The creative blend of art and science, the overlay of environmental awareness and technology: it makes for a fascinating and influential career path. We invite you to explore the many possibilities for growth in a range of professions, from licensed architect to a historic preservationist.

Careers for architecture majors
Profession Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) Median Annual Income in U.S. 2015 More Information
Architect +7% $76,100 Learn more.
Building Assessor +8% $51,900 Learn more.
Building Inspector +8% $57,300 Learn more.
Construction Manager +5% $87,400 Learn more.
Drafter -3% $50,700 Learn more.
Environmental Designer +12% $84,600 Learn more.
Industrial Designer +2% $67,100 Learn more.
Surveyor -2% $77,200 Learn more.
Urban or Regional Planner +6% $85,400 Learn more.
Architecture

Architects design buildings and the spaces around them that people use and enjoy. They creatively combine design skills with technical knowledge to achieve sustainable, accommodating, safe, beautiful, and economically beneficial built environments where people work and dwell. Through effective and collaborative processes, architects develop projects that promote stability for the long term while ensuring changeability in response to new social and technological realities. 

Professionals in this field are concerned with social issues, societal well-being, and the human condition while also preserving and respecting the natural environment. Architecture can protect groups or individuals, influence or reflect society, impart character or emotion, and represent values, priorities, or ideals.

Architects are involved with many kinds of organizations and in a broad spectrum of activities across a range of scales, from furniture and interior spaces to buildings and urban design. Projects may involve new construction or the adaptation of an old building for a new use.

Many architects specialize in areas such as medical or educational facilities, historic preservation, retail, or high-rise design. Some firms are involved in real estate development and construction, or a more recent form of practice known as design/build.

A traditional architectural practice provides a full range of services for the planning, design, and administration of construction projects. The architect must be a mission-directed decision maker and a communicator who uses programs, concepts, and images to link the user, client, or public with the builders, contractors, and other construction trades people.

Some architects specialize within offices as project managers, marketing experts, specification writers, or designers. Computer-aided design (CAD) skills are very much in demand. Architects rely on available media and technology and on the ability to synthesize from a variety of disciplines, including planning, business and economics, landscape architecture, historic preservation, interior design, natural sciences, engineering, physics, and chemistry.

Concern for a sustainable environment is continually forging new linkages that encourage architects to take on leadership roles in multidisciplinary teams.

About two-thirds of the licensed architects in the United States are in private practice. Others are employed by corporations, institutions, government agencies, colleges and universities, and other organizations. Some pursue teaching or research careers.

Not only does an architectural education lead to work as a licensed architect, it also provides a good background to enter fields such as architectural journalism; real estate development; graphic, interior, or industrial design; engineering; or construction. Some architecture graduates get involved in television and theater or work with architectural product and material manufacturers.

Becoming a licensed architect requires three primary steps:

  1. Obtain a First Professional Degree

    Earn a degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Most states require aspiring architects to hold an accredited degree.

  2. Complete an Internship

    The training period typically lasts three years. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) established the Intern Development Program, which standardizes intern training.

  3. Pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE)

    Administered by the NCARB, this four-day exam covers site, building, and structural design, building systems, materials, and practice-related issues. Interns who pass the ARE become licensed as professionals in building design to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.

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Note

AIA membership requires a program of continuing education.

Environmental design practitioners evaluate and manage land and resources for residential, commercial, institutional, and recreational purposes. They understand of how transportation systems, industry, public facilities, and cultural and recreational sites mesh together to serve populations, protect the environment, and support economic trends. They have the versatility to succeed in a variety of fields, including urban planning, community design, environmental affairs, real estate, law, local government, and not-for-profit organizations.

Historic preservation is a pervasive, enduring national movement driven by the public’s fascination with the past in the form of old buildings, neighborhoods, Main Streets, and landscapes. Rather than focusing on preserving houses or villages as museums, the modern preservation profession emphasizes adapting old buildings to new uses.

There’s more to the historic built environment than the “plus factor”—features people admire, such as high ceilings, elaborate or simple woodwork, decorative tile, and fireplaces that are works of art in themselves. Beyond this aesthetic is an emotional attraction. Living in an old house or working in an old building provides a sense of heritage and connects individuals to the past.

The nation’s interest in historic preservation is growing, and today it is a living, breathing, and functional way of life. Historic preservation professional skills are needed by communities across the country that want to preserve their built heritage for future generations.

Preservation professionals take a wide variety of positions in the public and private sectors. Many find employment in state historic preservation offices, consulting firms, local preservation commissions, state historic sites, and nonprofit preservation groups such as the Indiana Landmarks, the nation’s largest nonprofit, private statewide preservation organization. Others work for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service. With the growing interest in historic preservation, job opportunities in this field are abundant. Students typically land entry-level positions within four months of graduation.

Professionals in this field deal with the complex challenges of rejuvenating the historic core districts of cities, maintaining a sense of identity in small towns, revitalizing neighborhoods, preserving rural areas, and restoring historic landmarks and landscapes.

This diverse discipline focuses on preserving a variety of historic places where people live and work, including:

  • houses and schools
  • commercial buildings
  • religious structures
  • industrial structures
  • Main Streets
  • neighborhoods
  • designed landscapes
  • rural country sides

Historic preservationists try to find ways to preserve historic features of an old building while making changes needed for new life.

  • The effort to adapt old buildings to new uses sometimes requires careful
    research into uses for which a demand exists, as well as a search for grants, tax credits, and loans.
  • Preservation professionals also assess what’s wrong with old buildings and
    make sensitive yet fiscally sound recommendations for repair and rehabilitation.
  • Often they help building owners obtain historic preservation tax credits and
    apply for buildings and districts to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Some preservation professionals participate in a protective environmental
    review of federal projects and their effect on historic properties.
  • Others help communities protect historic districts and landmarks through
    preservation ordinances or assist local preservationists in developing strategies for saving endangered landmarks.
  • Work in this field includes producing drawings, assessments, plans, and
    documents; conducting paint and mortar analysis; and communicating effectively with clients and organizations.

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