All You Need To Know About Being An Architect

You consider becoming an architect but are still not sure whether this job is the right career choice for you or not?

Great! This article is exactly for you since I will show you everything you need to know about being an architect in the following chapters.

Not only will we talk about salaries, but also about work-life balance, stress at work, future career prospects and much more.

At the end of this article, I also provide you with an FAQ section where I answer various questions about an architect career.

After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of what the life of an architect really looks like and whether you still want to pursue this career or rather want to go for an alternative job opportunity instead.

Table of Contents

What does an Architect do?

Architects plan, design and oversee the construction of buildings.

They make sure that buildings meet high safety standards and also make sure buildings look as nice as possible.

Good architects also assure a high level of functionality at the same time to make their clients as happy as possible with the overall outcome.

Duties of an Architect

  • Planning of buildings
  • Assurance of solid infrastructure
  • Making sure that buildings fit into the surrounding landscape
  • Meeting local safety standards
  • Learning about new technologies that make construction more eco-friendly
  • Cost-efficient planning is crucial to stay competitive in the long run
  • Supervision of construction sites
  • Tracking of the construction progress
  • Invention of new design ideas
  • Drawing up feasibility reports
  • Creation of project proposals
  • Estimation of rough timelines
  • Acquisition of new clients

What a Typical Day looks like as an Architect?

Architects usually start their workday between 7 and 9 a.m.

They first check their mails to see if everything important happened during the night that needs to be addressed immediately.

After checking your mails, you will structure your day and see what things you have to do.

You will also schedule calls with clients to update them about the progress of their construction projects.

Now that you did all the administrative stuff, it is time to get to real work.

You will often do your work on a computer, but you will also use paper to write down your construction ideas.

From time to time, you will also show up at construction sites and will supervise and inspect the progress that has been made over the past days or weeks.

You will usually quit work between 5 and 6 p.m. and this will give you enough time to spend precious hours with your kids after work.

Architect Salary 2021

Architect salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $142,000> $70.55
Top 25 %$110,000 – $131,000$54.23 – $64.72
Bottom 25 %$72,000 – $81,000$35.72 – $40.27
Bottom 10 %$63,000 – $68,000$31.36 – $33.82
Range$63,000 – $185,000$31.36 – $92.28
Average$89,000$43.92

Architect salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$63,000 – $68,000$31.72 – $33.81
Junior$67,000 – $75,000$33.21 – $36.91
Professional$81,000 – $92,000$39.78 – $45.48
Senior Professional$88,000 – $105,000$43.17 – $52.19
Expert$110,000 – $135,000$54.33 – $66.82
Top Expert$125,000 – $185,000$62.31 – $92.24

Architect salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$89,300$44.47
Alaska$98,200$53.89
Arizona$78,400$38.72
Arkansas$71,900$35.03
California$93,500$46.27
Colorado$74,200$36.82
Connecticut$89,500$44.34
Delaware$82,400$45.82
District of Columbia$95,700$47.39
Florida$92,300$45.78
Georgia$94,100$46.72
Guam$84,200$41.66
Hawaii$87,400$43.37
Idaho$79,300$39.02
Illinois$81,800$40.59
Indiana$91,800$45.19
Iowa$79,200$39.09
Kansas$87,200$43.42
Kentucky$78,600$38.48
Louisiana$81,300$40.37
Maine$85,400$42.19
Maryland$90,100$44.58
Massachusetts$97,200$48.07
Michigan$81,400$40.32
Minnesota$89,700$44.38
Mississippi$76,200$37.81
Missouri$81,300$40.26
Montana$74,800$36.72
Nebraska$91,300$45.31
Nevada$89,700$44.49
New Hampshire$91,200$45.24
New Jersey$92,900$45.89
New Mexico$78,300$38.41
New York$108,400$53.67
North Carolina$88,400$43.47
North Dakota$81,700$40.27
Ohio$84,200$41.83
Oklahoma$87,100$43.39
Oregon$84,700$41.89
Pennsylvania$78,300$38.62
Rhode Island$81,200$40.08
South Carolina$88,400$43.62
South Dakota$87,200$43.32
Tennessee$83,500$41.49
Texas$92,100$45.88
Utah$77,400$38.38
Vermont$79,200$39.19
Virginia$89,900$44.42
Washington$87,900$43.61
West Virginia$91,200$45.01
Wisconsin$85,100$42.32
Wyoming$90,400$44.67

Job Security of Architects

Architects have pretty good job security.

