Career Development

What Does an Architect Do?

Find out what an architect does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an architect.

Architects are responsible for the design of buildings and other structures. They work closely with clients to determine what they want their building to look like, how it should function, and what materials should be used in its construction. Architects must have a deep understanding of engineering principles as well as an eye for aesthetics.

Architect Job Duties

Architects have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Developing plans for new construction projects, including estimating budgets and timelines, ordering supplies, hiring contractors, and supervising work progress
  • Coordinating with other architects on projects, such as working with engineers during the design phase and contractors during construction
  • Creating original designs for new buildings, homes, commercial spaces, or other structures
  • Developing plans for structural integrity and durability of buildings over time
  • Evaluating existing structures to identify any potential problems or code violations
  • Preparing drawings and models of designs using computer software programs such as AutoCAD or SketchUp
  • Reviewing building codes to ensure compliance with regulations
  • Preparing construction documents and other blueprints for projects
  • Creating sketches and models of designs using computer software programs such as AutoCAD or SketchUp

Architect Salary & Outlook

Architects’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and type of company for which they work.

  • Median Annual Salary: $92,500 ($44.47/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $153,000 ($73.56/hour)

The employment of architects is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

Employment growth will be limited because many buildings have been designed over the past several decades, and these structures will require fewer architectural designs in the future. However, some new buildings and renovations will be needed, which should result in some job growth for architects.

Architect Job Requirements

Architects typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: Architects need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in architecture or a related field, such as construction management or building science. These programs typically take four years to complete and include courses in design, construction, mathematics, building technology and business.

Many architects choose to pursue a master’s degree in architecture or architecture design. These programs typically take two years to complete and provide students with advanced knowledge and skills in architecture and design.

Training & Experience: Architects receive most of their training through internships and entry-level positions. During an internship, an architecture student gains hands-on experience in the field. They work under the supervision of a licensed architect to complete projects and learn the necessary skills to become an architect.

Architects who begin their careers as architectural technicians or architectural draftsmen also receive on-the-job training. These entry-level positions require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in architecture and at least two years of relevant work experience.

Certifications & Licenses: Candidates must pass the Architect Registration Examination provided by the NCARB before working independently as architects. Each state has its own specific requirements for licensure. All require that candidates pass the ARE. Some require additional experience or a supplementary exam as well.

Architect Skills

Architects need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Technical skills are the ability to use software, programs and tools related to architecture. This includes knowledge of computer-aided design (CAD) programs, 3D modeling software and other tools that help you create architectural designs. Technical skills also include the ability to use software for construction management, such as estimating software, to ensure you create a design that fits within your client’s budget.

Communication skills: Communication skills are necessary for architects to convey their ideas to clients, colleagues and other stakeholders. These skills allow you to explain your design ideas and answer questions from others. You can also use communication skills to negotiate with suppliers and contractors to ensure you get the materials you need to complete your projects.

Problem-solving skills: Architects use problem-solving skills to find solutions to challenges that arise during the design process. For example, if a building’s foundation isn’t strong enough to support the building’s proposed structure, the architect might suggest changing the building’s design to eliminate the weak foundation.

Project management skills: Project management is the ability to oversee the various aspects of a project, including the budget, schedule and team members. Architects often have to manage multiple projects at once, so it’s important for them to have strong project management skills. This includes the ability to delegate tasks, check in with team members and ensure that the project is on track to meet its goals.

Business acumen: Architects often have business acumen, or the ability to understand and navigate business practices. This can include knowing how to create a business plan, how to market your services and how to manage finances. Business acumen can help you start your own architecture firm or help you grow your business.

Architect Work Environment

Architects work in a variety of settings, including offices, factories, government buildings, and private homes. They spend most of their time working on designing projects, meeting with clients, and consulting with other architects and engineers. They also travel to job sites to observe construction progress and to meet with clients, contractors, and other professionals. Architects usually work a standard 40-hour week, although they may work longer hours to meet deadlines. They may also travel to attend conferences, meet with clients, or visit job sites.

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.

The Need for More Collaboration Between Architects and Developers

The need for more collaboration between architects and developers is a trend that is quickly becoming more common in the architecture industry. This is due to the fact that architects and developers now have to work together in order to create products that are both functional and visually appealing.

As a result, architects will need to be able to communicate effectively with developers in order to create a product that meets the needs of the client. They will also need to be able to understand the development process so that they can provide feedback on the product as it is being created.

A Greater Focus on User Experience (UX)

User experience (UX) has become an increasingly important focus for architects in recent years, as they have come to realize that the user experience is what makes or breaks a product.

By focusing on UX, architects can ensure that their designs are not only functional but also enjoyable to use. This requires a deep understanding of how users think and interact with products, which can be difficult to achieve without the help of professionals who specialize in UX.

More Attention Paid to Sustainability

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important issue for architects, as they are being asked to design buildings that are environmentally friendly. In order to meet this demand, architects will need to learn about sustainable building materials and practices.

They will also need to be able to communicate the benefits of sustainability to clients and stakeholders, as well as understand the financial implications of using sustainable materials.

How to Become an Architect

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends on your interests, skills, and goals. However, there are some common paths that many architects take.

One option is to specialize in a particular area of architecture, such as residential design, commercial design, or landscape architecture. You could also choose to focus on a specific building material, such as stone, wood, or concrete. Another option is to become a generalist architect who can work in any field or on any type of project.

No matter what path you choose, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies in architecture. Read architectural magazines and attend lectures and workshops. Network with other architects and professionals in related fields.

Related: How to Write an Architect Resume

Advancement Prospects

Architects typically advance in one of two ways: either by taking on more responsibility within their firm or by starting their own firm. As they take on more responsibility, they may be promoted from project manager to associate to partner. Those who start their own firms typically do so after several years of experience working for another firm. The most successful architects are those who are not only creative but also have good business sense and are able to market their services effectively.

Architect Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we believe the design of our buildings should inspire the people who use them. We’re looking for an experienced architect to join our team and help us create functional and beautiful spaces that reflect our brand and meet the needs of our clients. The ideal candidate will have a strong portfolio of commercial, institutional, and/or residential projects. He or she will be a creative problem solver with excellent communication and project management skills. The architect will be responsible for leading the design process from concept to completion, working with a team of engineers, designers, and consultants.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Design and develop high-level architectures for new or existing systems, ensuring feasibility, functionality, and scalability
  • Engage with business stakeholders to understand requirements and needs, translating them into technical specifications
  • Conduct research on latest industry trends and technologies to keep abreast of developments and apply them to improve system designs
  • Create detailed design documentation, including diagrams and flowcharts, to be used by development teams during implementation
  • Oversee development process to ensure adherence to architectural standards and best practices
  • Evaluate and recommend appropriate technology solutions to meet business needs
  • Identify and resolve performance bottlenecks and defects in existing systems
  • Assist in capacity planning and performance tuning
  • Work with other architects and engineers to create cohesive, integrated system designs
  • Provide leadership and mentorship to less experienced team members
  • Stay up-to-date with latest industry trends and developments
  • Participate in continuing education and training to maintain professional licensure

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in architecture from an accredited school
  • Master’s degree in architecture preferred
  • 5-10 years professional experience
  • Proficient in Revit, AutoCAD, SketchUp, and other design software
  • Strong portfolio of previous work
  • Excellent communication, writing, and presentation skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • LEED accreditation
  • Experience with sustainable design principles
  • Experience in project management
  • Registration as a licensed architect

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