Becoming an Architect: The Hard Knock Path
Becoming an architect is no easy task! There’s a multitude of ways that a person can pursue this occupation. The first way is to go through what I call the “School of Hard Knocks”. This includes dedicating time to practice architecture. You work under an architect for 8 years. After which an architect will be able to sign you off to take the professional licensing exam. Without formal training, it’s not guaranteed that you’re capable of passing the exams.
Tips for College Graduates
The second path to becoming an architect is to earn a degree from an accredited institution. This will prepare you to start taking the exams shortly after graduation. If you would like to pass the exam within the first year of your graduation. You must wait three years to become a licensed architect. After three years you will have completed the internship requirements.
In regards to a professional degree, there are different ways to achieve this:
- Choose from either a five-year degree, or
- Pursue a four year Bachelor of Arts plus a Master’s degree.
The second option would amount to about seven years of education. Each method will help you qualify for your professional licensing exam. Once you pass the professional licensing exam, you are then required to stake. This is mandatory at least in the state of California. A stake is a section which covers the California requirements. After that, you are a licensed architect that can practice architecture.
Architecture is a Labor of Love
The profession of architecture is very demanding. I often joke that with the amount of education that I have right now, I could be an MD. So, it’s a labor of love. You have to love the profession. No matter what you do in life, you will need to commit. It doesn’t matter whether you want to be a photographer or if you want to be a pilot. Maybe you dream of becoming an architect, a CPA or a doctor. You need preparation. It’s important that you understand that the career of an architect entails a life of learning. You’re always learning. Even after becoming an architect, the profession will always be evolving. So, that’s the most important thing to consider before becoming an architect.
How to Survive the Economy as an Architect
The United States economy plays a major role in job opportunities in architecture. Depending on how good the economy is doing, it’s feast or famine. When I graduated from the University of Washington the country was in a recession. I remember there was a sign outside of the city of Seattle. The sign said, “Will the last person leaving SEATTLE – Turn out the lights.” True story. Check it out! The billboard was near Tacoma and everybody was leaving the state in droves. This was due to the lack of work.
After becoming an architect, I ended up leaving the state and headed south to California where there was a lot of work at the time. And it took a good decade and a half for the state of Washington to recover. Once Microsoft and other computer companies moved in, the economy began to thrive. But for me, it was too late to go back. So I stayed in the state of California. But, I’m giving you an example that influenced my career. Different regions of the United States all have different economies. These differences can play a huge role in the work-force.
Moreover, you should keep in mind the line of work you want to be in. As well as the style of architecture you want to focus on, and what you want to design. After graduating and becoming an architect these were the biggest factors that caught me off guard.