Your Career in Architecture
Choosing your career path is an important step in your life. It's an exercise in examining what's happening in your life today and where you hope to be in the future. That can be challenging, but if you want to choose a career that you will find fulfilling and where you can thrive over time it's essential. Architecture is a competitive field that requires equal parts creativity, brainpower and dedication.
Creativity - Architecture is an artform. At its best it's innovative, visionary and aesthetically compelling. If you like to develop and implement new and innovative ideas then it might be a good career choice for you. Architecture is also about 'making', designing and fabricating things of all sizes and scales, from furniture to buildings to cities.
Brainpower - Architects are problem-solvers. They assess and analyze the conditions and issues in the world around them and propose solutions. That requires an ability for observation and critical thinking to develop prototypes and to test them. Architects use these abilities when developing spatial organizations, designing structure and mechanical systems, and detailing building skins - all with an eye to function, sustainability, safety and economics.
Dedication - Architecture is a calling. It is a challenging and fulfilling career that will allow you to make a positive impact on the built environment, communities and the lives of others. Architects use their creativity and brainpower to solve the needs of others and to help them realize their dreams, and that takes commitment, hard work, continued study and a willingness to collaborate with others.
What do architects do?
Architects work with clients, the community, consultants, experts, city offices and contractors. They lead the teams that get the job done. Architects consult with clients to determine their needs and also work with other stakeholders to ensure the project accomplishes the larger goals of the community. They lead and develop projects from early concept through design development and resolve complex design issues with innovative practical solutions. Architects prepare drawings, specifications and construction documents, organize and manage permit documents and observe construction.
What skills do architects need?
Architects need a combination of soft and technical skills. First and foremost they need to be leaders. They need to be good listeners so that they can understand what clients and shareholders needs are and what restrictions and capabilities their team has. Good communication skills are important; architects need them to lead their team, share ideas and sell their design. They also need good critical thinking skills to be able to make informed evidence-based decisions, evaluate possible solutions and to keep the project moving forward.
Architects also use an array of media to bring their vision to fruition. These include drawing, model-making and the use of different types of software. Quick sketches help to explore ideas, models test those ideas and let the architect and the client see how the design is evolving. Graphic software helps to communicate using diagrams and visualization, while design software helps to develop the design and create construction documents. Analytic software helps to test things like wind load and lighting or calculate structural loads, allowing architects to improve building performance through data-driven design.
What can I do with a degree in Architecture?
The majority of graduates from architecture programs, about 60%, pursue a professional career working in an architectural office. Training provides individuals with the ability to design all kinds of building and most firms engage in a variety of building types. Some firms may have specializations like healthcare and hospitals, hospitality, education or military facilities.
An architectural education also provides a broad spectrum of skill sets that can lead to additional career opportunities. Related fields like preservation, interior design and urban planning are not uncommon, as are careers in education (like teaching, historian and researcher) and construction management (like construction management, developer or contractor).
Other areas that architects often pursue are design careers like furniture design, product design, graphic design, web design, exhibit design, fashion design and curatorial work. The film industry is also an area where architects have expanded into including art direction, set design and creative direction. Architects also engage in game design, often designing the 'assets' or the visual environment in video games.
Pre-College Career Planning
College career planning begins in high school. Knowing what classes to take is essential to planning your future. The University System of Georgia maintains the Required High School Curriculum (RHSC) that contains the minimum unit requirements for each subject area. Additionally, high school GPA's are calculated based on the required RHSC coursework. That coursework consists of 17 academic units that include 4 units of English, 4 units of mathematics, 4 units of science, 3 units of social science and 2 units of foreign language.
The University System of Georgia Freshman Admissions Requirements, Required High School Curriculum can be found at the following link:
This link contains the list of high school courses that are applicable and FAQs that can assist you in planning your high school curriculum.
Electives and After-school options
Students considering a career in architecture may also choose to take elective courses that strengthen basic skillsets that will come in handy in their college career. Examples of relevant course content include; life drawing, art media, Drafting, Adobe Suite software, Rhino software, Revit software, architecture and engineering, furniture making. Students may also opt to participate in competitions, workshops and camps available in the area like the AIA High School Design Competition or the ACCI Summer Camp for architecture.
