Architects design the overall aesthetic and look of buildings and other structures, but the design of a building involves far more than its appearance. Buildings also must be functional, safe, and economical and must suit the needs of the people who use them. Architects consider all these factors when they design buildings and other structures.
Architects sometimes specialize in one phase of work. Some specialize in the design of one type of building—for example, hospitals, schools, or housing. Others focus on planning and predesign services or construction management and do minimal design work. They often work with engineers, urban planners, interior designers, landscape architects, and other professionals. In fact, architects spend a great deal of their time coordinating information from, and the work of, others engaged in the same project. Many architects—particularly at larger firms—use the Internet and e-mail to update designs and communicate changes efficiently. Architects also use the Internet to research product specifications and government regulations.
During the required training period leading up to licensing as architects, entry-level workers are called interns. This training period, which generally lasts 3 years, gives them practical work experience in preparation for the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). Typical duties may include preparing construction drawings on CADD, building models, or assisting in the design of one part of a project.
Job Outlook and Growth Potential:
Prospective architects may face competition for entry-level positions, especially if the number of architectural degrees awarded remains at current levels or increases. Employment of architects is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012, and additional job openings will stem from the need to replace architects who retire, transfer to new occupations, or leave the labor force permanently for other reasons. However, many individuals are attracted to this occupation, and the number of applicants often exceeds the number of available jobs, especially in the most prestigious firms. Prospective architects who gain career-related experience in an architectural firm while they are still in school and who know CADD technology—especially that which conforms to the new national standards—will have a distinct advantage in obtaining an intern position after graduation.
Employment of architects is strongly tied to the level of local construction, particularly nonresidential structures such as office buildings, shopping centers, schools, and healthcare facilities. Employment in nonresidential construction is expected to grow because the replacement and renovation of many industrial plants and buildings has been delayed for years and a large number of structures will have to be replaced or remodeled, particularly in urban areas where space for new buildings is becoming limited. On the other hand, technology enhancements will dampen demand for new commercial construction as nontraditional work and retail environments, such as teleconferencing, home offices, telecommuting, and electronic shopping, proliferate.
Wages and Earnings Potential:
Median annual earnings of wage and salary architects were $56,620 in 2002.