Architects design, plan and oversee the construction of various types of buildings. An architect is responsible for the aesthetics, usefulness and safety of the building. They need to consider the effects their buildings will have on natural and artificial surroundings. They work on a wide a array of projects. Some architects have specialities such as shopping centers, factories, health facilities or school campuses. They collaborate with urban planners, engineers, landscape architects and contractors.
Architects design buildings that meet the needs of their clients while also conforming to applicable regulations and laws. The also need to take into consideration the needs of people that will use the building. An architect has to determine what type of design the building should have in relation to the site. They take into consideration the nearby buildings, climate and the slope of the site.
They typically use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software to develop preliminary sketches of buildings. These sketches provide the general appearance of the outside and inside of the building and the building's location at the site. After an architect receives approval from the client they develop more detailed plans which indicate exactly how the structure will be built. When the construction project begins the architect frequently visits the project site to ensure the plans are being followed.
- Inspect the building site
- Collaborate with clients to determine which contractor will be hired to construct the building
- Create preliminary sketches
- Provide specifications of the materials to be used and the methods for installation
- Revise plans to meet client's expectations
- Provide diagrams for heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts and show the paths for electrical wiring and plumbing pipes
- Determine if the contract between the client and the contractor has been satisfied
- Use detailed drawings to indicate placement and dimensions of walls and windows
- Approve the materials being used for the construction project
- Work with landscape planners, engineers and other personnel at the site
The amount of details that are taken care of by architects depends on the size of the company. In large architectural offices, other personnel take care of the smaller details. They spend a lot of their time working in offices. They also visit construction sites.
Architects need artistic, organizing, coordinating, planning and business skills. They need to be creative and understand spacial relationships. Architects need to have skills with computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 16 percent employment growth for architects between 2008 and 2018 which is faster than the average for all occupations. Some architecture firms outsource the basic design work for large scale residential and commercial projects and the drafting of construction documents to architecture firms located in other countries. This trend is expected to continue and could have a negative impact on employment growth for lower-level architects and interns who would seek to gain experience by developing these drawings.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states there should be a demand for architects that have knowledge about "green" design, also called sustainable design. Green design emphasizes the efficient use of resources such as water and energy. It also emphasizes conservation, pollution and waste reduction, and environmentally friendly design, materials and specifications.
In 2008 the median annual earnings for wage and salary architects was $70,320. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $119,220. In addition, approximately 21 percent of architects are self-employed.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Most states require an architect to earn a professional degree in architecture from an architecture school that has degree programs that have received accreditation from the National Architectural Accrediting Board. However, state architectural registration boards establish their own standards, thus candidates that graduate from a non-accredited program may meet the educational requirements for licensing in a few states. In addition a growing number of architects voluntarily seek certification from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.
Most architects have acquired their professional degree from a five year bachelor of architecture degree program. Some architects acquire a master's degree after completing a bachelor's degree program in another field or after completing a pre-professional architecture program. Many schools of architecture provide post-professional degrees for individuals that already have a bachelor's or a master's degree in architecture or other subjects.
Every state architectural registration board requires architecture graduates to complete a training period which typically lasts at least three years before they can take the licensing exam. Every state adheres to the training standards set by the Intern Development Program, which is a program of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and the American Institute of architects. Most graduates complete their training by working as interns at architectural firms.
Every state requires individuals to be licensed before they are allowed to call themselves architects and contract to provide architectural services. Licensing requirements include earning a professional degree in architecture, completing a period of practical training or an internship and they must also pass all divisions of the Architect Registration Examination. Most states also require some form of continuing education for architects to maintain their license.
- The American Institute of Architects
- The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
- The National Architectural Accrediting Board
The top employers are architectural firms, engineering services firms, building construction firms, and federal, state and local government agencies.
Schools for Architects are listed in the Browse Schools Section.