Prospective students may also want to familiarize themselves with architectural media that can provide a visual vocabulary of the profession, as well as important information about the profession and school. These include websites, magazines and books like:
The following YouTube channels may also be helpful:
- AIA- This is the official channel of the American Institute of Architects.
- Drew Paul Bell's Advice on Architecture- Architect Drew Bell, a KSU Program Alumni, offers information and advice for architecture students and those entering the profession.
- How to Architect- Architect Doug Patt's channel provides great information and instructional videos on architecture and basic skills.
- The B1M- This channel has great informational videos on major construction projects around the globe focusing on the architecture.
Starting Your College Career
Your college career starts with understanding your degree path options and making informed decisions about where to study and what type of program is best for you. It also includes financial planning-- how you are going to pay for your education.
To become an Architect, you will have to first get a degree from a program accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB). The NAAB evaluates all architecture programs in the U.S. based upon a set of standard Student Performance Criteria (SPC) that establish critical thinking and technical skills required for the profession. The NAAB's accreditation is independent of the university's accreditation.
Most of the state licensing boards in the U.S. require architects to hold a professional degree from a NAAB-accredited program. Additionally, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) requires a degree from a NAAB-accredited program to satisfy the education requirement for certification. Without this requirement you may not be eligible to sit for the licensing exam.
It is important to know that many schools offer architecture programs that are not accredited by NAAB. Getting your degree from one of these programs may limit where you can practice. It may also mean you have to pursue additional requirements in order to sit for the licensing exam and get NCARB certification.
You can search for NAAB accredited programs on their site at: https://www.naab.org/accreditation/accredited-programs/
Degree Path Options- B.ARCH VS. M.ARCH
There are currently three degree-path options for students to consider. The traditional 4+2, the 5-year professional and a new piloted 7-year integrated program. It is important to understand their distinctions and how that impacts your college career.
The traditional 4+2 path is composed of a 4-year undergraduate degree in architecture (Bachelor of Design) plus a 2-year M.ARCH degree for a total of 6 years of formal college education. In this model it is the 2-year M.ARCH degree that is the NAAB accredited degree. Students pursuing this path apply to an undergraduate program, graduate and then must apply to a NAAB accredited graduate program. The latter degree may be at their alma mater or at another institution. It is important to note that this requires applying to two programs and potentially two universities. Enrollment in the undergraduate degree program is not a guarantee of entry into the graduate program. Possession of the 4-year undergraduate degree does not satisfy the educational requirement for NCARB certification and licensure eligibility. Students with the M.ARCH degree may sit for the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE) once they have completed their Architectural Experience Program (AXP, the NCARB internship program). Students who have an undergraduate degree in another field may apply to a 3-year M.ARCH program for a total of 7 years of formal college education.
The 5-year first professional degree path is a NAAB accredited degree program. Students pursuing this path apply to the undergraduate degree and remain in the program for 5 years. This degree does satisfy the NCARB education requirement and students with this degree are eligible to sit for the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE) once they have completed their Architectural Experience Program (AXP, the NCARB internship program). The benefit to this path is a reduction of one year of formal higher education and the student only has to apply to a single degree program. Additionally, the 5-year degree path may lead to reduced educational cost savings, the student is in school for 5 vs. 6 years and tuition is all undergraduate ,which is typically lower then graduate tuition.
The 7-year integrated path is a recent addition to student's options. Programs that offer this path require the student to be registered in the Architectural Experience Program (AXP, the NCARB internship program) continuously as part of the college curriculum. The degree is granted after 7 years of combined course work and internships. The student typically must be enrolled in an internship the entire time they are in the program.
College is a major financial investment so you'll want to make sure it pays off. Today few people have savings to cover the entire cost of a college degree. Smart early planning can make a difference that starts with assessing what finances are available and building a budget.