In fact, if you are really good at what you are doing, you will likely get more jobs than you could ever work on.

There is a huge shortage of good architects in many regions and this means that you will have pretty decent job prospects.

Even if you get fired for some strange reason, chances are that you will find a new job soon.

Future Job Prospects of Architects

You will also have pretty good job prospects as an architect in the future.

In fact, if you get some experience in green construction, you will be one of the few people who will be able to plan and build those huge green infrastructure projects that will be proposed in the near future.

Consequently, you will play an important role in the transition from classical to green construction and will almost have freedom of choice for whom you want to work for.

Working Hours of Architects

Employed architects usually only work 40 hours per week or even less.

However, if you want to start your own architecture business, chances are that you will have to work much longer since you will have to do many administrative tasks besides your actual architecture work.

Job Satisfaction of Architects

Most architects report pretty good job satisfaction.

In fact, an architecture career can be great for you in case you love to plan and construct buildings while you still want to make good money and also have enough leisure at the same time.

Promotion Opportunities of Architects

Architects have pretty decent promotion opportunities.

If you are really good at what you are doing and are also willing to put in the work, you will get the responsibility for large projects pretty soon in your career and you will also get personnel responsibility sooner than you might expect.

Career Levels of Architects

  • Architect intern
  • Junior architect
  • Senior architect
  • Senior architect with budget responsibility
  • Senior architect with personnel responsibility
  • Project manager
  • Department head
  • Junior partner
  • Senior partner

Fields and Types of Architects

  • Residential architect
  • Commercial architect
  • Architect for green construction
  • Sustainable development architect
  • Landscape architect
  • Industrial architect
  • Agricultural architect
  • Interior architect
  • Exterior architect
  • Conservation architect

Educational Requirements of Architects

For becoming an architect, you need to get at least a bachelor’s degree in architecture.

Even better would be a master’s degree if you really want to maximize your chances to work in one of the fancy architecture companies out there.

Depending on the state you want to work as an architect, you may also need additional certifications.

How to become an Architect

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being an architect
  2. Apply for an internship at big architecture companies
  3. Stay in touch with people who work in this industry
  4. Apply for a degree recognized by the Architects Registration Board
  5. Study hard to get good grades
  6. Get additional certifications
  7. Apply for jobs in the architecture industry
  8. Become a real expert in sustainable construction
  9. Start your own business (if you want to)

Character Traits you need for working as an Architect

  • Patience
  • Stress resistance
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Openness to work with many different people
  • You should stay calm under pressure
  • Attention to detail
  • Willingness to take on high levels of responsibility
  • Reliability
  • Being self-critical helps to improve your skills
  • Passion for planning and construction of buildings
  • Creativity is key to find solutions to unexpected upcoming problems
  • Confidence that your ideas work out

Hard Skills for being an Architect

  • Good spatial thinking
  • Strong analytical skills help as well
  • You should be good at math to plan buildings in a safe manner
  • Ability to work with latest IT programs
  • Attention to detail helps
  • You need great design skills if you want to become a renowned architect
  • Willingness to expand your knowledge every day
  • Excellent knowledge about architecture
  • Good knowledge about legal topics

Soft Skills for being an Architect

  • Great communication skills help to deal with difficult clients
  • Stress resistance is key to lead a big project to success
  • People skills are crucial so that coworkers do what you want them to do
  • Ability to recover from mistakes and drawbacks
  • Patience helps to overcome annoying periods of building freezes
  • You need to build a good reputation in this industry
  • Good networking skills help to get in touch with influential people in this business
  • You always have to stay hungry
  • Openness for new things and changing work environments

Exit Options for Architects

While you will learn lots of specialized knowledge as an architect, you will often not learn many skills that are needed outside the construction industry.

