When you’re in the early stages of career planning, everything can be a bit overwhelming – there’s just so much to choose from. Sure, you can list a few things you might like to do, but how do you know if your career choice is right for you? Specifically, if you’ve got your eye on building design, how do you know if you’d make a good architect?
The most important thing you’ll need is passion. Not natural talent, not construction experience, not computer know-how, but passion. Architecture is a skill, and like any other skill, it has to be honed through hundreds of hours of hard work. No matter how talented a student may be, if he or she gets frustrated and gives up at the first stumbling block, then he or she will never be an architect. Any person with enough passion and motivation to put in those extra hours perfecting every project, learn from his mistakes and seek help and advice when he needs it is on the right track to becoming a success. You’re going to be looking at architecture and thinking about architecture all day, every day – if you’re the kind of person who already does that, being an architect will barely feel like a job at all.
All of your years of hard work have come down to this moment. There are fancy hats, lots of speeches, and by the end of the day everyone is clutching their shiny new rolls of parchment. Architecture school has been a blast, and you’ve finally graduated.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you’re not actually an architect yet. In order to call yourself an architect and put the initials R.A. (registered architect) or A.I.A. (American Institute of Architects) after your name, you’ll need to obtain your architecture license. So how does a person do that?
Is an accreditation from National Architectural Accrediting Board really that important?
The reason that an NAAB stamp-of-approval is important is because majority of the States out there use this as a requirement for someone to qualify for his or her architecture license. There are three breakdowns in degree considerations when it comes to accreditation: pre-professional archictecture degree, professional architecture degree, and post-professional architecture degree. Now, while a University or College may be accredited by their regional standards, the important thing to remember here is that you are looking for an approved NAAB accreditation to qualify for your architecture license. The only degrees that are approved by the NAAB are the programs that fall under the Professional Architecture Degrees category.
Okay, so you know the gist of architecture. You know that architects go to school and learn to design buildings, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Here are some facts you might not know about architects and the work they do.
The gender gap in architecture is closing. Up until a few decades ago, the world of architecture was an exclusive one. Unless you were a man from a wealthy, high-status family, you had no hope of ever becoming an architect. Today, most architecture schools report that their students are roughly evenly split between genders, and hail from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.
They are one of the most self-employed professionals in existence. The American Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 21% of architects report being self-employed. In the general public, only 7% of working people report self-employment, making architects three times more likely to be their own boss.
Imagine for a moment that you’re an architect. If that’s your dream career, it’s something you’ve probably done hundreds of times before. But what, exactly, does your day as an architect consist of? Let’s go through an average day in your new life as an architect, from switching off your alarm clock in the morning to switching off your lights to go to bed at night.
You work for a small architectural firm, and you’re up at 7am to shower, dress, brush your teeth and grab a quick breakfast so you can get to the office by 8am. There’s a busy day ahead, and you’ve got to get an early start.
At 8:15, you’re in a meeting with a client. As it turns out, your initial cost estimates for their project were a little off the mark, and it’s going to take a few more hundreds of thousands of dollars than expected to carry out the project. You need to convince your clients to stay, or risk losing your firm a lot of money in fees. Twenty minutes later, they tell you they’ll think about it and call you later.
You’ve got it all figured out; you’re going to university to study architecture! You’ve got a solid life plan in place and you can’t wait to get started. Now there’s only one thing left to decide – where are you going to go to architecture school?
Choosing a university is a big decision for every student; after all, you’re going to be spending a great deal of time and money at whichever institution you pick. You probably don’t even need to be told how important it is to pick the right one for you. But just how does a person go about deciding which architecture school is best? There are some basic steps you can follow to help you with your decision.
This is it. You’ve got your acceptance letter in hand, your scholarships and student loans are all lined up, and you’re ready for architecture school!
But what, exactly, are you ready for?
In some ways your experiences in the very first year of architecture school won’t be too different from what your peers in other programs are experiencing. There’s a big gap from high school to university that all of you will have to contend with – bigger classes, more homework, higher standards, shorter deadlines – and you’ll find yourself taking a few of the same general degree requirements as everyone else, like English, introductory math and psychology. At this stage of things, you don’t want to be getting too close to your architecture classmates just yet. Architecture programs have a much higher dropout rate than other programs in their first year, as students realize that this career path isn’t right for them and switch into other majors. But after that initial exodus from the program is over, you and your remaining classmates will likely be receiving your diplomas together on graduation day.
How hard is it to get into architecture school? That depends on a number of variables. If you are wanting to get into an Ivy League school’s architecture program, then you might want to be at the top of your class (Harvard accepts just 15% of its applicants for architecture school, according to one recently accepted student). But if you are just looking to get into any school that offers a professional architecture degree, then you have a good chance, depending on how hard you want to work for it. There are 123 schools that offer a professional architecture degree (approved by the NAAB, which is required to receive your architecture license in most states). From these schools, there are 154 professional programs: 58 Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch) degree programs, 95 Master of Architecture (M. Arch) degree programs, and 1 Doctor of Architecture (D. Arch) degree program.
This is the complete list of NAAB accredited architecture schools. If it is not on this list, it is not an NAAB approved professional architecture degree.
For many students, the decision to try off-campus living comes after careful consideration. In some situations, a student may simply prefer off-campus living. These students may prefer to focus their time on their studies instead of an on-campus social life. In other cases, a student may have applied to live on campus, but the university wasn’t able to find space for the student. Regardless of the reason, many students take advantage of off-campus living opportunities during their time at college.