The highest-paid architect in New York and California can earn almost 100.000 $. You might ask what exactly do they do for that money? Keep reading to find out more about architect job and architecture opportunities.
People live in certain spaces, houses or collective buildings; they work and hang out in public areas. Hospitals and State administrations also need a place to operate and develop. Architects are initial workers on all of these objects. Their services improve lifestyle, and architecture is not only about appearance.
An architect is a professional who works on various projects including planning, designing and constructing objects for different purposes.
Before we move on to the more detailed description of architects' work, let's talk about what it takes to become an architect.
Architect - How to Become One?
If you are still exploring potential professions and architecture interests you, you should focus on science and math. Architecture requires multidisciplinary knowledge including science, math, and creativity in designing and modeling.
Additionally, modern architects work with specific computer programs to design structures. Therefore, having flawless sketches is just the first step. You should practice working in CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and BIM (Building Information Modeling).
Luckily, you can learn all the necessary skills when you get an Architecture Bachelor’s degree. Many universities have specialized departments for architecture, but after you finish your studies you have to pass the Architecture Registration Exam. National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) develops this exam, and also provides useful materials and internships for freshly graduated architects.
However, to be a top-notch architect you should invest in informal education as well. Try to learn as much as you can outside official literature. Read biographies of successful architects, find out more about amazing architecture projects, but also failures.
Try to focus on current architecture trends and future endeavors such as green architecture. There are so many specialized courses in architecture you can take online to learn more and become an expert. With more knowledge, there are more things you can do as an architect.
To make sure you know what you are dealing with, make sure to check the video with the potential drawbacks of architecture studies:
The NCARB Key Terms About Architecture
The NCARB defines architects as "licensed professionals". The same definition focuses on science, art, economy, safety, functionality, and appearance. These terms are vital to understanding architecture's work.
In simple words - architects design functional and safe objects following economic guidelines, looking attractive and based on scientific knowledge. These objects are buildings for collective housing, private houses, hotels, museums, military objects, bridges, public stadiums, but also parks, green fields, and other things that contribute to the people's welfare.
Architecture Work Phases
If you analyze each architecture project, you will notice three phases. Those are design, documentation, and construction. In other words, plan, fill the paper and execute.
However, it isn't as easy as it seems.
The design phase is an initial phase. In this phase, a client meets with an architect and explains the idea. Then, the architect plan how to bring the clients idea to reality. The architect must be creative, but also know much about structure, constructions and other technical knowledge.
In addition to technical knowledge, the architect must include safety regulations, law, and local planning regulations and restrictions. For example, there is a height restriction in Paris, and buildings mustn't be taller than 164 feet. There are also restrictions in historic city parts, and an architect must design the object following all the rules.
This phase also includes regular meetings and keeping the client up to date. An architect doesn't work alone. He consults with engineers, other designers, but also financiers. Each project starts with a predefined budget, and an architect must fit into the financial terms as well.
Revisions, and smaller or bigger corrections are an integral part of the phase. Lastly, the architect must follow the defined deadlines for each phase.
During the second phase, an architect strives to put everything on the paper. It includes more detailed design and work in specific software such as CAD, to learn if the design is feasible. This phase, as well as the initial phase, includes revisions, redrawing and changes to meet the client's demands and regulations.
After the architect completes the design, there is the next step of documents.
Those are constructing documents. These documents are detailed instructions about executing operations while building the object. It is a highly important and demanding step because it transforms the design on paper into a real, physical object. There is information for contractors and construction experts.
During the construction phase, the architect should visit the site often, deal with arizing problems and negotiate with contractors. It is a common misconception that in this phase architects work is done. Architect monitors different things and signs of phases.
Architects Daily Duties
The daily activities of an architect depend on their company and job responsibilities. It also depends on whether the architect work in small (<9 employers) or a larger company.
There are architects specialized in different stages of projects, so look at a few of the most common jobs and find the match for you. Let's start with an architecture intern.