When assessing schools, make sure you review the total annual cost of your education including tuition, housing, food, transportation and supplies. This can vary widely from program to program. It's not just tuition, but location can dramatically impact housing and cost of living, as well as ability to find an internship, should you need one.
Make sure you plan appropriately and strategically. Chose a good school that works in your budget. Going to an expensive school may not add value to your future career, especially if it means you have to work so many hours you learn little or graduate with a mountain of debt.
Assess what finances you have available to you and what, if any, finances you will have to pursue during the course of your education. Remember your goal is a college degree-- your financial plan has to support that first and foremost.
Find out what are you eligible for in student loans. Government backed student loans have low interest rates and you don't start to pay them back until after your graduate. This option is a good way to stay focused on your education. You will have to pay off the loans over time after graduation, but if you plan correctly you can make sure this does not become an unnecessary burden down the road.
Find out what scholarships are available. Does the program have degree specific scholarships? What access and support are there for finding outside scholarships? Do some homework and find out what scholarship support you are likely to be eligible for. Many scholarships have eligibility requirements that are time-specific, meaning they are available for students in certain years of their education like junior or senior. You should map out the ones that you are eligible for and plan to apply to them when you can. Remember, don't count on getting the scholarship; they are highly competitive. Apply for as many as you can and often. Its free money-- don't leave it on the table.
If you do need to work, you want that work to contribute both financially and to your career goals. In the case of architecture that means working toward your Architecture Experience Program (AXP, the NCARB internship program). Find out the availability of internships where the school is located. The higher number of architectural firms means a higher likelihood you can get a job that works for you. As a freshman, you don't have many marketable skills. That means the pay will be low. After your first two years you will have marketable skills and you'll be able to command a fair wage for your time. It is probably better to take out loans in your first year and half. This way you can concentrate on the basics and build a solid foundation to your education.
Remember, if you are working it is to support your goals of getting a degree and starting your career in architecture. If you have to work more then 10 hours a week, your education and grades will suffer. This will have a negative impact on your future career.
For more information about Financial Aid at KSU follow the link below:
Plan to Give it Your All
College can be a life changing experience, and you'll want to make the most of it, but remember why you're in college. You're investing in yourself, in your future. You're here to learn, build skills, get a degree and start a career. Expectations and competition are high in college, you'll have to give it your all if you want to succeed. Remember having fun is okay as long as it doesn't have a negative impact on your education.
As a college student you will be expected to attend ALL of your classes; absences and showing up late will reduce your grades. Likewise, projects have strict deadlines. Professors do not have to accept a late project and if they do there will be points deducted. Homework is essential; not doing it will definitely have a negative impact on your grades and how much you learn.
Make sure to plan ahead. Your class syllabus will list all homework, projects, exams and due dates. Make sure you develop a calendar that has all of your assignments and due dates so you know how to plan your week.
Never procrastinate. If you want to do your best work get started early, do a draft, examine it, rethink it, redo it. Good work takes time, effort and thought. You won't do your best if you do it the night before.
Make sure you know your GPA and are following the course flow charts for your degree. Not taking the right course at the right time can mean a delay in your graduation. That will cost you time and money.
Many universities have policies that restrict how often you can take a course. Withdrawal and failure are not options. Remember they are not advancing your goals. Only withdraw if you know you are failing a course. Withdrawing may also impact your financial aid so make sure you have checked this out first. Failing a course has a devastating impact on your GPA and can threaten you standing at the university.
Kennesaw State University offers the NAAB Accredited 5-year First Professional B.ARCH degree. Students wishing to apply to KSU's B.ARCH program must first apply to KSU. Once accepted to KSU the applicant must then be approved for acceptance into the B.ARCH program.
Transfer students who have previously attended a NAAB Accredited program may submit a transcript and portfolio for advanced placement.
