How to Become an Architect: The Process Explained
One of the first things you’re asked as a child is what you want to be when you grow up. You might have said something like a veterinarian or a doctor. Maybe you wanted to design buildings and homes.
There is about 1 architect for every 2,900 people in the United States. If you’re interested in this path, you might wonder how to become an architect.
Do you need to go to school? Is there math involved? What’s the salary?
To save yourself from any financial regret or time wasted, you’ll want to know what you’re getting yourself into. That’s why knowing the process of how to become an architect is so important.
Let’s dive in.
Steps to Becoming an Architect
Just to get the obvious out of the way, if you are planning on studying architecture – you’re in for a challenge. It’s a very difficult major and it’s an even more difficult career. With that said, it is very rewarding.
Keep in mind that the steps listed here are not one size fits all. Everyone’s path is different and you may have additional steps or maybe skip a step or two. It’s more about getting a sense of what you’re in for.
Before getting into the process, you have to know what an architect is. As an architect, your job is to design and provide advice on built objects on both private and public landscapes. Everything from safety, functionality to aesthetic value, and cost efficiency will be under your umbrella of responsibility.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll have different requirements that range from making creative decisions to performing management duties. It is a very involved role where you’ll wear many hats.
So if you’re still interested, keep reading to find out now what steps you need to make to have an architect career.
1. Start in High School (If Possible)
While it may be too late while you’re reading this, if you’re currently in high school and interested in being an architect then you can start preparing right now! There are several high school courses you can take that will prepare you for the difficulties of university classes down the line. Pre-calculus, physics, and geometry are some examples of classes that will help with your mathematical skills.
Taking art courses will help your creative skillset. This is also a great time to get familiar with computers and their programs since many architects use specific design software in their careers.
2. You Have Two Degree Options
If you’re out of high school don’t worry. Life is always taking you places you don’t expect and it’s completely okay to discover your interest in architecture down the road. With that said, you’ll need to go to architecture school.
You have two options here, you can either get a five-year undergraduate degree in architecture (B.Arch) or a 2-3 years master’s program degree (M.Arch). You may notice while looking at different institutions that there are different bachelor’s degree programs in architecture but many of them are not nationally credited.
If you have a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree, you’ll likely need to go to a master’s program to qualify for state licensure. So the first thing you want to do is make sure that the program you want to attend is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. There’s a list on their website.
Keep in mind that an architecture education can easily get time-consuming and costly. If you’re interested in an affordable and timely way to jumpstart your architect career then consider the five-year undergraduate program.
If you’re wondering about the cost of attending architect school, know it varies widely. See if there’s a certified program in your state so you don’t have to pay out-of-state school tuition. The range for a five-year undergraduate architecture degree can start at $50,000 and go all the way to $175,000.
Also, depending on the state you live in, you can become a licensed architect without a degree if you spend enough time as an apprentice. With that said, getting a degree will speed up that process and allow you to qualify for licensure at a faster rate.
3. Do an Internship
So you got your degree, now what? To be eligible for state licensing, you have to complete a training period under a licensed architect. This lasts around three years.
You can do this as an intern. Different architectural and engineering services firms are always looking for recent graduates to take under their wing.
4. Become Certified and Licensed
To be an architect and offer professional services, you’ll need a state license. After you completed your internship, you have to pass the Architect Registration Examination which is administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. This has nine divisions that either has multiple choice questions or graphical questions.
Once you become certified and licensed, congratulations! You can call yourself an architect. Now it’s about finding the right firm to work for or work on your own terms.
So, how long does it take to become an architect? It can be a lengthy process. Including school, it can take anywhere from 8-15 years.
Now You Know How to Become an Architect
Most things worth doing tend to be challenging, that’s what makes success so rewarding. If you’re wondering how to become an architect, know that it is no easy feat. You’ll likely need to go to a certified architect program which can last anywhere from 5-8 years total, you’ll need to get an internship, and then you have to pass a rigorous test.
Architecture is a wonderful career choice and it will be worth every sleepless night and penny spent. Just make sure it’s what you would love to do.