You can watch the video to check an average day in architecture life:
The video includes designing set of elevations, writing specifications, office work and much more.
Before you think of applying for a position within any company, you could use two, three or more years as an intern. Interns in larger companies sometimes don't get a chance to work with top-notch designing teams and much of the work they do is drafting on a computer. Still, it is a valuable experience, because you will get a chance to observe the daily duties of other architects, and sometimes take part in the designing process.
Others will follow senior colleagues and take mentorship to get more practical skills. Anyway, choosing an internship is just as important as choosing your job.
Smaller or Midsize Company - Job Position: Architect
Smaller companies rarely get big projects such as sky-scrapers and other large public objects. The reason behind it is simple - they don't have enough capacities.
On the other hand, working in a smaller or mid-size firm has its perks. Architects in these firms are involved in every stage of the project, including design, documentation, and construction. It can be an excellent starting position to grow your skills and experience.
An architect in the mid-size firm is a dynamic position because it has to meet with clients, negotiate, design, oversee junior designers, prepare documentation and monitor constructions.
Large Company - Job Position: Designing Architect
Large companies have designing teams that work together on the initial phase of the project. The members of the designing team sketch and create computer-generated images for clients.
However, they are also in charge of following the deadlines and making the presentation for customers. There are senior architects in the team that make initial sketches using pen and paper, and junior architects that work in specialized computer programs.
If you get a designing architect position within a large company, you have to utilize your creativity and teamwork. Because of the nature of the job, this position is more likely in larger cities and companies.
The salary is great, and the competition is fierce. A designing architect job is dynamic, creative and requires lots of inspiration and love for what you do. Sometimes, you will have to meet unreal deadlines and work hard to fulfill the client's needs.
The drawback of this position is that you won't participate in other phases of the project. There are teams for the next phase as well.
Large Firm - Job Position: Production Architects
Large companies have teams for making buildings documents - blueprints. Sometimes, interns get a chance to work on the blueprints production. These production teams work on the second phase of the architecture projects - so-called documentation phase.
Younger architects modify and correct building plans in CAD or BIM. Sometimes, the job of a production architect includes repetitive activities and doing the same thing many times - sketching the same pieces.
While working, production architects learn more about the construction process in detail. They get a chance to understand how things are connected and how to build an object from scratch.
A job of the production architect isn't as creative as the job of the designing architect. It is more for people who like punctuality, precision, technical data and working on details.
Large Firm - Job Position: Principal
Principals in large architecture firms have the highest salaries and widest experience, usually 20+ years of working in the industry. They work with clients; seal new contracts because of their connections and oversee the designing and documentation process.
To get to a principal position and a six-figure salary, you will have to work hard in designing, documenting and constructing.
If you dream of having an architecture firm, you should know that it is a demanding role. You will have to work long hours, participate in every phase of the project, even every task until you build a reliable team.
The salary is great after the firm gets established, but you have to have tough nerves and deep motivation. If you take on that pathway, be patient and you can reach the phase where you will be able to pick your projects and do what you really love.
More Questions About Architecture
Deciding whether to take a path in architecture, requires a deeper analysis of other factors. Those are salaries, common workplaces, employment opportunities, etc.
Architects do a lot of work. They design the world we live in; they construct it, from houses, buildings, schools, hospitals, business spaces, churches, parks, etc.
Daily activities of architects are working in a team or individually, to create and make sketches of objects. Next, architects make constructing documents, specific instructions for contractors. Lastly, the architect monitors construction and makes additional changes, resolve issues and improve appearance and functionality.
Architect utilizes their imagination and creativity, but must follow safety regulations and national standards. These experts can work in large, small and mid-size companies that define their daily activities. While in smaller companies architects are involved in each project phase, in large companies, there are specialized teams for each phase.
Does it seem like a right job for you? How important do you think architecture job is? Tell us in the comments.
In the meantime, learn why architecture field is never a dead-end, meaning you can always change your mind and focus on different working fields: