Architect Salary and Info

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Are you considering becoming an architect? When examining a potential career path, it is important to consider the duties and tasks involved, job outlook, education and training requirements, and salary you can expect to earn. Architects are the geniuses responsible for designing the buildings we use in everyday life to work in, live in, learn in, and enjoy. To help make your decision easier, we have put together a detailed guide to the job itself, including information regarding the demand for architects, key facts about the typical architect salary, and training requirements.

What Is an Architect? 

Overview

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Before analyzing the architect salary, you need to know what an architect is and the typical duties associated with the role. Architects conceptualize and create designs for many buildings, houses, bridges, and similar constructions.

Architects must be educated and licensed professionals, possessing a bachelor’s degree in architecture at a minimum and passing an exam for licensure. The job requires you to work closely with other individuals in related fields, like urban planners, interior designers, engineers, and landscape architects.

Typical Duties

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While the standard architect salary varies based on your employer, location, credentials, and experience, there are typical duties associated with the role you should know of. Architects have plenty of client interaction, whether it be with individuals, businesses, or other types of firms. The job requires you to sit down with the client to discuss their goals and necessary instructions for the building. The architect then provides the client with projected costs and the estimated time it will take to build the structure.

Afterwards, architects design the building according to client needs and structural necessities, supervise employees who will compile the sketches and other documents, and create drawings to scale using computer programs or by making them from scratch. The architect must also put together contracts for the contractors who will build the structure and visit the site of construction to ensure everything is build according to the original design.

The job requires you to network and enhance your portfolio through marketing endeavors and presentations. Architects may work for public or private clients creating indoor and outside areas for individual or consumer enjoyment. When meeting with the client to discuss the goals and plans for the structure, the architect will often give projections as to the environmental effect the building will reap, options for the building site, cost figures, and structural design needs.

Once a plan has been agreed upon with the client, the architect must create final plans before construction starts. These plans must include the physical look and features of the building, sketches of the inner workings like heating and cooling systems, electrical configurations, and plumbing, to name a few key elements.

Architects must adhere to state and local regulations for buildings and zoning, including any other applicable mandates like fire and safety ordinances. You must be technologically savvy in this job as the design elements are often completed using computer programs and advanced software.  

You must also be good at creating hand-drawn sketches, as these are an important part of the initial process of planning the structure and keeping things on track once construction begins. It is important to go to the site of construction regularly to make sure the building is being completed on schedule, according to plans, and meets mandatory requirements for quality and design.

Is There a Need for Architects?

Care​er Outlook

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An important aspect of understanding the architect salary is recognizing whether there is a need for these professionals. As towns, cities, entities, and individuals always require buildings and structures to work, live, and play in, the career of an architect is not going anywhere. The field is prone to slow growth, partly due to the demands of the role itself and the requirements needed to embark on this career path. In the coming years, architect jobs are expected to grow by 4%, which is less rapid when compared to other fields.

However, the demand for qualified, skilled architects continues as communities require the building of offices, homes, stores, and other businesses. University and school districts are often in need of the services of an architect to update and add on to existing structures. More hospitals and clinics need to be designed and built to meet the demands of aging populations and increased awareness regarding health and wellness.

A niche of this field that is seeing increased demand includes architects skilled in environmentally geared design practices. This requires professionals who can create plans using resources wisely, saving on water and energy usage, minimizing waste production, and lowering pollution during construction. This niche also demands architects who can implement structural plans and materials that reap minimal effects on the environment.

As the number of graduates within the field of architecture is growing, the competition for excellent practicums and jobs is steep. While there is usually always a significant demand for architects, the jobs you can expect to secure depend on how active the construction sector is in your region. If there is a reduction in client projects or fewer construction jobs are required, you will notice your schedule opening significantly which can affect your architect salary.

Work Settings

There are key work settings that employ architects. Most professionals work for an architectural, engineering, and design firm. Others go into business for themselves while a select few get jobs working for the government or construction companies.

