A career in architecture and design is a rewarding and lucrative career. It comes with a high degree of responsibility and the ability to design homes, commercial buildings, and even themed entertainment projects in places around the world. People interested in pursuing an architect career path or earning a degree in architecture have a variety of options.
Are you interested in learning about architecture and finding out about architect career goals? In this guide, you will learn the keys to an architect’s career development, as well as the outlook for future architects and salaries for various architect jobs. Aspiring architects should read this article to find out if the architect career path is right for them.
Architect Career Prospects: Why Is Architecture a Good Profession?
Architecture is a good profession because it can lead to a lucrative position, and with career advances, architects can get paid even more. For example, according to ZipRecruiter, senior architects in the 90th percentile earn $160,000 per year.
Architecture is also a good profession because architects are generally respected in society. Contemporary architects play a crucial role in our modern society because they are the ones who design the buildings we live in. It’s a good career choice for people seeking positions with high social status.
One downside is that architects don’t have the best work-life balance. Architecture students work long hours in pursuit of their bachelor’s degrees, and the same goes for many professional architects. This job is challenging and can be stressful, and it isn’t for everyone.
Be aware that if you are looking to become an architect, career development depends on being truly committed to your work. This occupation can be demanding, but it can also be rewarding. If you have excellent problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, and attention to detail, then architecture is your field.
Architect Salary and Job Outlook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for architects is $80,180. When it comes to job growth, BLS projects a three percent increase in the number of architect positions from 2020 to 2030. While this is less than the average growth of all occupations, BLS statistics also show that, on average, 9,400 new architectural openings are projected each year.
What Does a Typical Architect Career Path Look Like?
Stage 1: Residential Designer
Many architecture degree holders start their careers as residential designers. A residential designer is someone who designs and plans the interior of apartment buildings and generates ideas for the reconstruction of these spaces to meet the requirements of their clients. Someone in this position is more commonly known as an interior designer.
Residential designers are responsible for determining which materials will be required and how much funds are needed for a residential project. They are very creative with excellent communication skills, sketching abilities, and attention to detail. According to PayScale, a typical salary for residential designers ranges from $25,000 to $75,000.
Stage 2: Architectural Designer
An architectural designer is someone who designs building and landscape patterns. They operate directly under the supervision of licensed architects and communicate with customers to obtain ideas for design and create budgets for their construction projects.
Architectural designers have developed skills in Autodesk Revit and Autodesk AutoCAD. In terms of expertise, an architectural designer is one step behind an architect. According to PayScale, architectural designers can earn from $44,000 to $73,000 annually.
Stage 3: Architect
When an architectural designer gets their ARE license, they become a licensed architect. Architects use their specialized expertise in construction and advanced drawing abilities to design safe, sustainable, and visually appealing structures.
Architects have technical skills in Autodesk Revit, design, and project management. They can work on residential projects like single-family homes, as well as on commercial projects like office buildings, shopping malls, and even churches. According to PayScale, architects can earn from $51,000 to $101,000 annually.
Stage 4: Architectural Project Manager
Architectural project managers supervise all parts of a building project’s design and construction process. They are responsible for generating and approving blueprints and for ensuring that a project follows environmental and zoning laws.
Architectural project managers have skills in project management, client interaction, and project coordination. According to PayScale, project managers in architecture can earn from $53,000 to $114,000 annually.
Stage 5: Director of Construction
The director of construction is a leadership role responsible for assessing the project workforce requirements and ensuring that construction objectives are reached. Directors of construction also review contracts and budgets, as well as arrange subcontractor schedules.
Directors of construction have highly developed skills in project management, budget management, and people management. According to PayScale, directors of construction can earn an annual salary between $78,000 and $162,000.
Architect Career Path: Important Milestones
It is important to develop the right skills that will allow you to advance in your architectural career. There are some important milestones that every architect needs to achieve in order to become successful.
- Build your first project. One of the best things that can happen to young architects is getting their first project accepted. It is a great joy to witness your concept for a building or construction project come to fruition. This will also boost your confidence that you have done a good job.
- Work in a good architecture firm. There are many architecture firms out there. If you work for one of the best architecture companies, you can become a better architect. You can gain better communication skills and analytical skills, and with time and hard work, you may gain a senior role in the company.
- Land your first big client. Landing your first client is like seeing your first project come to life. If you are successful in landing your first big client, you can do it again. By landing a large client, you will have enabled your company to build more long-term construction projects.
