How to Become an Architect?

By The Arty Teacher - November 4, 1989

What is an Architect?

An architect is a highly trained and skilled professional responsible for designing and planning the construction of buildings and structures. They play a pivotal role in shaping the physical environment we live and work in. Architects blend creativity, technical knowledge, and a deep understanding of the needs and aspirations of their clients to create functional, aesthetically pleasing, and sustainable designs. Their work involves considering factors such as safety, building codes, environmental impact, and budget constraints while also ensuring that the final design aligns with the cultural, social, and practical requirements of the intended space. Architects may work on a wide range of projects, from residential homes and commercial buildings to public spaces and urban planning, contributing to the development and transformation of our cities and landscapes.

What Skills does an Architect need?

Becoming an architect requires skills in creative design, technical drawing, problem-solving, computer software proficiency, and strong communication abilities to collaborate with clients and construction teams, all while having a keen eye for detail and a passion for creating remarkable structures.

What Qualifications does an Architect Need?

Typically, becoming an architect necessitates a bachelor’s or master’s degree in architecture from an accredited institution. After completing their education, aspiring architects usually undergo an internship or practical training period under the guidance of experienced professionals. Following this, they are required to pass a licensing examination, such as the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) in the United States, to become a registered or licensed architect. Additionally, architects should stay updated with evolving construction technologies, sustainable design practices, and building codes, which often involves continuing education to maintain their professional licenses. International organizations like the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the International Union of Architects (UIA) set global standards for the profession, ensuring that architects around the world meet the necessary qualifications to deliver safe, innovative, and culturally sensitive designs in a constantly changing built environment.

Types of Architect

There are several specialised types of architects, each focusing on distinct areas of expertise and project types. Some of the most common types of architects include:

  1. Residential Architect: These architects specialize in designing homes, from single-family houses to multi-unit residential buildings.
  2. Commercial Architect: Commercial architects work on non-residential structures, including office buildings, retail spaces, and industrial facilities.
  3. Industrial Architect: These architects focus on designing facilities for manufacturing and industrial purposes, such as factories, warehouses, and distribution centers.
  4. Landscape Architect: Landscape architects design outdoor spaces, parks, gardens, and landscapes, often integrating natural and built environments.
  5. Interior Architect: Interior architects concentrate on the interior design of spaces, focusing on factors like layout, finishes, and furnishings to create functional and aesthetically pleasing interiors.
  6. Urban or City Planner: Urban planners work on city-wide development, infrastructure, and land use projects, aiming to create sustainable and well-organised urban environments.
  7. Green or Sustainable Architect: These architects specialize in environmentally friendly and energy-efficient designs, promoting sustainability and eco-friendly building practices.
  8. Historic Preservation Architect: Historic preservation architects are dedicated to conserving and restoring historically significant buildings and structures.
  9. Healthcare Architect: Healthcare architects design medical facilities, hospitals, clinics, and healthcare environments that meet the specific needs of patients and medical professionals.
  10. Educational Architect: Educational architects focus on planning and designing schools, colleges, and educational facilities, considering the unique requirements of educational institutions.
  11. Interior Designer: While not technically architects, interior designers work closely with architects to plan interior spaces, selecting colors, materials, furnishings, and decor.
  12. Naval Architect: These architects specialise in designing ships, boats, and marine structures, often in the field of naval engineering.
  13. Aeronautical Architect: Aeronautical architects design aircraft and related structures, including airports and hangars.

What Now?

Below are some ideas of what you could do now to start building a relevant CV for becoming an architect.

  1. Focus on Academics: Maintain a strong academic record, particularly in subjects related to mathematics, physics, and art. Good grades are a crucial foundation.
  2. Participate in Art and Design Classes: Enroll in art, drawing, and design courses to develop your creative and visual skills, which are essential for architects.
  3. Join Architecture or STEM Clubs: Many schools have architecture clubs or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) clubs that can provide hands-on experience and exposure to architectural concepts.
  4. Intern or Volunteer: Seek out internships or volunteer opportunities with architectural firms, design studios, or construction companies to gain practical experience and insight into the field.
  5. Participate in Design Competitions: Enter design competitions or contests to showcase your skills and build a portfolio. Many organizations and schools host such events.
  6. Build a Portfolio: Create a digital or physical portfolio showcasing your best design work, drawings, and projects. Include descriptions of your design process and any software skills you’ve acquired.
  7. Learn Design Software: Familiarize yourself with design software commonly used in the industry, such as AutoCAD, SketchUp, and Adobe Creative Suite.
  8. Attend Workshops and Seminars: Attend architectural workshops, seminars, and lectures to expand your knowledge and network with professionals.
  9. Participate in Summer Programs: Some universities and architectural organizations offer summer programs for high school students interested in architecture. These can be a great way to learn and make connections.
  10. Get Involved in Community Projects: Volunteer for community projects involving construction or design, which can demonstrate your commitment to the field and your community.
  11. Seek Mentorship: If possible, find a mentor who is an architect or a design professional. They can provide guidance and insight into the industry.
  12. Excel in Communication: Develop strong written and verbal communication skills, as architects often need to convey their ideas clearly to clients and colleagues.
  13. Stay Informed: Keep up with architecture trends and the work of influential architects by reading books, magazines, and online resources.
  14. Participate in Extracurriculars: Join clubs or organizations that demonstrate leadership and teamwork skills, as these are valuable attributes for architects.
  15. Maintain a Strong Work Ethic: Show dedication, attention to detail, and a strong work ethic in all your activities and projects.

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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