Seeing an idea come to life is an exhilarating experience enjoyed by few. Among them are the architects. Architects are frequently seen as artists with the ground as their canvas. This is why those who aspire to pursue a bachelor of architecture often worry about their drawing skills.
In truth, there’s more to architecture than creativity. And there’s more to an architect’s designs than meets the eye. While aesthetics is a critical aspect of an architect’s work, form and functionality are just as important.
Architects create art that is built to last while reimagining the space we live in. To that end, they are visionaries. If you have what it takes to become an architect but don’t know where to start, below is a guide you can use to begin your journey by enrolling in a bachelor of architecture program.
What Is an Architecture Major?
Mastering the full spectrum of architecture takes years. To be versatile architects, students approach the field through the integration of theory and practice. This means learning the history and theories embedded in the field while getting hands-on experience in design and drafting.
As with most careers, earning a degree in architecture is the first step to becoming an architect. This may be earned in one of two ways. The first option is a five-year professional degree, bachelor of architecture, otherwise known as B.Arch. The second option is through a bachelor of science, bachelor of arts, or fine arts program in architecture. These typically last four years.
Although the latter may seem like the better option, the former earns its edge in credibility, overall duration, and cost. What does this mean? A majority of state licensing boards in the United States only acknowledge architecture degrees acquired from schools accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB).
This is important because NAAB-accredited degree holders qualify for the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), the professional licensure exam for architects. This is where a bachelor of architecture degree gains its advantage as this program is already NAAB-accredited. With the four-year degrees, you would also need a NAAB-accredited Master’s Degree in Architecture to qualify for the exam.
A Day in the Life of Architecture Majors
A typical day in the life of architecture majors consists of studying the conventions of art and math. To create great designs, an architect must possess the perfect blend of artistic sensibility and math proficiency. The scope of the field is what makes architecture an interdisciplinary field.
- Art: This is perhaps the most obvious component of a bachelor of architecture program. Since architecture majors will be designing for clients, they must be able to communicate their ideas properly. The easiest way to do so is through visual presentations. Architecture majors learn how to create 3D designs both by hand and computer programs.
- Math: Competency in math plays a significant part in architecture studies. Architecture majors study how to play around with units of measurement. An example would be converting metric square to a hectare, and so on.
They’re also taught how to draw to scale. As mentioned earlier, architecture is not just about designing pretty structures. A design, no matter how pleasing to the eye, is useless if it can’t stand up. For a design to be buildable, its proportions and dimensions must have the right measurements.
Top Colleges for a Bachelor in Architecture
Earning a NAAB-accredited degree in architecture is crucial to advancing your career. To help narrow down your search, we’ve listed the top colleges below that offer NAAB-accredited bachelor of architecture programs.
Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University’s bachelor of architecture program exposes students to the core concepts of architecture. Architecture majors in this university spend the first three years learning the principles of design and architectural analysis. After this, they spend their last two years delving deeper into the historical and contemporary elements of architecture.
What makes Cornell University’s program unique is that it allows students to choose from five different concentrations. These include architecture, culture, and society; architectural science and technology; the history of architecture; theory of architecture, and visual representation in architecture.
University of Texas at Austin
UT’s bachelor of architecture program falls under its School of Architecture and involves 161 hours of coursework. The program is heavily grounded on design and the use of technology in architectural practice. Its curriculum can be divided into eight categories. These include design, visual communication, professional practice, and construction.
To qualify for admission, applicants must show an aptitude in learning design. Applicants are evaluated for their SAT or ACT scores and academic achievements, among others. Priority is also given to Texas residents.
California Polytechnique State University
Cal Poly’s bachelor of architecture program is offered through the university’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design. It features a rigorous focus on the fundamentals of architecture, including architectural technology, systems integration, and architectural theory.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
During the first year of Virginia Tech’s bachelor of architecture program, students focus on building their knowledge of design. This includes practicing how to create 2D and 3D designs using a variety of tools.
The second and third year will constitute how natural and cultural forces influence architecture. This is also when students are exposed to the demands of design and construction.
For the fourth year, students are allowed to hone their skills off-campus, including participation in Europe-based programs. Finally, architecture majors spend their fifth year working on independent studies that demonstrate their mastery of the field.
This New York-based research university exposes bachelor of architecture majors to architectural design, theory, history, and practice. Interested applicants are required to submit a portfolio to be reviewed by the university’s School of Architecture.
Majors of the program can also apply for off-campus study in Florence, New York, and London. Of course, they would need to demonstrate a good academic standing to the tune of at least a 2.5 CGPA.
Career Outlook for Licensed Architects
After completing a bachelor of architecture program, architecture graduates must fulfill two more requirements. The first one is a paid internship, generally lasting three years. After this, they are required to sit and pass the Architect Registration Examination. Only then can they enter the workforce as licensed architects.
Just as how a doctor can choose from different specializations, so does a licensed architect. Below are some of the career paths you can pursue in the field of architecture.
Landscape architects design outdoor areas. Since their work is focused on reimagining the outdoor space, their designs must take into account both natural and social elements. This means creating a sustainable interplay between the environment and the communities around it. Landscape architects earn close to $70,000 per year, on average.
As the name states, urban planners develop plans for the use of urban land. They are predominantly concerned with creating a sustainable place to live in for urban dwellers. As such, urban planners must keep pace with the changing needs of the urban population. For instance, they must be able to accommodate the growing population. Urban planners earn a median salary of over $45,000 on the low end and $116,000 on the high end.
Architectural drafters convert the designs of architects to technical plans through the use of computer-aided design (CAD) software. These technical drawings identify which materials are needed for the project and the structural features of the design. Aspiring drafters only need to secure an associate degree to qualify for the job. As of last year, the median annual wage for drafters stood at $56,000.
Should You Become an Architect?
The primary mandate of architecture is to create structures that have aesthetic and functional value. This means that if you aspire to be an architect, your eyes must be trained in perceiving art and the needs of the community.
To this end, being an architect is a rewarding career. If you’re interested in creating art that benefits communities at scale, then a career in architecture may be your best bet.