- Open your own architecture firm. If you are thinking of opening your own architecture firm, it is crucial to have experience in the technical aspects of architecture as well as in the business side of things. Starting a professional practice of your own is a big milestone because you will be your own boss and run your own company.
- Make your firm profitable. Once you have hands-on experience with managing an architecture firm, it is important to make your firm profitable. Prepare a step-by-step plan and try to achieve your business goals in a set timeline.
Planning Your Architect Career Path
To be successful in any career, people need to have a plan for how to achieve that success. The same goes for the field of architecture. Developing your skills and setting professional goals are just some of the things you need to take into account when planning your career. Let’s see what else there is that can help you plan your architect career path.
Determine Your Professional Goals
One of the best ways to succeed in architecture is to set professional goals. Keep the bigger picture in mind and set your architect career goals based on your interests. For example, if you want a managerial position in the field of architecture, then set goals to achieve that. If you want to become a director of design, then set milestones and micro goals that will help you get there.
Learn Upper-Level Skills
Learning the most relevant skills can enable you to advance your career in architecture. If you want to become a successful architect and excel in an architectural firm, you need to develop essential upper-level skills. For example, engineering managers or construction managers have good business management skills.
As an architect, you may know the design process or have in-depth knowledge of the building operations in a construction project. However, to progress into a senior-level position, you will need to have excellent management and communication skills. Invest some time to develop them.
Find a Mentor
It is always a good idea to find someone whom you can learn from. When working in a firm, it is a good idea to find a mentor who will take you under their wing and guide you. In many cases, mentors are senior architects with experience in the architecture field. They play a critical role because you can gain relevant technical knowledge and skills from them.
Grow Your Practice
Grow your practice by taking on new projects and challenges. The more practice you have, the more experience you have. The more practical experience you have, the better salary you can earn. Almost every job ad for most occupations is asking for relevant experience and specific education requirements. Find projects and certifications that can help you grow.
Decide Where You Want to Be Based
If you are taking care of your finances, it is important to choose a suitable place that offers a good salary for architects. Some states and cities offer better pay while others don’t. So it’s a good idea to do research and pick a city that will suit your needs and lifestyle.
Popular Architect Career Paths
|Career Path||Skills||Average Salary||Job Outlook|
|Civil engineer||Engineering design, Autodesk AutoCAD, project management||$69,476||8%|
|Landscape architect||Autodesk AutoCAD, architectural design, project management||$63,386||0%|
|Industrial designer||Architectural design, product development, SolidWorks||$61,622||6%|
|Interior designer||Autodesk AutoCAD, architectural design, Autodesk Revit Architecture||$52,901||0%|
|Graphic designer||Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign||$47,930||3%|
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Next Steps for Aspiring Architects
An aspiring architect should also keep up to date by reading about the newest innovations in architecture. Communicate and network with other fellow architects. If you plan on opening an architectural studio, you should develop a life plan, business plan, financial strategy, and marketing strategy.
Choosing an architect career path is a good idea, but it is not for everybody. An architect’s salary is higher than average, but the average growth rate is slightly lower than average. So if you are thinking about becoming an architect, you need to keep in mind that you need the proper math, design, and artistic skills to be able to succeed in architecture.
Architect Career Path FAQ
Yes, architecture is a good career for the right person. It is a rewarding career path and it is suitable for creative types. You can make a high annual wage, but this occupation also requires working long hours and getting your hands dirty. If this does not bother you and you have the necessary problem-solving skills, then an architect career path is right for you.
The highest-paid types of architects are commercial architects, architectural technologists, architectural project managers, and preservation architects. All these types of architects can earn a higher average salary than $100,000.
Yes, an architect can be a graphic designer. An architecture major in a bachelor’s degree program learns about the theory of design and uses the same or similar software as graphic designers. Architecture and graphic design overlap because both require creative workers with aesthetic judgment and an understanding of composition.
To start your career as an architect, you first need to know if you qualify for this field. Are you a creative person who likes to draw, has a sense of aesthetics, and has math skills? If so, then you should consider going into architecture.
The next step would be to get a formal education and earn a bachelor’s degree. After that, get into an internship program and consider getting an advanced degree with the help of some Masters of Architecture scholarships. With all of this architectural education in hand, you will have an easier time landing a job as an enterprise architect or senior architect.
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