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Overview

Architects play a vital role in our society. They are responsible for designing the buildings that are all around us, form family homes to skyscrapers. In order to earn a degree in architecture, a person needs to complete a program that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. Some universities offer non-accredited programs, but graduates from accredited schools will have an easier time of taking the licensure test, the Architectural Registration Exam.

Architecture degrees are available at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. A bachelor’s degree generally takes four or five years to complete. A graduate degree can take as little as one year and up to five years depending on the school. Some students earn their master’s degree while working in the field of architecture, but many go straight into professional master’s programs. A graduate degree in architecture can make a worker more attractive to employers.

Required Coursework

The first two years of a bachelor’s degree in architecture will focus mainly on general education requirements. In the last two years, students will take courses in design, building technology, architectural history, and architectural theory. Architecture students learn about the ideas behind architecture and also complete hands-on design projects.

Master’s program focus on further preparing students for work in the professional field. In addition to further coursework in design and theory, students will study structural engineering and building science. Students will complete a thesis that may be a written research project or a visual design. To become a licensed architect, students must also complete an internship through the Intern Development Program.

Jobs in Architecture

Someone with a degree in architecture can work as an architect, or they may go into a number of related fields.

Licensed architects design plans for buildings and oversee their construction. They’ll have to work closely with construction companies and have an understanding of building codes. In addition, they may evaluate the safety of current buildings. More experienced architects may take positions managing a project rather than creating the designs themselves.

Someone with a degree in architecture can also work as a civil engineer. Like architects, civil engineers design structures for daily use. In this field, the designs tend to be structures like bridges, airports, tunnels, and water supply systems. Civil engineers may spend years working on a large project.

Working as a landscape architect is an option for someone with a degree in architecture. Landscape architects work on the layout of outdoor spaces, including parks, playgrounds, and universities. They may also work on designing landscapes for homes.

Salary Range

The Bureau of Labor reports that the median salary for an architect in 2010 was $72,550 per year. However, recent graduates entering into the field can expect to make $35,000-40,000. The median salary for a landscape architect, meanwhile, is $64,180. The top 10% of workers in this field make around $100,000 a year. For civil engineers, the median yearly salary is $77,560.

Traits of an Architect

People seeking a degree in architecture need a combination of skills in art and science. To be a successful architect, a person needs to have a talent for design and a sense of creativity. At the same time, they need to be able to apply logic to their ideas so that their creations are practical for real people to use. Architects also need to have some mathematical ability, although the math involved in architecture is not terribly complicated.

The field requires that architects be hard workers, and they need to be skilled in doing intensive research. An attention to small details is essential, but architects need to be able to think of the bigger picture as well.