Architecture Occupation - Outlook for the Future

March 28, 2013


Personal Experience so Far:

I recently visited Illinois Institute of Technology's architecture department, and was quite impressed. I enjoy the close proximity to the city of Chicago, and the high energy campus feel. The campus also had many modern buildings. Overall IIT is defiantly staying on my list of colleges.

The entire architecture building was practically filled with students studying architecture. I was shocked to find out that the studio did not even start for another half an hour, because of the amount of students committed to their project by coming early. It was interesting to see the differences in the students year levels. The first year students were talkative, and moving around freely visiting with others. As I visited the more advanced students I saw more work on their desks, more laptops, and generally more intensity. As I got the the fifth year students I saw that they were all silent. They were working on their final projects that would be complete within a couple months.

The diversity on campus was great. I would think that a majority of architecture students would be female, but I was surprised to see an equal mix.

Out of the few schools that actually have accredited architecture programs in my area, IIT seems like a great choice so far. The others schools that have accredited programs in Illinois are University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Judson University, Southern Illinois University, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

IIT Campus, Chicago Illinois

Job Description of Architects:

Architects design buildings and other structures. In addition to considering the way these buildings and structures look, they also make sure they are functional, safe, economical and suit the needs of the people who use them.

Employment Facts for Architects:

Architects held about 141,000 jobs in 2008. Most of these jobs were in the architectural, engineering, and related services industry. A small number worked for residential and nonresidential building construction firms and for government agencies. About 21% of all architects was self-employed.

Educational Requirements for Architects:

There are three types of professional degrees in architecture offered through colleges and universities:
5-year Bachelor of Architecture programs intended for students entering programs from high school or with no previous architectural training
2-year Master of Architecture programs for students with a preprofessional undergraduate degree in architecture or a related area
3 or 4-year Master of Architecture programs offered to students with degrees in other disciplines

To be an accredited architect in the US you must either get a 5 year professional degree, or a 4 year bachelors degree with a 2 year masters degree. The route you take depends mainly on your school choice.  Different schools offer different specializations that can be acquired through the electives that you take. Such specializations can be urban planning, or environmental building.

Before attending a school for architecture it is EXTREMELY important to make sure they are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). A list of schools can be found here: Only a few states do not have this requirement.

Job Outlook for Architects:

Employment of architects is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. Prospective architects may face competition for positions at prestigious firms. To increase one's chances of getting an internship after graduation, prospective architects should gain career-related experience in an architectural firm while still in school. Those who know CADD technology will also have an advantage.

How Much Do Architects Earn?:

Median annual earnings of wage and salary architects were $72,700 in 2009. Recent graduates working on internships will earn much less. Those starting out in private practices will go through a period of time when they are operating at a loss.
Use the Salary Wizard at to find out how much architects currently earn in your city.

A Day in an Architect's Life:

On a typical day an architect will:

  • Discuss the objectives, requirements, and budget of a project;
  • Provide various predesign services which may include conducting feasibility and environmental impact studies, selecting a site, or specifying the requirements the design must meet;
  • Prepare drawings and present ideas for the client to review;
  • Develop final construction plans that show the building's appearance as well as details for its construction;
  • Follow building codes, zoning laws, fire regulations, and other ordinances;
  • Make necessary changes throughout the planning process;


Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Architects, Except Landscape and Naval, on the Internet at (visited November 8, 2010).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET OnlineArchitects, Except Landscape and Naval, on the Internet at (visited November 8, 2010).

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