Hence, while it will be relatively easy to jump around between different branches of architecture, it will be pretty difficult to exit your job and work in a completely different field.

Architect – Similar Careers

  • Engineer
  • Construction worker
  • Designer
  • Manager in an architecture firm
  • Urban planner
  • Drafter
  • Software engineer for architectural topics
  • Architectural photographer
  • Building control surveyor

Architect Career FAQs

Is working as an architect physically demanding?

Working as an architect is not physically demanding at all.

While you will just plan construction projects and supervise construction sites, construction workers will do most of the tasks that involve physical work while you will have a rather relaxed time in this regard.

Is working as an architect mentally demanding?

While working as an architect is not physically demanding, it can be mentally demanding.

In fact, you have to think quite a lot and also assure that your calculations are right.

Otherwise, the buildings that you plan may collapse in the long run.

Is it dangerous to work as an architect?

Working as an architect is not dangerous.

Most of the time, you will just work with your computer and will not be exposed to a risky work environment at all.

Hence, you will be able to enjoy a much safer work environment compared to most other people out there.

How long do architects stay in their jobs?

Architects stay in their jobs for quite a long time since they are able to enjoy pretty decent work-life balance and many architects are also really passionate about what they are doing.

Consequently, most architects are pretty happy with their jobs and have no reason to quit anytime soon.

Is it easy for architects to find a new job?

Architects are in high demand right now and in case you get fired or want to quit your job for some reason, chances are that you will find a new job in the architecture industry pretty soon, at least if you are good at what you are doing and also have the motivation to work hard on your skills.

Is it hard to switch from being an architect to another field of work?

While it is relatively easy to switch from one architecture company to the other, it will often be pretty difficult for architects to work in a completely different field since they often simply lack the skills required for that and will not find companies that are willing to employ them.

Do architects have a high social status?

While architects don’t have the same high social status as doctors since they will not be able to save lives on a daily basis, architects still have a decent social standing and will often be admired by many people of the general public.

Can you help out your family and friends as an architect?

In case one of your loved ones wants to build a home, you can be of great help since you can do all the planning and all the calculations that are necessary to make the construction progress as safe as possible.

By doing so, you can do your loved ones a favor and may also be able to get more new business contacts in the long run.

Can architects work remotely?

While architects can work remotely part of the time, they will also have to be present at construction sites in person once in a while.

Consequently, you should not become an architect if you want to entirely work from home but rather become a programmer or work in other jobs that are completely location-independent.

Is it easy to find a partner as an architect?

Since architects have a decent social status and also make good money, they also have a pretty easy time in the dating market.

In fact, many architects will almost have freedom of choice whom they want to marry.

Do architects have to work on weekends?

Architects don’t have to work on weekends.

However, you could still work as an architect on weekends if you want to make money on the side and want to gain additional experience to boost your career.

Do architects have to work on holidays?

As an architect, you also don’t have to work during holidays.

Instead, you can spend this time with your loved ones and also make nice city trips with your favorite people while other people who work in public transport or as a waiter don’t have this luxury.

Do I have to work at nighttime as an architect?

Architects don’t have to work in the evening or at nighttime most of the time.

Instead, they will often come home from work relatively early and will therefore have more than enough time for their hobbies and also to meet up with their friends for a drink after work.

Do you have to travel as an architect?

While you sometimes have to travel to congresses, you will be able to work in your area most of the time as an architect.

Consequently, you will also be able to spend lots of time with your family while many other people who aspire to a demanding corporate career will be away from home quite often.

Are architect pensions good?

Since you can make quite a lot of money as an architect during your active career, also your pension will be pretty decent.

Moreover, architects are also able to save and invest enough money for retirement and if you do this wisely, chances are that you will have a rather relaxed life once you get older since you do not have to worry about financial problems as much as most other people.

Are architect salaries going up?

Architect salaries have been going up over the past decade and due to the shortage of good architects out there, chances are that architect salaries will also increase in the future.

