Professional architects are problem solvers who use creativity and innovation to design just about every building and public space that people encounter. It’s a prestigious career, and therefore one that requires many years of serious study and training.
If you are considering a career as an architect, read on for more information on the degrees available, how to become licensed, and how to protect yourself on the job.
Architecture programs in the United States
There are two options for getting an architecture degree that can lead to becoming a licensed architect:
- Arch – This is a 5-year undergraduate degree.
- Arch – This is a post-college master’s program that typically takes two to three years to complete.
Before pursuing either type of degree, you should check that an architecture program is accredited by National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Otherwise, you may need to complete further education to become a licensed architect.
There are many bachelor of science, bachelor of arts, and bachelor of fine arts programs that do not have NAAB approval. While these programs cannot directly lead you into a career in architecture, they are an option for students who are unsure if this is the career path for them. If they later decide it is, they will need to complete an M.Arch program to become licensed.
Do I need a special license to work as an architect?
A college degree alone is not enough to become an architect in the United States. You will also need to get a license to be considered fully qualified.
The steps for obtaining an architecture license vary from state to state. However, you will generally need to complete the following steps after earning your architecture degree:
- Gain and document on-the-job experience – You must complete a minimum of 3,740 hours of work experience through the Architectural Experience Program. These hours cover six areas essential to the work of an architect. At least half of these hours must be supervised by a qualified architect.
- Pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) – The ARE is a six-part test covering the knowledge and skills needed to become an architect. Passing this test is required in all states.
- Complete any extra requirements – Some states set additional requirements to become a licensed architect. These may include extra work experience hours or passing a supplemental state exam.
Once these steps are completed and your records have been transferred to the appropriate local licensing board, you can become a licensed architect in your state.
Additionally, architects may also need a business license to work in many states. This is typically the case if you are planning to start your own architectural firm or work as a freelancer. Your state government website will have more details on who needs a business license and how to apply for one.
What architects do on the job?
When people think about architects, they likely imagine someone drafting blueprints, building scale models, or completing renderings of buildings. This is part of an architect’s job, but there is more to the career than that.
Architects are problem solvers and innovators. They use their knowledge and skill to bring creative solutions to the projects they work on.
They must also be good at working within a team. Even if you are a one-person firm or freelance architect, you will likely need to collaborate with clients and other people on each project. Architects often work alongside builders, structural engineers, city planners, interior designers and people in other related occupations.
Many architects specialize in one or two types of architecture, rather than trying to be an expert in everything. Areas of focus include commercial properties, residential homes, sustainable architecture, industrial spaces, landscape architecture, conservation of historical properties, and city planning, among others.
Professional Liability insurance for architects
Regardless of your architectural niche, you may want to consider Professional Liability insurance for architects to help protect you on the job.
Also known as Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance, this type of policy protects your business against claims of negligence, misrepresentations, or mistakes. Professional Liability claims are typically made by clients who allege some form of financial damage as a result of your services, products or employees.
Professional Liability for architects helps shield you against common claims and lawsuits that you may face in the architectural field. A tiny mistake in your work or a missed deadline could result in a financial loss for a client. If this happens, you could be found liable and be ordered to compensate them. Professional Liability insurance covers these expenses, so you don’t need to dip into your business (or personal) savings to do so.
If you’re interested in Professional Liability for architects, BizInsure can help. Learn more and start receiving free quotes from top insurers across the country!