Becoming an Architect: How to Make Your Design Dreams a Reality

Interested in more than just looking at great architecture? You’re in luck! Read on to learn what you need to know about becoming an architect.

According to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, there are  115,316 licensed architects in the U.S. The numbers are a clear indicator that becoming an architect takes more than just a university degree. You need to go through the ‘Architectural Experience Program (AXP)’ and pass ‘The Architect Registration Examination (ARE)’ to become licensed to work.

Before you start looking for schools, make sure to do thorough research on the profession requirements. If possible, connect with architects from your area and talk to them about their work and career path.

Read on to learn how to become an architect and jumpstart the career of your dreams!

Do Your Research

There are several ways to become an architect, but it all starts with doing research on what the profession entails. If you’re in high school, start gathering information now and read articles, books, and interviews with famous architects.

Then, research potential schools and the programs they offer, how long it takes to get a degree as well as the financial aspect of it all. Finally, learn about the type of work you’ll be doing, and the licenses you’ll need before you start working.

Assess Your Skills and Abilities

The career path of an architect may seem dreamy and lucrative, but it’s a long process that requires hard work and dedication. After you’ve done your initial research, you’ll have a better insight into what it means to become an architect.

Aside from formal education, you should also assess your skills and abilities for this profession. For example, do you have a sense of aesthetics or a talent for drawing? Are you good at math and physics? How are your problem-solving skills?

While you don’t have to be talented for these things, having a natural inclination towards the subjects can help you tremendously. Finally, the road to becoming an architect requires a lot of patience, so make sure you’re ready for the challenges ahead.

Choose the Right School

Choose the Right School

Getting the right architect education will prepare you for a career in architecture and set you up for success. Though many universities and colleges offer undergraduate studies in the field, choose programs that are accredited by the NCAB.

A typical architecture program takes around 5 years to complete. Note that some schools offer a BA or BS in Architecture, but this is not the same as a professional Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) program that’ll prepare you for a state license. You can also enroll in a program that combines a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree so you can complete your education all at once.

Before you decide on the school, make sure to do thorough research on its programs, professors, tuition/fees, and the quality of students that graduate from there. This decision will determine the course of your career, so start early and choose wisely.

Start an Internship

When you’re fresh out of high school or university and have no work experience, start looking for an internship in established architecture firms. This will help you develop a first-hand feel for the job, and you’ll learn from more experienced architects.

The best way to do this is through the Architectural Experience Program (AXP) developed by the NCARB. The portfolio you build will help you learn the ins and outs of the profession and the architecture principles. In some cases, the internship may turn into a full-time job.

Gaining experience is crucial if you want to work as a licensed architect and typically takes around 3 years. During this time, you’ll be under the supervision of a senior architect, and you can always pursue a Master’s Degree or study for the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

Pass the ARE

The ARE (Architect Registration Examination) is the final and most important step of your professional architecture training. This exam was created by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and once you pass it, you can apply for a license and start working as an architect.

The ARE will test your knowledge and skills on several levels. Aside from testing your theoretical and practical knowledge, the test will also assess your ability to lead projects and teams within a company. This is because you’ll most likely work in one and you’ll need to learn how to work with others on a common goal.

Get Licensed

The licensing requirements are different for each state and you may need to take additional exams. After you pass ARE, contact your local and state registration board to see what’s next.

Getting licensed is necessary if you want to start working as an architect and getting a job. You should also keep your license active throughout your career and get additional and continuous education. Being an architect isn’t easy, but it’s a rewarding profession whose legacy stays alive forever.

Specialize in a Niche

Specialize in a Niche

Once you have all the necessary licenses, certificates, and diplomas, you can start specializing in a niche. You can specialize in designing hospitals, business buildings, factories, financial institutions, residential homes, airports, sports facilities, schools, and sustainable buildings.

This way, you’ll narrow down your expertise and be the first choice of companies and investors when they need a highly specialized expert. You can develop your specialization through your studies, internships, or full-time work for architecture firms and discover your passion.

Get a Master’s Degree

Get a Master’s Degree

Though a Master’s Degree is not a requirement for becoming a successful architect, it can help you niche down and get better job opportunities.

Make sure you enroll in an accredited program by the NCARB, and that your studies match the career path you want to follow.

These Are the Steps to Becoming an Architect

Becoming an architect is no easy feat, and requires a high level of knowledge, commitment, and hard work. From getting a degree to passing national and state exams, this career path is challenging but worth the time and effort.

If you’re passionate about beautiful buildings, exquisite design, numbers and sketches, and a lifetime of learning, architecture is the right choice for you.

Need more design and architecture inspiration? We have tons of articles covering these topics right here on our website.

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