KSU admissions standards
- 2.5 GPA in 17 units of required high school coursework as calculated by KSU (see Pre-College Planning- H.S. Curriculum)
- SAT scores as follows:
- SAT total score on 1600 scale: 1030
- SAT Reading Test Score 25
- SAT Math section score 490
- ACT scores as follows:
- ACT Composite score of 20
- ACT English subscore of 18
- ACT Math subscore of 18
For more information on KSU Admissions:
KSU Department of Architecture Admissions
Do.ARCH admissions standards:
- 2.5 GPA in 17 units of required high school coursework as calculated by KSU (see Pre-College Planning- H.S. Curriculum)
- SAT scores as follows:
- SAT total score on 1600 scale: 1080
- SAT Reading Test Score 25
- SAT Math section score 490
- ACT scores as follows
- ACT Composite score of 21
- ACT English subscore of 18
- ACT Math subscore of 18
Do.ARCH B.ARCH Curriculum
The B.ARCH Program is centered on the ten-semester studio sequence that proceeds from the basic fundamentals of design and architecture, through the technical aspects of building and comprehensive design, to investigations of the urban condition. It culminates in the fifth year's exploration of architecture as a form of design research. Reinforcing the studios are sequences in design communication, architecture culture, structure, environmental technology and professional practice. Collectively, they provide the more holistic understanding of the design process necessary for the production of functional and meaningful architecture.
For more detailed information on the curriculum, including a list of courses and the course flow chart, follow the link below:
The B.ARCH program is a fall start program. Incoming freshmen will register for their first architecture courses (Intro. to Architecture and Architecture Studio I) in the fall semester. Change of majors and transfer students who have been accepted into the program may take a limited number of courses in the spring and summer when available.
All students in the B.ARCH program must maintain a 2.75 GPA. Only courses passed with a grade of 'C' or higher may be used toward graduation. KSU has a strict policy limiting the number of times a course may be taken to two (2).
2nd Year Portfolio Review
A portfolio review and evaluation are mandatory for all students seeking to enter the upper division of the B.ARCH program (3rd year through 5th year, see course flow chart) and must successfully pass the Portfolio Review Evaluation. There are 4 components of the portfolio review process and it is imperative that each applicant be successful in all of them.
- You are in good standing with the University, an adjusted GPA of 2.5 or higher.
- Meet all ARCH course requirements with a grade of 'C' or higher and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5
- Complete all Georgia Core courses required in the course flow chart with a grade of 'C' or higher
- Pass the Portfolio Review Evaluation with and average cumulative score of 2.5 (considered "satisfactory") or higher.
For more detailed information on the Portfolio Review including Evaluation Process and Portfolio Examples the link below:
The Department of Architecture holds several in-house competitions designed to foster excellence and highlight key thresholds in the B.ARCH curriculum. Among them are:
- Portfolio Competition- Awards are granted to the highest scoring portfolios submitted for 2nd year portfolio review.
- Integrated Studio Competition- Awards are granted to the highest evaluated projects from the Integrated studio. 'A' graded projects from each studio section are premeated to first round status. Final selection is determined via Jury composed of outside professionals, experts and faculty.
- 3MT Competition- The 3Minute Thesis celebrates the exciting research done by Thesis students in the B.ARCH program and acknowledges the importance of presentation to the successful career in architecture. The department of Architecture follows the format developed by the University of Queensland, where competing students have three minutes to present their thesis project proposals and supporting research. The department brings in presentation coaches and an outside jury of professional and academic experts to make the final selections.
- NCUR- An integral component of thesis work is the actual written research document. Research and writing are fundamental skills for all architects. The Department of Architecture nominates thesis students whose thesis research is of high standing to participate in the National Council on Undergraduate Research conference. Through its annual conference, NCUR creates a unique environment for the celebration and promotion of undergraduate student achievement, provides models of exemplary research and scholarship, and helps to improve the state of undergraduate education.
- Archi-Prix- Archiprix International is a biennial competition. Each year the faculty select one project that best represents the programs vision and highest standard of excellence for nomination to Archi-Prix. The competition is open to all university-level training colleges around the world.
- CriticalMASS- Each year the College of Arts and Architecture at UNC Charlotte hosts CriticalMASS, a research symposium where students from around the southeast share their research projects with each other and a panel of national and international jurors. The Department of Architecture faculty nominate one student each year to participate in this research symposium.
