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So you want to be an Architect?

What is an Architect?

An architect is someone who loves to design and is specifically trained and licensed to work on the planning and design of buildings in which people live, work, play and learn.

The role of an architect is varied. It involves bringing together the creative ideas and visions of the client and keeping in mind the needs of those who will be using the new space. These are professionals who lead the process of creating functional spaces, from concept and design to overseeing the construction of those designs. An architect is not just involved in the design of a building. As licensed professionals, they are also responsible for public safety and overseeing of projects. Their role is important in every stage of the building’s construction, from the initial concept to the opening ceremony when the building is complete.

Their responsibilities require specific skills – designing, engineering, managing, supervising
and communicating with clients and builders. Architects spend a great deal of time explaining their ideas to clients, construction contractors and others. Successful architects must have a thorough knowledge of the construct of a building, and be able to design and communicate their unique vision effectively.

How do you become an Architect?

All states require individuals to be licensed (registered) before they can call themselves an architect and be able to contract to provide architectural services. There are three components to licensure: education, experience and examination.

Architects must hold a professional degree in architecture from one of the 120 schools of architecture that have degree programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Most programs are master’s degree level and take five to six years to complete.

Licensure candidates must also gain experience under the supervision of a practicing architect who takes legal responsibility for all work. Once you graduate high school, you can start earning real-world experience through the Architectural Experience Program (AXP) which is a comprehensive training program created to ensure you gain the knowledge and skills required for the independent practice of architecture.

By passing the Architectural Registration Examination (ARE), you’ll demonstrate proficiency in the skills needed to practice architecture. The ARE is broken into six divisions organized around the progression of a typical architecture project.

After receiving a license, all architects must complete a required amount of continuing education throughout their career in order to maintain their license. The number of hours a year depends on the state in which you are licensed.

How do You Prepare in high school to be an architect?

While still in high school, you should plan a strong college preparatory program of courses in English, history, and other humanities subjects such as social studies, psychology, theater and communications/public speaking, which will sharpen your communication skills and your ability to put things into context. Courses in science, mathematics, including geometry, trigonometry, algebra, pre-calculus and physics, will help develop problem-solving techniques.

Art courses — drawing, painting, sculpture, or photography — will be helpful in developing your ability to visualize, conceptualize and think creatively, which are important skills to an architect. Drafting is less important than being able to communicate ideas through visuals.

Courses in computers, 3D modeling and business will be extremely helpful in preparing for a career in architecture.

Develop positive skills to use your entire life. Learn how to manage your time and get your projects done well and promptly. Project management is a huge responsibility in the architect’s office.

A well-rounded education is essential for success as an architect, and it is just another emphasis that every course is important.

Opportunities to learn more:

Cookie Construction: AIA Kansas City has partnered with the Girls Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri to bring Cookie Construction to Kansas City! The program invites female professionals in the design industry to participate in an opportunity to help teach Girl Scouts how to work collaboratively towards a creative solution. Email for More Info >

Opportunties for Schools: AIA Kansas City offers several education outreach programs on design. Designers will come to the classroom and walk students through curriculum that introduces students to different design disciplines through fun, hands-on activities. Students not only learn about the design professions, but also problem solving, team work, and presentation skills. Learn More >

Women in Design Day of Shadowing: This annual committee led event invites area high school students to shadow at local architecture firms in hopes of gaining experience about what it is like to work in the design profession. Email for More Info > 

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