Architect: How to Become an Architect

Published Aug 13, 2009

RSS Feed

Architecture is an ideal field for creative and detail-oriented individuals who have a touch of artistic flair. Architects design buildings and other structures, planning out everything from form and function to fashion. To become an architect, you'll need a professional degree in architecture, in addition to a state-administered license.

Working as an Architect

Architects are the creative force behind the design of buildings and other structures, ranging from town homes to skyscrapers. Of course, being an architect isn't just about creating a design that looks good. Buildings also must be sturdy and sustainable. Every detail, from the air conditioning system to the roof shingles, has to be planned in meticulous detail.

Architects create blueprints, either by hand or using computer aided drafting (CAD) tools. These plans demonstrate both how a building should look and how it should be built. Once the final designs are approved by the client, the architect generally sticks around during the building process, often supervising construction from an on-site office.

Earning a Degree as an Architect

To work as an architect, you'll need either a Bachelor of Architecture, which is a 5-year professional degree, or a Master of Architecture. Many schools also offer 4-year pre-professional bachelor's degrees in architecture, but these won't satisfy professional licensing requirements. Graduates of these programs need the professional master's degree.

Professional architecture programs are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), Courses in these programs typically cover electrical systems, drafting, construction and building science.

Getting Licensed as an Architect

Architecture licensing requirements vary by state, and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB),, acts as a liaison between state boards. Many states require that applicants have an NAAB-accredited professional degree to gain licensure. Applicants also may have to complete an internship with a licensed architect. Finally, aspiring architects must pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), which is administered by the NCARB.

Featured School Choices: