great career path for you. While students in Construction Management colleges soon get to develop building infrastructure, architects get to design those buildings you see, and create beautiful, functional, and safe buildings for both residential and commercial use.
So if you have an inkling that you might want to become an architect, the next steps involve doing your homework to figure out how to become a professional. Unfortunately, you cannot simply declare yourself an architect because you know how to draw and have a passion for design. You’ll need very specific training in a variety of areas, which means you’ll need to go to school and earn a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture or Bachelor of Architecture degree.
What Do Architects Do?
First, you need to understand that architects do so much more than just sketch a building and let the construction team handle the build. Architects design and plan buildings and structures that are functional, safe, and pleasing to the eye. As the architect, you will be involved in every step along the way, from planning to completion.
Architects are often mistakenly thought of as artists, when there is actually a lot of science that goes into the work. That’s because architects have to think about so much more than just the way a building and other structures look. Architects have to give just as much attention to a building’s function and safety, while keeping in mind the needs of the people who will use them.
Architects also need soft skills like creativity and visualization. While some will certainly be more naturally adept in this area, having the educational foundation gives you knowledge to build off, making the sketching process easier. You’ll need to be a good listener, problem-solver, and critical thinker as well.
Why You Need A Degree in Architecture
The simplest reason you need a Bachelor of Architecture is that you actually need a degree and license in order to declare yourself a professional. Choosing the right school and specific program that is right for you and your academic needs is crucial to your success. This could mean going the traditional route and attending a school on campus, or it might mean finding an online program. The key is finding what will work for you and help to work you closer to your goals.
A good Bachelor of Architecture degree program or online architecture degree program will include a variety of programs that will fine-tune all of the skills you’ll need in this profession. Course topics will most likely include a combination of architectural history and theory, building and construction, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD). Most schools now will have courses on sustainable building and design.
You will also learn how to draw and create 3D models. Architects should also take some art classes in addition to trigonometry, geometry, and physics courses to have the most well-rounded skill set.
A Bachelor of Architecture program typically takes five years to complete. An internship or apprenticeship will often be a requirement of the program, which allows you to learn in the field, working on real projects with a real architectural firm.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture Is The First Step Toward Licensure
As we mentioned, just like a doctor, architects must be licensed to work in the U.S. Schools that are accepted by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB) are able to participate in the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL). This allows students who earn their B.A. in Architecture to continue their education immediately by enrolling in the IPAL program. This helps reduce the time it takes to launch your career as a licensed architect.
This licensing program typically takes an additional three to four years to complete and pass the Architect Registration Exam (ARE). To maintain your license, you will also be required to continue your learning through classes, conferences, and workshops. You can also become licensed in more than one state by earning certificates through the NCARB.
Employment Opportunities & Salary Potential
As you can see, becoming an architect is a lot of work, but it can be a greatly rewarding profession from a creative perspective, as well as giving you the potential for a very high salary. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual salary for an architect was $76,100. The BLS also expects a seven percent growth in job opportunities between 2014 and 2024, which is about average compared to other professions. For those who want to raise the bar even higher, a Bachelor’s degree is just the first step — continuing your education to earn your Master of Architecture degree can position you for an even better earning potential.