How Do I Become An Architect?

It's not easy, but worth it!

The path to becoming an architect isn’t easy—it’s long and hard, but totally worth it. Simply put, you’ll need academic training, working experience, and a pass grade on the licensing exam.

You have options: you can either get a 5-year Bachelor’s of Architecture degree or do a 4-year Bachelor’s degree plus a 2-year Master of Architecture program. After graduation, candidates for architectural licenses must work under the supervision of licensed architects for at least three years. Then it’s mandatory to go through one or more exams (there are different requirements in each state) in order to obtain a license to practice. 

TIP:  Architecture is so much more than drawing pretty buildings. So don’t let a lack of confidence in your drawing skills hold you back.

Think about it.

But first and foremost, take stock of yourself.  Do you have the traits and temperament to be a good architect—and are you interested in how buildings are made?  Ask yourself:

  • Are you a creative problem solver?
  • Do you have an artistic flair?
  • Do you have a “feel” for spaces?
  • Do you “get” math?
  • Can you visualize concepts and translate them to drawings and models?
  • Is your natural inclination to be attentive to people’s needs?
  • Do you enjoy collaborating?
  • Do you have an interest in how things are constructed and how they go together physically?
  • And oh yeah, did you like to play with Legos and take high school shop classes?

If so, you may want to investigate the profession more closely. Go to a design-oriented high school, or one that offers classes or afterschool programs in the field. Follow a well-rounded curriculum…arts and humanities, math and science, physics if you can. 

Read books and magazines, surf the web, and look for whatever you can get your hands on about architecture…great architects over time, how architects solve problems, developments in the field. Start to think like an architect. How do people live in or use a space? Are the solutions practical and beautiful? Is there a better, more convenient layout? One that saves space or energy? Keep a notebook, make sketches and critiques and observations of buildings—any buildings—you see. There’s always something to learn.

Try a mentorship program or a summer internship at an architectural firm. Be creative, and see if the field is really for you.

Check out the ACE Mentorship Program. It’s a national program dedicated to mentoring high school students interested in careers in design and construction. Via volunteer mentors, ACE gives students plenty of real-world insights and opportunities and supports them through scholarships and grants in pursuit of a career in the field. Kind of a dream come true for interested high schoolers.

Another valuable path is a summer architectural program for high school students—many universities have them. lists these summer programs. 


Check out the local AIA

Girls may want to check with the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects to see if special informational or mentorship programs are available just for them.

Resources are available

Students of color may want to read this article by Curbed about the resources and scholarships available to those interested in architecture.
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