Architects design all different types of structures and environments that are not only pleasing to the eye, but practical and sustainable as well. You might have a picture in your mind of an architect sitting at their drafting table, designing iconic buildings that define a city’s skyline. While this is certainly what an architect does, there are additional careers, specialties and responsibilities to consider when thinking about a career in architecture. Careers for architecture majors include:
- Building architects.
- Building designers.
- Building planners.
- Structural architects.
If your student has an interest in an architecture degree, here’s some information they’ll need to know about a career in the field.
What does an architecture major study?
If your student pursues an architectural studies degree, in addition to general classes such as math, English and social sciences, they’ll take plenty of architecture classes. Courses can include architecture history, architecture technology, and drawing and modeling techniques. They’ll likely have semester-long class projects and may take on an internship as well.
What areas can an architect specialize in?
There are many different kinds of architectural specialties. Your student can focus on one of the areas below:
- Residential architect — Design homes and home additions.
- Commercial architect — Design commercial buildings such as grocery stores, hotels, office buildings and skyscrapers.
- Landscape architect — Create beautiful, functional outdoor spaces such as parks, campuses or residential yards.
- Interior architect — Design the interiors of buildings such as homes or offices.
- Urban design architect — Design neighborhoods or other large-scale areas.
- Green building design architect — Design structures to be environmentally friendly with a low carbon footprint.
- Industrial architecture — Design industrial buildings such as factories and distribution centers.
What skills are required?
Architects are hired to design anything from a single room to an entire complex of buildings. They design public and private projects for both indoor and outdoor spaces. Architects must follow state and local building codes, zoning laws, fire regulations, and other ordinances when developing designs. Specific skill sets include:
After discussing and agreeing on the initial proposal with clients, architects use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) and building information modeling (BIM) to create designs and construction drawings and develop final construction plans.
During the conceptual stages of a project, hand-drawing skills are usually needed. The architect's plans show the building's appearance and construction details. These plans include drawings of the structural system; air-conditioning, heating and ventilating systems; electrical systems; communications systems; and plumbing. Sometimes, landscape plans are included as well.
During construction, architects may visit building sites to ensure that contractors follow the design, adhere to the schedule, use the specified materials and meet work-quality standards.
Architects may also help clients get construction bids, select contractors and negotiate construction contracts.
Architects discuss the objectives, requirements and budget of a project with clients. In some cases, architects provide various pre-design services, such as feasibility and environmental impact studies, site selection, cost analysis, and design requirements.
Architects often collaborate with people in related occupations, such as civil engineers, urban and regional planners, drafters, interior designers, and landscape architects.
What is the salary and additional training for an architect?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an architect can expect to earn a median salary of $80,180 per year.
State architectural registration boards require architecture graduates to complete a three-year paid internship before taking the Architect Registration Examination. Most new graduates complete their training period by working an internship at architectural firms through the NCARB Architectural Experience Program (AXP).
Here are some of the most common architecture jobs for architecture majors:
Architectural project manager, building architect, design architect, principal architect, town planner, architectural engineer, industrial architect
Professor, adjunct professor, instructor, associate professor
Designer, director of landscape architecture and planning, golf course architect, land planner.
Restoration architect, interior designer, interior architect.