What Degrees Do You Need To Be An Architect?

Architects are licensed professionals who plan and design buildings that are safe, beautiful, and functional. An architect is usually involved in every phase of the design process and development of a building. 

For students who love designs, the architecture major may be a career path worth pursuing combining elements of science and math with multi-layered levels drawing upon the creative arts. 

Becoming an architect can be a challenging and rewarding career path.

With a nearly limitless demand for architecture including landscape design and residential dwellings, places of employment & business, restaurants, educational & health care facilities, and shopping centers, to name but a few, there is a steadily growing need for qualified licensed architects in the world mostly in the United States.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything relating to what degrees you need to be an architect.

What Degrees Do You Need To Be An Architect

Acquiring a bachelor’s degree in architecture at a university is the first step toward your architecture career goal. 

Statistically speaking, students without any prior training at an architecture school earn their professional degree through a 5-year Bachelor of Architecture degree program. 

Although many students desire architecture degrees, undergraduate admissions into architecture programs can be extremely competitive due to the popularity and competitiveness of the discipline.

Moreover, an extra year of college education filled with additional architecture classes is required to graduate from an architecture undergraduate degree program. 

Majority of students continue on to a graduate program to pursue their master’s degree in architecture, which can take an additional 5 years of schooling. 

Though, the amount of time spent on this career depends on the individual’s level of previous architectural education and training. Any aspiring architect should plan out their education mindfully to avoid the program taking longer than 5 years. 

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Responsibilities Of An Architect

Architects plan and design a vast array of structures including interior design, for residential homes, corporate buildings, commercial factories, and other similar types of construction, and are therefore responsible for a broad range of expertise and specialized skill sets in their field. 

With duties including projects that involve private and public projects, as well as indoor and outdoor spaces, an architect may be commissioned to design nearly anything imaginable, from an individual room to an entire complex of buildings.

So If you’re thinking of becoming an architect, it’s important to know what to expect in your daily routine, both in the office and on the job site. 

Below are a few of the primary responsibilities you should expect:

  • Provide direction to workers who prepare and draft blueprints, renderings/ drawings & other pertinent documents.
  • Supply preliminary estimates on the projected cost & construction time of a project
  • Oversee & manage construction contracts and related paperwork (e.g. building codes, fire regulations, zoning laws, and other related ordinances, such as wheelchair accessibility)
  • Meet with clientele to determine the project’s requirements, specifications & objectives.
  • Draft and prepare contractual documents for building contractors, engineers, design firms and related staff.
  • Prepare scaled drawings (either with computer software or by hand)
  • Formulate structure specifications
  • Oversee new projects & accounts via marketing efforts and giving presentations
  • Visit worksites to ensure that the outlined architectural plans are being adhered to throughout every phase of construction.
  • Collaborate with workers in related occupations, such as civil engineers, interior designers/design firms, drafters, landscape architects, and urban & regional planners.
  • Seasoned architects and those with seniority may also assist clients in various ways, such as selecting contractors, negotiating construction contracts and even obtaining construction bids.

From all the listed responsibilities, architects discuss the requirements, objectives, and budget of a specific project with their clients, as well as overseeing construction from inception to completion.

Qualities Of A Successful Architect

If pursuing this career is still your goal. It is necessary that you know the desirable qualities and skills that you need to possess in order to have a successful 5 year journey in the institution.

Below are the basic desirable qualities:

  • Analytical Aptitude: 

In order to succeed in this career path, an architect must have an infinite comprehension of the design elements, mathematics, and sciences entailed and the context in which they were formulated. 

For instance, an in-depth understanding of the locations of mechanical systems and how these systems affect building operations is essential to the occupation.

  • Communication Savvy: 

Due to the highly verbal and written nature of this industry, an architect must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills with a clear ability to get his or her point across in the most concise fashion since an architect’s job description involves heavy collaboration between co workers such as draftsman, graphic and interior designers, senior staff, interns, other architects, construction workers, urban planning developers, civil engineers, and of course clients, having the ability to articulate oneself appropriately is penultimate to success.

  • Creative Abilities: 

Since the overall aesthetic of a structure is dependent on the design, flow and layout of a building. 

Having an artistic flair and creative eye is essential to the career path.

