What does a Architect do?

Median Pay $78,470
Growth Rate 4%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

Architects design structures such as office buildings, businesses, stadiums, schools, malls, and homes. They might also design outdoor spaces. An architect will collect all information for a project to include site selection, environmental impact, zoning laws, building codes, and access to buildings for the disabled. They visit site locations to visualize their projects and prepare scaled drawings to submit to a client or employer as a design. They also estimate build costs, materials needed, and the projected time-frame to complete a build.

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How to Become an Architect


If you happen to be in high school, you’ll want to take as much science and math as possible. This career field is unique in that you must use science and math but you may find yourself sketching and/or modeling. Since you will be designing structures, courses in art are vital as this will help improve your sketches and sculptures. You would also use a computer and may learn Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Building Information Modeling (or BIM).

Most earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture and then gain experience through an internship. Some architects continue their education and earn their master’s degree in architecture. Architects are also required to pass the Architect Registration Exam which is developed by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). NCARB has a host of materials to help students study for the Architect Registration Exam (link opens in a new tab).

Job Description of an Architect

An architect is responsible for drawing up the detailed plans for a structure and developing final construction plans to include electrical and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems. They may also provide designs for landscape requirements, plumbing, and communication systems. They closely follow the progress of the construction site to be sure schedules stay on-time, the proper design is implementation, and the required materials are being used. They also are sure to check on the quality of work. Sometimes, an architect may help their client receive fair construction bids and get quality contractors.

They tools such as building information modeling (BIM) and/or computer-aided design and drafting (CADD). Hand-drawing skills are used mostly during the early design stages of a project. They usually spend their day working in an office, meeting with potential customers, coordinating with other engineer or architects, and designing drawings for projects. They can also be found at a construction site overseeing the progress of a project.

Architect Job Posting

Let’s look at an architects job description posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This job announcement is looking for an architect to perform the following tasks:

  • Plan and prepare detailed designs and design analysis covering specific architectural features for variety of structures in connection with projects consisting of military and civil works facilities of both temporary and permanent construction.
  • Prepare preliminary and final drawings consisting of building site plans, floor plans, elevations, sections, architectural details, exterior and interior color schedules covering a variety of construction including timber frame, structural steel frame, concrete block, concrete tilt-up, and reinforced concrete-type buildings, and other structures.
  • Review and check contractor shop drawings to assure compliance with contract plans
    and specifications.

This position was posted to run in October 2017 with a salary of $37,113 to $69,207 per year per year on USAjobs.gov, part of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Free Career and Student Resources

The Association of Architecture Organization (AAO) offers educational opportunities through public programs, tours, exhibitions, and K-12 education.

Free Architecture Online Course

The Universidad Politecnica de Valencia offers a free course (in English) on EdX.org titled, Sustainability in Architecture: An Interdisciplinary Introduction (link opens in a new tab) with the option to pay a small fee receive a verified certificate upon completion of the course.

By taking this course, you’ll learn:

  • How to evaluate the sustainability performance of buildings from materials.
  • Ways to assess energy use.
  • How to account for use of urban infrastructure.
  • How to create a neighborhood model adequate for analysis and urban policy assessment.

Architect Career Video Translation

Hi I’m Tony Alonso, I’m the regional chief architect for the GSA (U.S. General Services Administration) capital region. My role is to review designs and approve design work. We do large new construction and renovation projects. My role here as an architect with the government is to manage the design and lead a a team of other architects, engineers also, historic preservationists, interior designers, all working on these projects and reviewing them. Buildings have a great impact on our environment and one-third of all greenhouse gases come from buildings.

One of our favorite things that we’ve been doing is using green roof technology on many of our projects. When it rains, what happens here is this area of green absorbs water and doesn’t allow it to run into the gutters and down into the street where it gets mixed up with the sewer system. It also keeps the roof cooler than a traditional roof and so it serves as a form of insulation to the building. Architecture is an art and a science. So mathematics is very important. Geometry for example, is fundamental to understanding and it’s a skill that all architects need to have.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Architects.

National Center for O*NET Development. 17-1011.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the Public Domain and originally hosted on Kids.gov which is now USA.gov, an interagency product administered by USAGov, a division of the U.S. General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service.