What Is an Architect?

Architects design, plan and direct construction projects concerned with buildings - residential, commercial and industrial.

What Does an Architect Do?

An architect is involved in almost every stage of constructing a building or complex. They will consult on the original plans and use computer aided drafting and design to produce a workable blueprint. Once approved and construction is underway, they will usually be available to direct the process of building, including ensuring that the construction personnel adhere to the original specifications agreed with the client. Architects also work on building remodeling and extensions to existing buildings.

As well as the practical work, they may work to promote the interests of their business or industry - giving public talks, bidding for contracts, helping clients secure building work, sourcing material and keeping up with research advancements in the building industry. They engage in research, practical design and in some cases, the physical work of building.

Increasingly, architects are required to design plans to account for a number of environmental engineering issues. Where new sustainable materials are used, they may be required to alter existing plans to ensure it is of the most efficient and safe design. They may also be called on to take into account natural shading and heat dispersal to remove the need for air conditioning, especially in the hotter areas of the country or the world. They are fundamental to carbon reduction in the building process today.

Where Does an Architect Work?

At present, there are around 112,000 architects in the US. According to 2015 data, the overwhelming majority of qualified architects (69%) work for architectural consultancy firms. They will perform many of the tasks pointed out above under the direction of their employer. They spend their time traveling between offices and construction sites where they may direct and supervise construction work.

20%, that's around a fifth, are self-employed. They work on a consultancy basis, negotiating contracts for specific work. Their role will include all of the above, but they will be employed for a specific set of tasks - either the complete process or a single task.

What Is the Average Architect Salary?

According to BLS data in 2015, the median salary for architects in the US is $76,100. The recorded salary of the lowest 10% of earners was $46,080; the highest 10% of earners reported a salary of $125,550. In some cases, architects require ongoing training in-line with new regulations and to keep up to date with new methods and materials. An employment package will often include payment of education for those employed by an architectural firm.

StateTotal EmploymentBottom 25%Median SalaryTop 75%
District of Columbia2,020$58,740$79,520$102,770
New Hampshire260$50,120$63,290$95,940
New Jersey1,830$65,650$82,510$98,230
New Mexico430$51,300$68,020$91,720
New York9,140$60,920$74,270$94,600
North Carolina2,100$56,300$71,900$91,010
North Dakota180$56,630$68,770$79,800
Puerto Rico310$38,980$46,960$72,940
Rhode Island230$51,830$60,490$95,300
South Carolina990$47,540$61,750$81,130
South Dakota100$63,230$71,200$83,830
West Virginia110$61,130$71,280$89,210

Table data taken from BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes171011.htm)

Architecture Jobs & Job Description

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What Is the Job Demand for Architects?

Employment in this area is expected to grow some 7% in the period 2014-2024. This is about the average of all jobs in the US. Much of the demand for architectural services comes from construction. The more the country builds, the more demand there is. Naturally, this relies on the economic picture nationally and globally. Increasingly, architects with knowledge of sustainability will find they are in greater demand than those who do not. New technologies in CADD (computer aided design and drafting) and BIM (Building Information Modelling) could lead to a reduction in job posts with improved efficiency of production. Students with these skills will find greater demand.

What Are the Education Requirements to Become an Architect?

High school students will need good grades in relevant subjects, particularly in math and physics to gain access to a bachelor's degree in architecture. Most colleges offer this type of degree and students will usually study for five years in the US on custom Bachelor of Architecture degrees. These will include internships. Students will learn all about the methods, theory and processes of architecture. Increasingly, you will be expected to understand green building and sustainability, and issues such as environmental engineering. If the degree program does not offer this as standard, then select a relevant minor or elective.

Master of architecture degrees will prepare students for a life in academia and teaching, and for some more advanced roles. Studying a bachelor's degree and then a master's degree can take up to ten years depending on previous experience and background. Most students will not require this but it may be advantageous in some areas of the country and for some prestigious and well-paid positions. A doctoral program will only be suitable for those students seeking a career in academic research or in teaching at a college or a university department.

Regardless of where and when the student completes his or her studies, the majority of states require licensing and accreditation from one of the many architectural boards such as NAAB and NCARB. States will vary on requirements to be allowed to practice as an architect and you should check your relevant states laws and regulations. All states will require that the student complete an internship before licensing is permitted.

Architecture - Related Degrees

What Kind Of Societies and Professional Organizations Do Architects Have?

Architecture is a vital part of the economy and building network of the country. The following groups, boards and organizations can help you learn more about this area.