how to become an architect

The profession of an architect is one of the most popular occupations in the United States. Once you complete your degrees, you have many options as to what path to take in terms of your career. Likely you will begin your professional journey by working for an architecture design firm as a junior designer or even an assistant designer. But as you get more familiar with the industry and get more experience, you will be able to branch out into either different type of architecture or even open your own business. Opening one’s business is the goal of many, and this opportunity to work for oneself is what makes the career of an architect so popular; not to mention that it’s a perfect job for the creative type who wants to design beautiful buildings.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics[1], the job outlook is positive. The demand for architects is projected to increase by 4% by the year 2026. These figures do not take into account the landscape and naval architects.

The demand has been rising for the so-called “green” architects that can design a building for maximum efficiency, using green energy and recycled materials. As well as reduce water pollution and waste.

We see another growing demand for architects that specialize in renovating or building healthcare facilities. The baby boomer population is aging, and there is an increased need for up to date, modern healthcare facilities.

In talking about the architect’s career path, especially about one opening their own firm, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the biggest dangers to a successful business. Mistakes happen because we are human, but they can come with extreme consequences if a mistake causes damages or even claims lives. For example, an architect is often responsible making the necessary calculations as to which width support beams are needed to carry out the design. If these calculations are off and the mistake is not caught until the beams have been installed the client will suffer financial costs in having the contractor tear down the built structure and redo everything to the new spec. Depending on the scale of the project, the costs can be staggering. What is often the next step for the client? That’s right… a lawsuit!

Professional Liability insurance for architects is a vital tool for any architect to protect themselves from the financial fallout of such a mistake. The insurance policy will cover the costs to defend the lawsuit and any settlements or awards against the insured.

So what are the different specializations an architect can choose?

Below are the six primary architect types:

Landscape Architect

A Landscape Architect is one who works with outdoor spaces, transforming them into places of beauty and function, depending on what the client needs and what the intended functionality is. Landscape architecture concerns itself with working on spaces such as gardens, parks, campuses, backyards, rooftop gardens, etc. In short, if you need to design any kind of outdoor space, you should call a landscape architect. The architect will make a plan on how to best integrate buildings (for example school campus) into the outdoor space, decide on materials for walkways, choose plants that fit the soil, the climate and final intent of the space best.

Green Design Architect

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, this type of architect is very sought after. More and more companies are committing to building eco-friendly sites.

A green design architect is responsible for making energy-efficient designs that reduce waste and pollution and use renewable energy and natural resources. A successful green design architect constantly learns new ways to reduce our waste footprint and suggests innovative methods of making a minimal impact on our environment.

Residential Architect

In the era of cookie-cutter homes, a residential architect is still in demand amongst those that want a unique home or need to renovate their historic home but want to keep its unique character.

A residential architect works hard to design the layouts, estimate materials cost, and time needed for construction. They create blueprints which they review with clients and make any adjustments needed.

Industrial Architect

An industrial architect works hard on planning and designing such projects as transportation infrastructures like dams, bridges tunnels, etc., power plants and other manufacturing centers and more.

During the planning and designing process, many factors need to be considered. One of these factors is the economic return on investment, cost of materials, and labor. Another factor is considering special requirements the project might have. For example, a lab may need thick walls, or an airport will need acoustics adjustment, so the roar of the plane engines does not drown out the public announcement system.

Commercial Architect

As the name implies, commercial architects work on commercial projects such as shopping malls, office building, retail stores, etc. They are responsible for incorporating functional design with beautiful aesthetics that will attract customers and the general public. To be a successful commercial architect, one needs to possess not only artistic skills but also to understand the engineering and construction basics to create a sounds design that is not only beautiful but is also efficient. Being well versed in such topics as safety regulations, building and construction codes and costs is a must as without this knowledge; no design will have any chance to be brought to life.

Interior Designer

An interior designer mostly concerns herself with the pleasing aesthetics of a design solution, its’ functionality, and the ability to accomplish the end goal of the client. For example, a design for a family with young kids will be completely different than a design for a bachelor wanting to entertain guests and throw parties. Different goals of the space dictate the choice of different fabrics, pieces of furniture, layout, etc.

  1. ( (2019). Architects : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jun. 2019].


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