Can you have a positive effect on society as an architect?

Architects are pretty important for society since they are the ones who have to assure that our buildings will not collapse.

Hence, many lives depend on the judgement and the quality of work of architects.

How long does it take to become an architect?

Since you will have to get a college degree and may also need additional certifications for becoming an architect, it will take you at least 4 years until you are able to work as an architect after graduating from high school.

However, it can also take you much longer and this also greatly depends on your overall level of motivation and also on how you want to finance your studies.

Is it difficult to become an architect?

An architecture degree can be pretty demanding and this means that you have to work really hard to succeed in this field.

In fact, if you are a rather lazy person and not a genius, chances are that you will fail and will never get the chance to work in this industry.

Do you need to be smart to work as an architect?

Since you will often have to do complex calculations and long-term planning, it can help to have a high IQ if you want to work as an architect.

However, it also doesn’t mean that you need to be a genius.

You just need solid mental capacities and also the motivation to work hard on your skills.

Do architects have a good work-life balance?

Architects have a pretty decent work-life balance most of the time.

Quite often, architects come home from work early and will have more than enough time to spend with their loved ones and on hobbies they might have.

How many hours do architects have to work?

Most architects only work 40 hours or less.

Some of them even only work part-time and becoming an architect can therefore make quite a lot of sense for you in case you want to earn good money while still having enough time to spend on the things you like even more than work.

Do architects have to work many extra hours?

Architects don’t have to work many extra hours most of the time.

Sure, during stressful projects, you may have to work longer from time to time.

However, architects have pretty good work-life balance for most of the year.

How to maximize your chances of becoming an architect?

To increase your chances of becoming a successful architect, it is crucial that you build a strong network early in your life.

You should also study as hard as possible to get good grades so that it will become more likely to get a job in one of the renowned architecture companies.

Do architects work indoors or outdoors?

Architects work both indoors and outdoors.

While you will do most of the planning indoors with your computer, you will often have to track the progress on construction sites and make sure that everything goes according to plan.

What does the workplace of an architect look like?

While you will work indoors, you will work with your computer quite a lot but you will also make drawings and calculations on plain paper once in a while.

While you work outdoors, your workplace will change a lot depending on the size and the type of construction project you will have to supervise.

Do you have to look good for working as an architect?

Your looks don’t really matter for succeeding in the architecture industry.

What’s much more important is your overall knowledge in this field and that you also have the character traits that make successful architects stand out from the crowd.

Is an architect career beneficial for your private life?

Since you will be able to make decent money while still having a pretty good work-life balance, an architecture career can be greatly beneficial for your private life since you will have enough time for your family while you can still provide for your loved ones in a decent manner.

Do you need a college degree for becoming an architect?

You need at least a bachelor’s degree in architecture to work in this field.

Quite often, companies even require a master’s degree or some additional qualifications and you should therefore study hard to finally meet your career goals.

Do you need to be certified to work as an architect?

While it will be enough to finish your studies and to get a degree from a good university to work as an architect, some prestigious companies may require you to get additional certifications so that you stand out from the crowd.

How much does it cost to become an architect?

Since you will have to get a college degree for becoming an architect and study for many years, you will have to spend lots of money on tuition and other expenses related to college.

This can sum up to a six-figure amount and you should therefore really make sure that working as an architect is really what you want to do for a living for quite a long time to make it worth the investment.

Is being an architect a good career?

Since architects can make pretty decent money while their job satisfaction is pretty high on average, working as an architect can definitely be a great career path, at least if you are really interested in architecture and not just want to be in this game for the goodies that come along with it.

Is it easy to start your own business as an architect?

Once you have a few years of experience in the architecture industry and also have built a strong network, it will be pretty easy to start your own architecture business and you will also be able to do so at relatively low costs if you start out as a one-man show and expand your business later.

Can you provide for your family by working as an architect?

Since architects are able to make good money from what they are doing, most of them will have a pretty easy time providing for their families.

In fact, if you are an architect and your spouse also works in a job, chances are that your household income will be pretty high and you will be able to afford some luxury.

