Education Needed to Become an Architect
Architects are licensed specialists who design and plan structures that are attractive, functional and safe. They can be involved in every phase of a building's development from conception to construction. Required education for architects includes a professional bachelor's or master's degree in architecture and the completion of an internship.
Education Requirements for Architects
Prospective architects must complete a professional degree program that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board in order to become licensed in most states. High school graduates who want to become an architect may enroll in a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) program. Students who have already earned a bachelor's degree in another field like architectural history or construction management and want to pursue a career as an architect may matriculate to a Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) program. These advanced programs are also open to applicants who have professional B.Arch. degrees and want to specialize in a field, such as historic preservation, design theory or solar design.
The B.Arch. program is typically completed in five years, while pre-professional bachelor's degree programs in architectural studies or construction management take four years to complete. Students can earn a professional M.Arch. degree in two years with a pre-professional undergraduate degree in architecture or three years with a bachelor's in another field. Students who have already completed a B.Arch. program can generally complete an M.Arch. program in one year.
Educational Prerequisites for Professional Architecture Programs
Prospective undergraduate architecture students may be required to submit a portfolio demonstrating their design skills. College entrance exam scores and high school grade point averages are also carefully considered, since architecture programs tend to be highly competitive.
Students seeking admission to professional M.Arch. programs may have an advantage if they have design experience and an undergraduate education in humanities or art. Some schools require a portfolio featuring the applicant's best sketches and models. Once enrolled, M.Arch. students may be required to complete certain prerequisites, such as architectural theory, before proceeding with professional coursework.
Curriculum for Architecture Education
The core curriculum is similar in both professional bachelor's and master's degree programs. Topics of study generally include:
- Building and materials construction
- Freehand and digital drafting
- Modern and historical architectural styles
- Environmental systems
- Architectural design
In-class learning can be complemented by work in a design studio, where students implement what they've learned to create drawings and 3-D models. Both programs generally culminate in a design or research thesis project.
Internship Requirements for Architects
In order to be licensed, prospective architects must complete an internship administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). The internship program requires completing a minimum of 5,600 hours of training.
Interns work under the supervision of a licensed architect and gain experience in a variety of architectural skills, including schematic design, building cost analysis and project management. Once these requirements are met, interns are eligible to take the Architect Registration Exam (ARE) to become registered - or licensed - architects.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
A 24% growth spurt was expected for architects, between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The annual median wage for this professions was $73,090, according to the BLS in 2012.
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