Architecture : Careers

Career Information and Further Study

Opportunities open to students graduating with a preprofessional bachelor of science in architecture degree (not requiring state architecture licensure) include facilities planning and design; property management; graphic, interior, or industrial design; urban planning and design; historic preservation; real estate development; engineering technology; construction management; and computer-aided design. Students have also obtained positions with public agencies and development firms, and have worked as paraprofessionals with both small and large architectural offices. Many of these alternatives do not require architectural licensure, but may require additional training or certification.

Most students completing the accredited first professional master of architecture degree become licensed architects who practice in architectural firms, pubic/governmental agencies, or corporations. Common practice roles within an architectural team include design, project management, facilities planning, site planning and design, structural design, technical research and specifications, document production, contract administration, urban planning and design, interior design, marketing, and project finance.

The architecture profession offers the flexibility to practice in either a broad or narrow range of expertise. For example, some architects focus on residential work, designing new houses or planning the renovation of older ones. Others focus on design and construction of factories and laboratories, retail stores or schools. Still others pursue careers as project managers or structural designers. Architects often design products other than buildings; many design commercial and/or consumer products.

Employment of architects is strongly tied to the activity of the construction industry. Strong growth is expected to come from nonresidential construction as demand for commercial space increases. Current demographic trends also support an increase in demand for architects. As the population continues to live longer and baby-boomers begin to retire there will be a need for more healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and retirement communities. In education, buildings at all levels are getting older and class sizes are getting larger. This will require many school districts and universities to build new facilities and renovate existing ones.

Skills gained in this program include:
  • Researching, analyzing, and interpreting information (which is often highly technical) during project work
  • Verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to give presentations to clients
  • Ability to conceptualize and understand spatial relationships
  • Project management, focusing on knowledge of materials, resources, personnel, and logistics
  • The ability to define and address complex problems
  • An awareness of the multifaceted circumstances surrounding a project, including cultural influences, environmental, social, and political concerns
  • Understanding the importance of combining aesthetics with utility
  • Assessment of a wide variety of facilities
  • Knowledge and awareness of the construction industry
  • Negotiation with vendors and clients
  • Design skills, including the ability to visually communicate ideas to others
  • Creativity when addressing complex problems
  • Computer skills, most specifically computer-aided design (CAD), word processing, spreadsheets, and project management software


Architectural Licensing and Registration.
To become a registered architect, an individual is required to sit for a state-licensing architecture exam. The current licensure policy in the State of New York is based, in combination, on the accumulation of credits earned from:

a. Academic education; and,
b. Professional/intern development experience.

Licensing evaluations are conducted in New York by the State Education Department's Office of the Professions. Licensing information related to architecture is also available on the New York State Education Department's Web site at http://www.ncarb.org/ or the American Institute of Architects Web site at http://www.aia.org/.

After completing the on-the-job training period, intern architects are eligible to sit for the state-licensing architecture exam. The examination tests candidates' knowledge, skills, and ability to provide the various services required in the design and construction of structures. Licensing examinations are offered in New York by the State Education Department's Office of the Professions.

At present, a candidate can sit for the New York State licensing exam with:

1. The accredited first professional degree in architecture (UB's master of architecture) and a minimum of three years of professional intern development experience; or,
2. A preprofessional architecture degree (UB's bachelor of science in architecture) and a minimum of five years of professional intern development experience.

The New York State architect license, in combination with the preprofessional bachelor of science in architecture, will not transfer to most other states. Without the accredited first professional master of architecture degree, an individual may not be permitted to sit for the licensure exam or practice in other states. In addition, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) requires an accredited professional master of architecture degree for membership certification and license reciprocity. A growing number of architects voluntarily seek certification by NCARB, which can facilitate an individual's licensing to practice in additional states. According to 2007 US Department of Labor data, approximately one-third of all licensed architects had NCARB certification. Architects find it increasingly necessary for NCARB certification to gain license reciprocity in order to compete for the best jobs and projects in other States. Certification is awarded after independent verification of the candidate's educational transcripts, employment record, and professional references. NCARB certification is the primary requirement for reciprocity of licensing among State Boards that are NCARB members. Nationally, the preferred method for licensure is to complete an accredited professional master of architecture degree program. For licensing information related to architecture, visit the New York State Education Department Web site at www.op.nysed.gov/arch.htm. For information on the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), visit www.ncarb.org/. For membership information on the American Institute of Architects (AIA), visit www.aia.org/.

After becoming licensed and gaining experience, architects take on increasingly responsible duties, eventually managing entire projects. In large firms, architects may advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Some architects become partners in established firms, while others set up their own practices. Graduates with degrees in architecture also enter related fields, such as graphic, interior, or industrial design; urban planning and design; real estate development; engineering technology; and construction management.

Career Choices
  • Acoustical designer
  • Architect
  • CAD operator
  • Construction manager
  • Construction sales
  • Consultant
  • Contract administrator
  • Curator
  • Designer
  • Drafter
  • Engineering technology
  • Environmental design
  • Environmental researcher
  • Facility manager
  • Historian
  • Interior designer
  • Landscape architect
  • Lighting designer
  • Lobbyist
  • Materials manager
  • Museum technician
  • Preservationist
  • Professor
  • Project designer
  • Project or site manager
  • Real estate developer
  • Set designer
  • Site planner/designer
  • Urban/community planner
  • Writer/critic

Work settings include:
  • Building material manufacturers
  • Colleges and universities
  • Computer representation/modeling firms
  • Contractors
  • Corporations
  • Design firms
  • Engineering firms
  • Facility management
  • Historical/preservation associations
  • Law Firms
  • Museums and art galleries
  • Property management firms
  • Public and private architecture practice
  • Real estate companies
  • Research institutions
  • Stadiums/performance halls
  • Urban/community planning agencies


Salary Information

Salaries range greatly from one occupation, position, and work setting to another. Upon completing an accredited professional master of architecture degree, individuals are required to work full time as a professional intern architect for a minimum three years before earning eligibility to take the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). A 2005 study by the American Institute of Architects found the median compensation, including bonuses, for intern architects in architectural firms was ,530. Those just starting as intern architects may earn considerably less. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's 2007 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual earnings of wage and salary architects were ,300. The middle 50 percent earned between ,690 and ,230. The lowest 10 percent earned less than ,060, and the highest 10 percent earned more than ,800. Earnings of partners in established architectural firms may fluctuate because of changing business and market conditions. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor's Web site at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos038.htm for additional career information related to Architecture.

Postbaccalaureate Opportunities

While the Department of Architecture does not formally track students, over 60% of students at the undergraduate level continue to pursue architecture at the graduate level. Of those students attending accredited professional master's programs, over 80% pursue a career in architecture or a design-related profession.

Postbaccalaureate educational options at UB include the opportunity for application to the accredited professional Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) or the accredited professional Master of Urban Planning (M.U.P.) degrees. Additional postbaccalaureate programs include a dual Master of Architecture plus Master of Urban Planning (M.Arch. + M.U.P.), a dual Master of Architecture plus Master of Business Administration (M.Arch. + M.B.A.), and a dual Master of Architecture plus Master of Fine Arts in Media Arts Production (M.Arch. + M.F.A.). Contact the School of Architecture and Planning for graduate application information.

Additional Resources

Updated: 13 Nov 2012 06:00:17 EST