A bachelor’s degree in architecture is usually the minimum education needed for licensure and job entry. However, many architects complete a master’s degree in architecture.
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In order to become an architect, you will need to earn a professional degree in architecture from an accredited institution and complete a period of supervised work experience. While you are completing your academic requirements, you should also begin working on passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). Once you have met all of these requirements, you will be eligible for licensure in your state.
The Path to Becoming an Architect
A four-year accredited professional degree in architecture is typically the first step on the path to becoming an architect. However, many students complete a five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree. After completing a professional degree in architecture, licensure is required in all states. The licensure process includes passing the Architect Registration Examination.
In order to become an architect, you will need to complete a professional degree in architecture, which typically takes five years. Many architects also choose to pursue a post-graduate degree, such as a Master of Architecture (M.Arch.), which can take an additional two to three years.
In the United States, licensure for architects is administered by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). In order to be licensed, you will need to complete an accredited professional degree program and fulfill a number of other requirements, such as passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).
There are also a number of voluntary certification programs available for architects, such as the LEED Professional Accreditation for sustainable design. These certifications can demonstrate your expertise and commitment to specific areas of practice and can help you stand out in the job market.
Architecture school is just one step on the path to becoming a licensed architect. The first real-world experience an aspiring architect gains usually comes in the form of an internship.
Most internships are undertaken between the third and fourth year of university, although some students may start as early as their second year, and others may wait until after they graduate. The length of an internship can also vary, but most last between four and eight months.
The main purpose of an internship is to give students a taste of what it’s like to work in the profession, and to allow them to put into practice the skills they’ve learned in the classroom. Interns generally work alongside licensed architects, and may be involved in tasks such as conducting research, preparing drawings, or even working on construction sites.
In order to become a licensed architect, interns must complete a period of practical training known as the Internship in Architecture Program (IAP). The IAP has two parts: the Structured Training Program (STP) and the Practical Experience Logbook (PEL).
The STP is a structured training program undertaken over a minimum period of 12 months full-time equivalent. It must include at least three core modules: Building Science and Environmental Systems; Professional Practice; and Project Management.
The PEL is a logbook that records an intern’s progress as they complete various projects during their internship. It consists of two parts: Part 1 must be completed during the internship, while Part 2 can be completed either during or after the internship period.
After completing their education and training, architects must pass two exams to become licensed. The first is the Architect Registration Examination, which covers six topics and is administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. The second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Architecture, is administered by the American Institute of Architects and covers state-specific regulations governing the profession.
What Kind of Education Do You Need to Be an Architect?
The education you need to be an architect varies depending on the country you want to practice in. Generally, you need a professional degree in architecture from an accredited school of architecture. In the United States, you must complete a five-year accredited professional bachelor of architecture degree program.
Bachelor of Architecture
The most common path to becoming an architect is to earn a professional degree in architecture, such as a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.), from an accredited school of architecture. Most state registration boards require that candidates for licensure have completed a degree from an accredited program. According to the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which accredits bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the U.S., there are currently 115 accredited professional degree programs in the country.
In order to be admitted to most professional degree programs, you will need to complete a pre-professional undergraduate degree in architecture, which typically takes four years to complete. Alternatively, some schools offer a “direct track” five-year program, which allows you to bypass the pre-professional undergraduate degree and go straight into the professional graduate degree program. After completing a five-year Professional Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) program, you will be eligible to take the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®), which is required for licensure in all states.
Master of Architecture
A Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degree is the most common type of degree obtained by students wishing to become licensed architects in the United States. This professional degree can be earned from one of many accredited architecture schools across the country and typically takes three to four years to complete. Although it is not required, many students choose to complete a pre-professional undergraduate degree in architecture before beginning their studies at the graduate level.
While there is no single educational path to becoming an architect, most states require licensure in order to practice. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the professional accrediting body for architectural programs in the United States, requires a professional degree from an accredited program before students can sit for the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®).
There are several different types of accredited degrees that can satisfy the NAAB’s requirements, including the Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) and the Master of Architecture (M.Arch.). Many schools also offer combined Bachelor’s/Master’s programs that can be completed in five or six years. Some experienced practitioners may also choose to pursue a Doctor of Architecture (D.Arch.) degree.
No matter which type of degree you pursue, make sure that your program is accredited by the NAAB. Once you have completed your education and satisfied all licensure requirements, you will be ready to begin your career as an architect!