Steps to Become an Architect: An Education Guide

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Jun 3, 2019

Jun 3, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

If you’re thinking about becoming an architect, you’ll want to keep reading.

It’s no wonder over 2 million people have chosen this route. Not only do you get to create mesmerizing buildings, but you’re paid well to do so. Being an architect can be a lucrative and creative career.

Keep reading the steps to become an architect.

Step 1: Education

The first step to beginning your dream career is to complete your schooling. It should come as no surprise to you that every successful architect has an education in their field. Without it, you won’t be hired.

If you haven’t already, achieve your high school diploma or GED. It may seem like a small achievement, but it’s the real first step in obtaining your career. This is the only way you can gain access to the college courses you’ll need.

Next, you’ll search for a National Architectural Accrediting Board accredited institution that offers a bachelor’s degree. You’ll learn design, construction, history, and more. The knowledge you gain will change how you think and the way you view the world around you.

Step 2: Internship/Training

While you’re in school, expect stiff competition for internships. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a high number of students graduating in this field. Since the job growth is projected to be slower than the average for all occupations, there’s a chance you won’t be the only student a company is considering.

Once you land your internship, you’ll gain access to hands-on training and experience. Like the fully established architects, you’ll be spending your time either in an office or at a construction site. Use this as a time to soak in more information and gain referrals for your future job hunting.

It’s true that you may not earn a lot or design much while going through training programs, but these lessons will be valuable for your success. Not only will they help you excel in your career, but they’ll prepare you for the big next step to become an architect.

Step 3: Certifications and Licenses

Believe it or not, but being an architect is a highly regulated profession. You can’t leap from school to career. If you want to legally work in this field, you’ll need to be licensed.

Every architect must be licensed with the National Council Architecture Registration Board. Although you may be registered nationally, this doesn’t necessarily give you access to work anywhere. You’ll need to check with your state for any additional exams needed.

You can improve your credibility in the workforce by obtaining the open group architecture framework (TOGAF® 9) certification. Not only does it help your resume, but it can provide access to training tools.

Step 4: Land Your Dream Job

Once you’re fully prepared with experience, knowledge, and the licenses you’ll need, it’s time to find the right place for you to grow. A quick job search should provide you with a few openings around the country. Once you’ve found a company that works for you, it’ll be up to you to get their attention.

One of the first things your future employer will look for is a professional, one-page resume. You can view this as your highlight reel. Be sure to include your education, work experience, licenses and certifications, and other accomplishments.

When you’re in the interview, find a way to stand out from the rest. Show up on time, ask questions, and be confident in your abilities. This will show your interviewer that not only are you knowledgeable, but you’re someone they would want to have around.

Step 5: Continue Education

Now that you’ve landed your dream career, you probably think the education process is over. When it comes to working as an architect, you can always benefit from more knowledge. That’s because you’re required to renew your licensure or maintain certification.

Additionally, you’ll remain current in technology and industry trends. You can join a continued education program for licensed architects to cover more advanced topics. This can be anything from architectural acoustics to fire safety.

Another option would be to return to school for a graduate degree or post-professional program. Depending on your previous education, a master’s can take anywhere from 1 to 5 years. While programs aren’t typically accredited, they can result in a higher degree.

Benefits of Taking Steps to Become an Architect

While the job growth is slower than other careers, it’s still growing. The BLS reports employment’s projected to increase by 4% nationally by 2026. This will take it from 128k to 134k architects in the United States.

The median pay in 2018 for this field was over $75k per year. While this will bring more competition for the same position, you’ll be prepared for it. You can choose to focus your efforts on the expertise that’s in demand, to separate you from the rest and give you a leg up on the competition.

When you become an architect, you may benefit mentally. You’ll reach a level where you'll feel more knowledgeable, become more creative, and be more responsible with the strict deadlines that come included in your job duties. The skills gained can have a ripple effect on other parts of your life.

If you still need an extra push to go for it, imagine knowing you left your mark on this world in a way that others can enjoy.

Bottom Line

Now that you know the steps to become an architect, it’s time to begin the journey to your successful career. The process can take years, but as you’ve learned, the time spent is worth the outcome. Once you’re designing, you’ll be happy you chose this path.

Keep reading our blog for more career tips and insights.