In addition to the look and feel of a building, the end result should seamlessly blend form and functionality, as well as take the environmental impact of the structure’s footprint or architectural upgrades into the equation.

  • Organizational Proficiency: 

Because the job of an architect involves contracts, in-depth paperwork, email correspondence, blueprints, renderings/drawings, and other digital and hard collateral, it is the individual’s responsibility to have superb organizational skills. 

Careful maintenance of records addressing all of the moving parts of a project such as the cost analysis, materials used, project details, and charting progress is crucial in the business world.

  • Technical Expertise: 

With the constantly-evolving landscape of digital technology and upgrades in software. 

An architect needs to stay detailed on the latest architectural technology and tools in the industry, even if it entails continuing education and up-to-date architectural practices. 

Using programs such as CADD are required when creating plans for building information modeling (BIM) and drafting designs. 

it is therefore highly desirable to have intermediate to advanced computer skills.

  • Visualization Skills: 

Possessing above-average spatial recognition skills and the capacity to see how the parts of a structure relate to one another is key to the success of a professional architect. 

They must also have the ability to visualize how the completed structure will look from the interior design of the building to the placement of the new building in an urban environment, as well as excellent hand-drawing skills. 

Hand-drawing skills are the perfect art form to briefly visualize how the building will look. 

Finally, an architect must have the ability to verbally explain his/her vision to clients and staff.

During the bachelor’s degree program, an architecture student can expect to take courses in a variety of concentrations, including:

  • Architectural Design History and Theory
  • Building design with a focus on CADD, structures, construction methods & professional practices
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Sciences
  • Liberal Arts
  • Graphic Design

The master’s degree architecture program will expose students to more in-depth knowledge of architecture and architecture courses, including:

  • Architectural History
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Design Studio experience
  • Design Theory

In the US, there are currently 34 states that require architects to hold a professional degree in architecture from an accredited professional degree program. The 123 schools of architecture accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) with individual state licensing requirements can be found on the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) website. 

In the states that do not stipulate such requirements, applicants may receive their license with 8-13 years of relevant work experience in addition to a high school diploma. However, it should be noted that most architects in these states still obtain their professional accredited degree in architecture.

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Education & Training On Becoming An Architect

There are three primary steps required to become a licensed architect such as:

  • College/University: 

Completing a professional degree in architecture that has been accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and qualifies for state licensure.

  • Internship: 

Obtaining relevant experience & professional practice via paid internship(s)

  • Final Exam: 

Passing a series of comprehensive exams knowns as the Architect Registration Examination (ARE)

Architectural Training Requirements

Although all state architectural registration boards demand architecture graduates to complete a comprehensive paid internship before taking the ARE, most new graduates finish their training period by working within architectural firms through the Architectural Experience Program (AXP). 

Administered by NCARB, this program prepares and guides students through their internship process.

Required Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations For An Architect

In order to become a licensed architect in the US or in any part of the world, applicants are required to complete a professional degree in architecture, gain on-the-job experience through a paid internship, and also pass the ARE exam.

Additionally, most states require annual license renewal via continuing education. 

Although requirements may vary from state to state, typically they entail workshops, self-study courses, university classes, conferences or other approved resources.

Being a registered architect makes it easier to become licensed across various states, so many architects are voluntarily pursuing certification from NCARB. 

According to 2014 statistics, approximately one-third of all licensed architects possessed NCARB certification.

Work Environment Of An Architect

Although the majority of architects work full-time (including overtime hours, particularly when working under a deadline), there is some flexibility in the industry depending on your career goals, lifestyle and personal preferences. 

For instance, self-employed architects typically work for themselves because they desire a less rigid work schedule.

As far as work culture, most architects spend the majority of their time in the office, where they meet with clients, collaborate with other architects, engineers, and staff, and develop reports and drawings, among other multi-tiered responsibilities. 

In addition, regular visits to construction sites are necessary in order to oversee the progress of the project and ensure all objectives are being satisfied. 

In some instances, architects may have the option to work from their home office or own an individual design studio.


Just bear in mind that to be successful in this career choice as an architect. There is a need for you to properly understand what becoming an architect entails such as the necessary educational requirements and degrees.

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