How Long Does It Take to Become an Architect?

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Architects work with designers, engineers and technicians.
Architects work with designers, engineers and technicians. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Architects directly affect how the world looks. Architects design buildings, alter existing properties and restore old buildings. They work on residential, business, religious and community buildings. Architects are involved with projects from the very beginning – developing ideas based on the client’s brief, preparing design proposals and conducting surveys – through to the projects' completion – the physical construction or alteration of the building. Becoming an architect involves a minimum of five years' education after high school and an internship.

High School

The better the high school grade average, the better the candidate’s chance of going to the college of her choice. A good all-round performance is required, but English, mathematics, statistics and design are particularly relevant subjects.

College

Most states require architects hold, as a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in architecture before states grant a license to practice. Bachelor’s degree programs in architecture usually last five years and involve instruction in subjects such as architectural theory and methodology, environmental design, and drafting with both traditional tools and computer-aided design. Ideally, candidates should attend a school accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. Many state licensing boards require a candidate to have attended an approved program. Candidates should check with their state licensing board before applying to college.

Internship

During a training period, a candidate receives professional instruction in design, documentation and methodology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these periods typically last three years and are administered through the Intern Development Program of The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

License

Specific licensing requirements vary between states, but most demand that a candidate has passed an approved training program, completed an internship, and passed The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards' Architect Registration Examination. This is a written examination comprising nine sections of multiple choice and graphical questions.

Further Study

Candidates may wish further study at some point in their career. They can study for a master’s degree in architecture. An individual may then wish to go on to study for a doctoral degree, conducting a research project on a specific area of architectural theory or methodology.

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