Will architects suffer from old-age poverty?

Thanks to their high income, most architects will not have to worry about old-age poverty that much, at least if they save and invest a sufficiently high share of their income and don’t waste everything on short-term consumption.

Can you get rich as an architect?

While architects make decent money, most of them will not get rich.

In fact, your only option to get rich as an architect is to become a partner or to start your own architecture business.

Hence, if money is your main driver, you may rather want to become a doctor, dentist or investment banker instead.

Do you get continuous training as an architect?

Architects get continuous training in most renowned companies out there.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can be lazy and wait for others to teach you things.

You should still drive yourself to new highs every day and also learn on your own to become a real expert in your field.

Are architects organized in unions?

Architects don’t have unions on a state level right now.

However, since working conditions and wages are pretty decent right now, this doesn’t really matter since you will be able to negotiate good conditions without the support of unions.

Do you get paid when you are sick as an architect?

While many renowned architecture companies grant you sick pay, some smaller companies in this field my not.

Consequently, make sure to read the terms of working contracts carefully to figure out what benefits and drawbacks come along with the respective employment contract.

Do architects have a high level of responsibility?

Architects have a pretty high level of responsibility.

In fact, if they plan buildings poorly, those buildings may collapse and many people may lose their lives.

Consequently, architects have to stay focused at work in the long run to avoid serious mistakes that could lead to catastrophic outcomes.

Can architects work abroad?

If you are really good at what you are doing and your expertise is needed across country borders, chances are that you will have a pretty easy time finding a new job in a different country as an architect.

Is it stressful to work as an architect?

While working as an architect is not physically demanding, it can be mentally and emotionally demanding.

In fact, you should not underestimate the stress that comes along with such a career and you should make sure to have a stable mindset to deal with this stress in a proper manner.

Is it boring to work as an architect?

Since you will work on many different projects in a rather short period of time, your work as an architect will likely never get boring, at least if you are interested in this kind of work and are not just in this field for the money.

Is being an architect hard?

While working as an architect is not hard on a physical level, it can be pretty demanding from a mental standpoint.

In fact, many architects don’t struggle with physical requirements, but most of them struggle to deal with the pressure that comes along with their jobs.

Is there a dress code for architects?

Architects don’t have to meet a certain dress code.

Instead, they can wear what they want at work as long as it looks professional and doesn’t annoy or irritate clients that may be present at construction sites as well.

What kind of architects are paid the most?

The longer you work as an architect, the better you will be paid on average.

Also, if you work on big private projects, those projects will usually be much more valuable compared to public infrastructure projects.

What percentage of architects are women?

Right now, less than 20% of architects are women.

However, this doesn’t mean that women have bad job prospects in this field.

It rather means that more men graduate with an architecture degree and that more men are interested in working in this field.

Do I need a mentor to succeed in the architectural industry?

You don’t necessarily need a mentor to succeed in the architecture business.

However, contacts with senior workers can help to get advice in case you are uncertain about difficult situations and how to deal with them.

Do architects have a high life expectancy?

Architects have a pretty high life expectancy since they don’t have to work under dangerous conditions and their risk of getting involved in accidents at work is rather low.

Due to their good salary, architects are also able to get proper medical treatment and this will further boost life expectancy.

Do architects suffer from sleeping problems?

Since architects mostly work during the day and don’t have to work at nighttime, most of them will also not suffer from sleeping problems and even if they do, this often doesn’t have to do anything with their jobs.

What states are best for working as an architect?

New York is a great place to work as an architect since you will often get the chance to design and plan extraordinary buildings and you can also make pretty good money in this state if you are good at what you are doing.

Job alternatives to becoming an architect

If you feel that a career as an architect is not the right way to go for you, you may rather want to try your luck as a drafter, construction worker, designer or urban planner instead.

What are the pros and cons of working as an architect?

If you are still interested in an architecture career, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of working as an architect.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/604392/number-of-establishments-for-architectural-services-in-the-us-by-employment-size/

https://www.statista.com/forecasts/1014346/architectural-engineering-and-related-services-revenue-in-the-us

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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