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Architect Training and Qualifications
There are three main steps in becoming an architect: completing a
professional degree in architecture; gaining work experience through an
internship; and attaining licensure by passing the Architect Registration Exam.
Education and training. In most States,
architects must hold a professional degree in architecture from one of the 117
schools of architecture that have degree programs accredited by the National
Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). However, State architectural
registration boards set their own standards, so graduation from a non-accredited
program may meet the educational requirement for licensing in a few States.
Most architects earn their professional degree through a 5-year Bachelor of
Architecture degree program, which is intended for students with no previous
architectural training. Others earn a master's degree after completing a
bachelor's degree in another field or after completing a preprofessional
architecture program. A master's degree in architecture can take 1 to 5 years to
complete depending on the extent of previous training in architecture.
The choice of degree depends on preference and educational background.
Prospective architecture students should consider the options before committing
to a program. For example, although the 5-year bachelor of architecture offers
the most direct route to the professional degree, courses are specialized, and
if the student does not complete the program, transferring to a program in
another discipline may be difficult. A typical program includes courses in
architectural history and theory, building design with an emphasis on CADD,
structures, technology, construction methods, professional practice, math,
physical sciences, and liberal arts. Central to most architectural programs is
the design studio, where students apply the skills and concepts learned in the
classroom and create drawings and three-dimensional models of their designs.
Many schools of architecture also offer postprofessional degrees for those
who already have a bachelor's or master's degree in architecture or other areas.
Although graduate education beyond the professional degree is not required for
practicing architects, it may be useful for research, teaching, and certain
All State architectural registration boards require architecture graduates to
complete a training period—usually at least 3 years—before they may sit for the
licensing exam. Every State follows the training standards established by the
Intern Development Program, a program of the American Institute of Architects
and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). These
standards stipulate broad training under the supervision of a licensed
architect. Most new graduates complete their training period by working as
interns at architectural firms. Some States allow a portion of the training to
occur in the offices of related professionals, such as engineers or 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 assist in the design of one part of a
project, help prepare architectural documents or drawings, build models, or
prepare construction drawings on CADD. Interns also may research building codes
and materials or write specifications for building materials, installation
criteria, the quality of finishes, and other, related details.
Other qualifications. Architects must be
able to communicate their ideas visually to their clients. Artistic and drawing
ability is helpful, but not essential, to such communication. More important are
a visual orientation and the ability to understand spatial relationships. Other
important qualities for anyone interested in becoming an architect are
creativity and the ability to work independently and as part of a team. Computer
skills are also required for writing specifications, for 2-dimensional and 3-
dimensional drafting using CADD programs, and for financial management.
Certification and advancement. A growing
number of architects voluntarily seek certification by the National Council of
Architectural Registration Boards. Certification is awarded after independent
verification of the candidate's educational transcripts, employment record, and
professional references. Certification can make it easier to become licensed
across States. In fact, it is the primary requirement for reciprocity of
licensing among State Boards that are NCARB members. In 2009, approximately
one-third of all licensed architects had this certification.
After becoming licensed and gaining experience, architects take on
increasingly complex assignments, eventually managing entire projects. In large
firms, architects may advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Some
architects become partners in established firms, while others set up their own
practices. Some graduates with degrees in architecture also enter related
fields, such as graphic, interior, or industrial design; urban planning; real
estate development; civil engineering; and construction management.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
Find related resources below:
Architect Job Outlook
Architect Training and Qualifications
Architect Licensing Architecture Colleges