How to Be a Professional Architect

An architect designs a variety of structures and buildings, such as government buildings, hospitals, and, of course, houses. These architects concern themselves with the aesthetics, legal issues, practicality, safety, and functionality of a building’s design. They also often take part in the entire building process- starting with the initial concept right through to construction- in a bid to ensure that the result is a satisfactory one. Many work over long hours when deadlines are looming.

Degree programmes

State architecture boards determine what is required for an individual to become a professional architect. The majority of boards require a five-year bachelor’s degree in architecture with National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accreditation. Courses can include environmental planning, structural elements, project management, and building technology and systems. There are competitions available to architecture degree students, with some run by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. They present a challenge to students, as they ask them to design structures that adhere to such themes as sustainability. Taking part in these competitions provides experience to aspiring architects that they can include on their resumes, in addition to feedback on their designs.

Internships and training

Each state requires that architects undertake internship programmes or training before obtaining a license. Internships usually take three years, while providing experience to aspiring architects under the guidance of experienced and licensed architects. The majority of states offer the Intern Development Program (IDP). To complete the IDP, an aspiring architect is required to undertake 5,600 total hours of work approved by both the state and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). This work is a combination of core and elective hours. There are four primary areas of experience covered, which are project management, pre-design, practice management, and design. Interns gain knowledge in a number of topics, such as contract negotiation, zoning regulations, building and site analysis, and schematic design.

State licenses

An architect is required to obtain a license from the state where they practice their profession. While there are no consistent conditions that exist for obtaining one, the majority of states require an internship in addition to a degree. A qualified applicant may take the NCARB’s Architect Registration Examination (ARE). This is a seven-part test that the applicant either passes or fails, and which covers topics in construction documents, site planning, and building systems. Many architects earn NCARB certification. This is voluntary and demonstrates a professional level of aptitude. It may also help in obtaining a reciprocal license from a different state. Candidates might be asked to take part in further testing or attend an interview before they are awarded the certificate.

Architects may regularly be asked to renew their license by obtaining credits from continuing education. The vast majority of states require that architects complete a predetermined number of hours on either a biannual or annual basis. Continuing education also helps architects to remain aware of technology innovations and industry trends. The NCARB provides licensed architects the opportunity to undertake a variety of options in continuing education that cover such advanced topics as fire safety, and architectural acoustics.