- Thesis Competition- Each year we recognize the hard work of our thesis students with the Thesis Competition. This award goes to the students whose work demonstrates a clear line of thought from initial concept through critical research to application in the form of an architectural intervention. The department brings in an outside jury of nationally recognized professions and academic experts to make the final selections.
- Alpha Rho Chi Bronze Medallion- The Alpha Rho Chi Bronze Medallion honors those graduating students who demonstrated outstanding service, leadership and merit during the tenure in an architecture program. The students are selected by votes from faculty and students as exemplary for their contributions to the program, studio culture and their peers.
- KSU Distinguished Global Ambassador- The Distinguished Global Ambassadors (DGA) Program is a selective international leadership program administered under the auspices of the United Nations and offered through The Division of Global Affairs and our newly established CIFAL Atlanta Center at KSU.
- Tau Sigma Delta Honors Society Chi Alpha Chapter- Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society in Architecture and Allied Arts is the only national honor society for architecture and design majors that is accredited by the Association of College Honor Societies. The Society recognizes intellectual achievement, effort and initiative as well as leadership and character. This prize of membership acknowledges undergraduate and graduate students who have completed 5 semesters of study in their field, are in the upper 20th percentile of their class and have a GPA of 3.25 or higher.
- AIA Henry Adams Medal and Certificate- The AIA Henry Adams Award is a medal of excellence honoring one student from each of the NAAB accredited schools each year that has demonstrated excellence throughout his or her academic career, including excellence in design, leadership and service. The award is named in honor of Henry Adams (1838-1918), a historian, journalist, and scholar who donated the royalties from his book Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres to the AIA.
Students at KSU are eligible for an extensive list of regional, national and global scholarships accessed through financial aid. The following scholarships are only available to architecture students.
The Architecture Foundation of Georgia (AFGA) offers two scholarships to students enrolled in Georgia Architecture programs including here at KSU.
- AFGA John Mulford Scholarship
- AFGA Dorothy Spence Scholarship
The Department of Architecture at KSU offers the following scholarships to students enrolled in the B.ARCH program.
- Jimmy Goldgieger Scholarship
- Lance Linscott Scholarship
- Jim Fausett Scholarship
- Jeremy Smith Scholarship
- Kimbal Family Travel Scholarship
KSU hosts over 400 student organizations with a broad spectrum of interests and specialization. Students can search organizations based on their interest, find events and get involved through Owl Life.
The Department of Architecture at KSU hosts three local chapters of national architecture student organizations. Membership is open to all students enrolled in the B.ARCH program. The organizations provide workshops, volunteer opportunities and social events for their members that work with architecture student's schedules and interests.
- AIAS- Since 1956, the American Institute of Architecture Students has been the voice of students to the educational system and the profession and architecture and design. Our mission is to promote excellence in architecture education, training and practice.
- NOMAS- The National Organization of Minority Architects was founded in 1971 by 12 African American architects who believed that minorities needed a voice in the profession. Through its student chapters NOMA establishes a connection that will enhance architecture design and studio culture in the academic arena. Our mission is to promote the continual strive for diversity and equality in the architecture profession through community engagements and professionalism, while equipping our members with the skills needed to be successful.
- Alpha Rho Chi- Founded in 1914 by eight architecture students at the University of Illinois, the Alpha Rho Chi fraternity (APX) is based on Fidelity and love of the arts. The Co-Ed fraternity seeks out students who wish to better themselves as professionals, designers and individuals. Alpha Rho Chi Polyidus Chapter at KSU sculpts leaders and future professionals.
Summer Design Workshop
The Summer Design Workshop is designed to offer students a transitional experience from high school or other degree programs to the Department of Architecture's B.ARCH program. The program is intended to help students integrate into studio culture and to introduce them to basic design concepts, tools, techniques and resources.
