How Do You Become an Architect?

ArchitectThe academic path to become an architect isn’t easy, but it is well worth it, because this career offers excellent pay and benefits. It may be an intellectually demanding job, but architects will eventually spend more time on creative design than technical tasks.

Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program

The majority of state architecture boards requires that architects complete a five year bachelor of architecture program that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). There are approximately 60 of these programs available. These programs include standard courses, such as structural behavior, which introduces structural elements, and architectural computing basics, which provides the skills and concepts that are fundamental to architectural computing. Building construction classes will present the knowledge needed to understand construction materials. One standard advanced course is environmental control systems, which reviews the architectural methods of controlling heat, water, waste and lighting. Most programs conclude with a class about the architecture profession that examines legal, contractual and regulatory issues and solutions.

Complete an Internship

Any student who wishes to become an architect should participate in an internship program. All states require on-the-job training, but some states require the architect to complete an internship program before obtaining a license. Architect internships usually last two to three years and allow architectural students to gain hands-on experience under the supervision of licensed architects. Almost all states use the Intern Development Program that is run by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). This internship program requires the candidate to work in a NCARB-approved business and complete 5,600 hours of work experience. These internships are divided into four main areas: pre-design, design and project and practice management.

Obtain Licensure

All states require that architects obtain a licensure to practice. Although every state has their own requirements, almost all states require that architects complete an accredited bachelor’s degree program and internship as well as pass a professional exam. Architects with a license will be legally empowered to practice architecture and even start their own firm. Licensure is recommended because public safety is important, but also because it gives the holder a competitive edge and increases their marketability.

Pass the ARE

It is highly recommended that architects pass the NCARB’s Architect Registration Examination (ARE), which assesses the professional competency architectural student. The ARE is the standard test used in every U.S. state and Canadian province. The ACE test is comprised of seven parts that cover the following core topics: construction documents, planning and programming, site design, schematic design and building, structural and construction systems. To expound, the construction document section includes questions about regulations, environmental issues and practice management. The structural systems section includes questions about the scientific principles of seismic, wind and lateral forces.

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Students who become an architect will need to maintain their license and certification. They should consider pursuing a master’s degree in architectural education. The National Architectural Accrediting Board accredits almost 100 master of architecture degree programs.

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