Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design, Third Edition
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More About This Title Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design, Third Edition


Becoming an Architect will inspire future architects, career consultants, and human resources professionals alike, providing all the information you’ll need to make intelligent decisions about careers in architecture.” —From the Foreword by Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, 2014 AIA National President

Starting a career as an architect is an exciting prospect, but it's important to do your research before you take the plunge. The third edition of Becoming an Architect is an update to the best-selling guide and highlights the risks and rewards on the path to a career as an architect. You'll find new insight and tons of helpful resources, as well as a complete outline of the trajectory of an architect's early career, from higher education through internship and licensure. More than thirty-two new interviews and profiles from architecture students, emerging, and established professionals give the resource a truly personal feel, and help get you acquainted with real-life scenarios from architects from varying backgrounds and specialties.

With a highly accessible approach, this guide provides a complete overview of the profession, including educational requirements, design specialties, registration requirements, and the paths of a career in architecture. Whether you're a high school student, a college undergraduate, a career counselor, or a human resource professional, Becoming an Architect offers much-needed advice and information to anyone interested in career development for architects.

  • Covers recent changes to the Intern Development Program (IDP)
  • Provides advice on obtaining professional experience while studying to be an architect
  • Considers career paths in a myriad of work environments, such as government agencies, education, and research
  • Includes helpful appendixes with resources for further information, such as career-related associations, websites, and recommended reading

Obtain a solid introduction to a career as an architect, and plan your own path with the guidance and advice of dozens of others who have already started this process.


LEE W. WALDREP, PHD, has over 20 years of experience in higher education with expertise in career development and architecture. Waldrep earned a Ph.D. in counseling and development from The American University, a master of architecture from Arizona State University, and a bachelor of science from the University of Michigan. During his career, he has served in three accredited architecture programs—the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Maryland and Illinois Institute of Technology. Waldrep previously served as Associate Executive Director of the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and as National Vice-President of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS). Waldrep has written and presented on the topics of careers and architecture extensively around the country. In addition, he is a contributor to AIA's Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice, 15th Edition.





1 The Definition of an Architect 1

What Do Architects Do? 2

Design Process 3

Why Architecture? 4

Is Architecture for You? 4

Question—What Is Architecture? 5

Career Profiles 12

Profile of the Profession 36

Salary 36

Diversity 37

Question—What Are the Most Important

Skills an Architect Needs to Be Successful? 38

Career Profiles 45

2 The Education of an Architect 71

Preparation 72

Activities 72

Programs 72

Academic Coursework 73

Exploration 74

Visits 75

Summers 76

After-School Programs 77

Question—What Advice Would You Provide to Someone Who Wants to Be an Architect? 78

Career Profiles 86

Paths to an Accredited Degree 100

Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) 100

Pre-Professional Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) 100

Undergraduate Degrees (B.A./B.S.) in Fields Other Than Architecture and Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) 102

Doctor of Architecture (D.Arch.) 102

Joint Degrees 102

Post-Professional Degrees 103

Decision-Making Process 103

You 105

Institution 105

Architecture Program 106

Resources 109

Promotional Materials, Videos, Catalogs, and Websites 109

Guide to Architecture Schools/ 110

Career Days in Architecture 110

Campus Visits/Open Houses 110

Admissions Counselor/Administrator 111

Students, Faculty, Alumni, and Architects 111

National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) 111

Architecture Program Report (APR) / Visiting Team Report (VTR) 111

Ranking of Architecture Programs 112

Application Process 112

Application 113

Application Essay/Personal Statement 113

Researching a Graduate Program 114

Test Scores 115

Transcripts 115

Portfolio 115

Recommendations 117

Scholarships/Fellowships/Competitions 118

Career Profiles 119

You Are an Architecture Student 135

Student Performance—Educational Realms and Student Performance Criteria 136

Courses 140

Architecture Electives: A Sample 144

Tools 144

Academic Enrichment 145

Off-Campus Programs (Study Abroad) 145

Independent Study 145

Minors/Certificates 146

Double Major/Degrees/Joint Degrees 146

Lecture Series/Exhibits/Reviews 147

Community Service 148

Mentoring 149

Student Organizations 149

Conclusion 150

Career Profiles 150

The Experience of an Architect 167

Gaining Experience as a Student 168

Shadow 168

Volunteer 168

Research with Faculty 168

Externship 168

Internship 169

Cooperative Education 170

Preceptorship 171

Career-Related Experience 171

Gaining Experience as an Emerging Professional 171

Full-Time Positions 171

Volunteer 172

Design Competitions 172

Mentoring 172

Professional Associations 172

Question—What Do You Look for When Hiring a New Designer? 173

Career Profiles 178

A.R.C.H.I.T.E.C.T. 201

Assessment 201

Research 201

Connections 201

Help 202

Interim Positions 202

Tools 202

Experience 203

Commitment 203

Transition 204

Moving toward Licensure 204

Intern Development Program (IDP) 204

Architect Registration Examination (ARE) 206

Intern Development Program (IDP) Experience Categories and Areas 207

NCARB Certificate 210

Conclusion 210

Career Profiles 210

The Careers of an

Architect 237

Career Designing 237

Assessing 238

Exploring 240

Decision Making 242

Planning 243

Career Profiles 245

Career Paths 266

Architectural Practice 267

Architect Positions 267

Outside Traditional Practice 268

Beyond Architecture 269

The Career Paths of an Architect 272

Career Profiles 273

The Future of the Architecture Profession 297

Sustainability 299

New Technologies/Social Media 299

Building Information Modeling (BIM) 300

The Future of Architecture Architects 300

New Practices 301

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) 302

Collaboration 302

Diversity 302

Globalization 303

Public Interest Design 303

Distance Education/Learning 303

The Future 304

The Next Architect: A New Twist on the Future of Design 304

Question—What Do You See as the Future for the Architecture Profession? 305

Appendix A: Resources of an Architect 313

Collateral Organizations 313

Architecture-Related Associations 314

Associations-Related Careers 316

Architectural History 316

Construction 316

Design (Graphic, Industrial, Furniture, Lighting) 316

Historic Preservation 317

Interior Design 317

Planning/Landscape Architecture 318

Technical/Engineering 318

Dedicated to Architecture 319

Community Service 320

Recommended Reading 321

Websites 326

Appendix B: Accredited Architecture Programs in the United States and Canada 329

Appendix C: Career Profiles 341