The program focuses on first-year success. Students spend two weeks listening to lectures on architecture and doing design studio work. Members of the three architectural student organizations, AIAS, Alpha Rho Chi and NOMAS provide peer mentoring in studio. Social events are offered exclusively to the Summer Design Workshop community. The program culminates in an exhibition and reception of student work in the Architecture Gallery on the final day of the workshop.
Please visit the Summer Design Workshop website for more information including dates schedules, registration, costs and housing.
Starting Your Professional Career
The Architecture Experience Project (AXP)
The Architectural Experience Program™ (AXP™) provides a framework to guide you through gaining and recording your professional experience. Developed by NCARB, the program is required by most U.S. jurisdictions and is a key step on the path to earning a license.
Through the AXP, you'll learn how to safely and competently handle the scenarios you'll face as an architect. With broad experience areas that reflect the current phases of practice, the program prepares you for everything from site design to project management.
You can find out more about the Architecture Experience Program, including how to start, experience required, how to record your experience, how to find and work with mentors and get the app, by visiting their site at NCARB.com
The Architecture Registration Exam (ARE)
The Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) is a multi-division exam used to assess your knowledge and skills regarding the practice of architecture. Developed by NCARB, the exam is accepted by all U.S. jurisdictions and is a key step on the path to earning a license.
The ARE is designed to assess aspects of architectural practice that affect the integrity, soundness, and health impact of a building. The exam also assesses an architect's responsibilities within firms, such as managing projects and coordinating the work of other professionals.
You can find out more about the Architecture Registration Exam (ARE) including format, content, how to study, and pass rates, by visiting their site at NCARB.com.
To practice architecture in the United States, you must have a license from a U.S. jurisdiction. The jurisdictions include the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each jurisdiction is responsible for regulating the practice of architecture within its borders. NCARB recommends and encourages national requirements for licensure by developing standards for the 54 licensing boards, which then issue licenses to applicants who meet their specific registration requirements.
You can find out more about Architecture Licensure including why it matters, how to get licensed, and info on state licensing boards by visiting their site at NCARB.com.
American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857 by 13 architects in the office of New York Architect Richard Upjohn, their goal was to form an organization to promote architects and architecture. The AIA, currently has over 260 chapters with 88,000 members worldwide. The AIA advocates for the value of architecture and gives architects the resources they need to do their best work. The organization's work drives positive change through the power of design.
You can find out more about the AIA, including advocacy and 'Where We Stand' statements, career advancement, listings of AIA members, events, hot topics and information on practice by visiting their site at aia.org.
Post your Resume + Search Jobs
Students and alumni can utilize Handshake, KSU's all-in-one career management system, post a resume and search for open positions.GET STARTED WITH HANDSHAKE
KSU Career Services
The Department of Career Planning & Development provides KSU students with advising, organizes career fairs and operates an online job posting board. For specific career services information for architecture students, please visit: careers.kennesaw.edu/acm.
CACM Career Services Advisor:
Department of Career Planning & Development
Building A, Suite 160
1100 South Marietta Pkwy SE
Marietta, GA 30060
Post a Job
Posting open positions through KSU's Department of Career Planning & Development's online job board, OwlLink, is the quickest and easiest way to begin recruiting with us.Post a Job on Handshake
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics estimates a 7% job growth for architects from 2014- 2024. This predication is consistent with national average for all career fields. The total number of jobs in the field as of 2016 was 128,800 with an anticipated change of 5,500 from 2016 to 2026. With a high number of students graduating with degrees in architecture, strong competition for internships and jobs is expected.
The median annual salary for the profession is $78,470 as of 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $47,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $134,610.
Architects are expected to be needed to make plans and designs for the construction and renovation of homes, offices, retail stores, and other structures. Many school districts and universities are expected to build new facilities or renovate existing ones. In addition, demand is expected for more healthcare facilities as the baby-boomer population ages and as more people use healthcare services.
Demand for architects with a knowledge of "green design," also called sustainable design, is expected to continue. Architects should be needed to design buildings and structures that efficiently use resources, such as energy and water conservation; reduce waste and pollution; and apply environmentally friendly design, specifications, and materials.