Career Development

Architect Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Architects design buildings and the spaces within them. They plan and coordinate the construction of buildings, sometimes also designing interiors and landscaping.

Architects design buildings and the spaces within them. They plan and coordinate the construction of buildings, sometimes also designing interiors and landscaping.

Architects are responsible for creating drawings that will become blueprints for the construction of buildings. They must work with other professionals to ensure that their designs are feasible and meet all legal requirements. They may supervise the construction of their designs, or they may only provide general oversight during the process.

Architects typically work in an office environment. They often work long hours, particularly during the design phase of a project. Most architects specialize in a particular area, such as residential, commercial, or industrial design.

Architect Job Duties

Typical job duties for architects include the following:

  • Planning and designing buildings, including commercial, residential, industrial, institutional, and infrastructure projects
  • Creating a schematic design based on a client’s needs
  • Creating 3D models of the building to show how it will look in real life
  • Supervising construction to ensure that all plans are followed correctly
  • Planning interior layouts of buildings, including electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems
  • Creating construction documents that include specifications for materials, colors, finishes, equipment, appliances, fixtures, lighting and more
  • Conducting feasibility studies to determine project costs and benefit

Some architects specialize in certain types of buildings or building materials, such as residential homes or skyscrapers. Other architects work with clients to develop customized designs that fit their needs and style preferences.

Architect Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for architects is $80,825. The highest-earning workers are bringing home more than $117,000 per year.

The employment of architects is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade. While there will be some growth in areas that need new construction, most of that growth will be in small firms. The growing popularity of design software will also result in fewer jobs as more organizations begin to do their own design work.

Architect Job Requirements

The requirements for architects are as follows:

Education: The most common route to becoming an architect is a bachelor’s degree in architecture. Other options include a bachelor’s degree in another field and then taking classes or working toward a master’s degree in architecture or a combination of work experience and coursework leading to certification. 

Experience: To become an architect, one typically begins as an intern while still in school. Internships often lead to full-time employment after graduation. Experience is very important when seeking employment as an architect. Employers prefer candidates who have worked on projects similar to those they will manage once employed. 

Certification: Many employers seek candidates who hold professional certification from one of several organizations, including the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). These certifications are intended to ensure that candidates meet minimum standards for education and experience.

Architect Skills

To be an architect, you must possess the following skills:

Math and science skills: Architects use geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and other mathematical concepts on a daily basis.

Technical drawing skills: Architects must know how to create accurate drawings of building plans using computer-aided design (CAD) software.

Interpersonal skills: Architects work with clients, contractors, engineers, subcontractors, and others throughout the course of their workday. Good interpersonal skills are crucial in order to build strong working relationships with these people.

Problem-solving skills: Architects often solve problems that come up during construction or renovation projects. For example, they may need to find ways to make sure electrical wires can fit through walls without being damaged. They may also need to figure out how to prevent rainwater from damaging interior spaces while allowing natural light into the building. These types of problems require careful planning and creative solutions.

Design creativity: A creative mind is an asset when designing new buildings or redesigning existing ones. It helps you come up with innovative ideas that might not have occurred to someone else. Creativity also allows you to see solutions where others may only see problems.

Detail-oriented: Architects must pay close attention to details when working on plans for a building. They need to notice small things that may affect the outcome of a project. 

Architect Work Environment

An architect’s work environment is frequently characterized as intellectually stimulating. Because their job requires a great deal of creativity, they spend much of the time indoors in quiet, pleasant surroundings. 

Architects usually use computers to design buildings or do other computer-related tasks. They also may have to travel extensively to conduct research or to view projects. Architects must meet deadlines because their projects are often large-scale and require months to complete. Frequent interaction with clients can be stressful due to tight schedules. This requires them to make many decisions on short notice.

Architect Career Advancement

Depending on your company, you could have opportunities to advance into project management or leadership roles. Some firms have a dedicated position for managing the firm’s projects. If you are successful in this role, you could be promoted to project leader. This position oversees the entire project lifecycle, from the initial design to the construction phase.

If you are interested in advancing your career as an architect, you’ll need to stay on top of current trends in the industry. You may want to take classes or workshops to learn more about your field. Maintaining a professional reputation with colleagues is also an important part of advancing your career.

Architect Trends

Here are three trends influencing how architects work. Architects will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Increased Interest in Green Building

Green buildings are becoming increasingly popular due to their potential for reducing costs associated with building maintenance, energy use, and more.

These buildings are often designed to be as energy-efficient as possible by incorporating features like rainwater collection systems, natural lighting, and passive heating and cooling strategies.

Because of the complex nature of green building design, this trend will have a significant impact on the hiring process for architects over the next decade, who will need strong experience with sustainable construction methods. 

Data Analytics

Data analytics is becoming increasingly important for architects, particularly as the profession moves towards more collaborative forms of design.

While this data can be collected in many ways, the most effective tools include physical sensors that collect data about how people interact with their environment.

This can help architects make more informed decisions about design features, such as accessibility and sustainability—which are becoming increasingly important to clients. 

Increasing Importance of Software Skills

In the world of architecture, a range of skill sets is necessary to be successful. Architects must know how to communicate their vision in a variety of formats, from two-dimensional sketches to 3D renderings and software programs that help them create visualizations for clients.

In addition, the ability to communicate how this software works is crucial when working with clients who may not have any experience in this field, and who may need to learn new concepts related to designing a home or business. 

How to Become an Architect

1. Planning Your Career Path

If you’re interested in a career as an architect, it’s important to gain experience with the different types of firms and architectural styles. For example, if you want to work for a large firm that primarily designs office buildings, volunteer at a local architecture firm to get your foot in the door.

The world of architecture is highly competitive, so start preparing for this career path early on by gaining some work experience or taking classes related to architecture. Consider studying subjects like math and science in high school and taking some basic courses at a community college.

Architects also need to be skilled in the creative arts as well as technical fields. For example, you will need to understand design principles, including color theory and composition, as well as structural engineering concepts like load-bearing materials and stability.

2. Writing a Resume

The best resumes for architects highlight their creativity, communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and attention to detail. It is also important to highlight their experience with CAD software if they are working in the industry.

While highlighting your work history, focus on instances that reflect your ability to communicate effectively with clients and resolve problems. For example, you may want to talk about how you worked with a designer or engineer to create designs that were achievable within budget and achievable in the specified time frame. Also include details such as the type of buildings you designed, where they were built, your role in the project, and how many people you were responsible for managing.

Highlight any awards you’ve won or recognition you’ve received for any projects completed. If possible, quantify these by including specific numbers like revenue generated by the final product or the number of people who benefited from it.

3. Applying for Jobs

The architecture field is highly competitive, so the best way to secure a job is to build your portfolio and remain active in the field. Showcasing your work in your portfolio is a key part of your application.

You can reach out to industry-specific recruiters to streamline your job search. You can also use job search engines like Architectural Digest to find opportunities in your area. And, you can try contacting companies you’d like to work for directly. Try to find the type of firm that fits your personality and your professional goals.

Networking can also be valuable in your job search; attend architecture conferences, join architecture-related groups on LinkedIn, and participate in industry-related social media groups. You can also get involved in the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) if you have the time.

4. Ace the Interview

When applying for an architecture job, you should know that the interview process will be focused on your design abilities. The interviewer will want to see how your previous projects fit with the position you are applying for. Prepare for this section of the interview by having some examples of your work on hand. You can even visit some of your old offices or job sites to look over the designs again.

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