The role requires you to spend significant periods working in an office, liaising with clients, creating plans and sketches, and working closely with other architect and engineering professionals. Time outside the office is typically spent at construction locations to ensure everything is running according to plan and schedule. The majority of architects work a full-time schedule. It is common to put in extra hours, particularly if you are working on a lengthy project or coming up against a deadline. If you go into business for yourself, you will have more flexibility as it pertains to your schedule.

Necessary Skills

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To earn the optimal architect salary and be a success in the field, there are necessary skills you need to possess. Besides the education and training which we will delve into further down, you need to have some important soft and creative skills under your belt.

You must be adept at critical thinking and analysis to conceptualize and implement the nature and purpose of construction designs. You must be an excellent communicator to engage with clients, colleagues, construction workers, and potential clients. Your designs must also be accompanied by written and oral presentations, so it is important to be a skilled communicator to relay your ideas effectively.

You must have a mind and an eye for creativity to design buildings, houses, businesses, and similar structural works. The buildings you design should be aesthetically appealing without sacrificing their practical purpose. You must be very organized in this role, maintaining many contracts and detailed records of each job simultaneously.

You should be technologically savvy to use the software programs needed to develop a design. The role requires someone to be a visionary who can conceptualize the final product before a building is ever constructed.

Architect Salary, Education, and Certification 

Average Salary

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While the average architect salary varies based on your location, employer, educational credentials, and experience, the median annual earnings for the job are around $77,000 per year. This means that about half of professionals earn a lower architect salary and around half earn above this number.

Even those earning on the lower end of the architect salary spectrum still bring home a solid living wage at around $47,000 per year. Individuals earning above and beyond the median wage may earn as much as $130,000 per annum and beyond. Individuals working for the government and construction firms earn the highest salaries, while those employed by architectural, engineering, and design firms earn less.

Educational Requirements

To get a job in this field and earn an architect salary, you must first obtain your bachelor’s degree in architecture. The majority of budding architects choose a 5-year program to get their degree, with some studying for another 5 years to earn their master’s degree in the field. The time to complete these additional studies depends on your prior educational credentials and training in the field.

A bachelor’s in architecture degree program typically covers classes in building design, computer design and drafting, structures, architectural history and theory, construction practices, professional methods, liberal arts, math and physical science. Most states mandate you earn your degree from one of the architectural schools accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. There are 122 nationwide. You will also need to look at your state’s mandates for licensure, which can be located via the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

Training

To obtain licensure as an architect, you must undergo a paid internship of 3 years or more upon graduation from your degree program. After you complete the internship, you will be eligible to take the Architect Registration Examination. Most internships are completed at architectural firms through specific programs like the Architectural Experience Program.

Depending on the state, you might complete your internship with a firm in a related field, like engineering or general contract work. If you complete an internship while you are still enrolled in your studies, this can be subtracted from the 3-year mandatory training time.

As an intern, you will often assist with the design and implementation of structural projects, creating sketches and documents, constructing models, and using web software to conceptualize drawings. You might also be required to look up building ordinances and record local and state codes to adhere to during the construction process. Once you complete any of these tasks as an intern, you will turn your work over to a licensed architect who will proof, make any necessary changes, and sign off on it.

Certification and Licensure

To begin work and earn an architect salary, you must obtain your license in the field. Before receiving your license, you must complete all the aforementioned requirements, including earning your degree in architecture, undergoing your internship, and successfully completing the Architect Registration Examination.

Once you begin work in the field and receive an architect salary, the learning process is typically far from over. Most states mandate you take continuing education courses to maintain your licensure. You will need to check on your individual state’s requirements, but you can typically take these classes via conferences, university courses, workshops, self-paced courses, and similar resources.

Conclusion

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Choosing to enter the field of architecture is a career move that takes a strong commitment and endurance. There is no easy barrier to entry in this field, and you must complete years of education and training to get your license and earn an excellent architect salary.

Do your research and choose an accredited school to obtain your bachelor’s degree in architecture from. If you wish to increase your earning potential and credentials, consider earning a master’s degree. Once you have completed your internship and passed the licensure exam, you will be well on your way to building your client portfolio and earning the optimal architect salary.

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