Undergraduate Degree & Course Catalog

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
  • set design
  • 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. See Career Services for more information.

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. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment of architects is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, the average for all occupations. 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.
All states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) require individuals to be licensed (registered) before they may call themselves architects or contract to provide architectural services. Many architecture school graduates work in the field even though they are not licensed or while they are in the process of becoming licensed. But they may not call themselves an architect.

All of NCARB's 54 U.S. jurisdictions have an experience requirement that must be documented and completed before one becomes licensed. This time between fulfilling the education requirement and getting licensed is referred to as an architectural internship. NCARB's Intern Development Program (IDP) guides aspiring architects through this process and is the standard accepted means of completing the experience requirement in almost all U.S. jurisdictions.

Interns in architectural firms may help design part of a project. They may help prepare architectural documents and drawings, build models, and prepare construction drawings on CAD. Interns also may research building codes and write specifications for building materials, installation criteria, the quality of finishes, and other related details.

After completing the on-the-job training period, intern architects are eligible to sit for the state-licensing architecture exam. The Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) assesses candidates for their knowledge, skills, and ability to provide the various services required in the practice of architecture. The ARE has been adopted for use by all 54 U.S. Member Boards and the Canadian provincial and territorial architectural associations as a registration examination required for architectural registration. For more information on the ARE®, visit NCARB. Licensing examinations are offered in New York by the State Education Department's Office of the Professions.

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 NAAB accredited professional Master of Architecture degree, an individual may not be permitted to sit for the licensure exam or practice in at least 35 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 2014-2015 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.

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 technologist
  • Environmental designer
  • Environmental researcher
  • Facility manager
  • Historian
  • Interior designer
  • Landscape designer
  • 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:
  • Architecture firms
  • Architecture/design firms
  • Architecture/urban planning/engineering firms
  • Building material manufacturers
  • Colleges and universities
  • Computer representation/modeling firms
  • Construction Management
  • Contractors
  • Corporations
  • Environmental management firms
  • Facility management
  • Federal government agencies
  • Historical/preservation associations
  • Law Firms
  • Museums and art galleries
  • Property management firms
  • Public and private architecture practice
  • Real estate development corporations
  • Research institutions
  • Stadiums/performance halls
  • State government 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). According to the U.S. Department of Labor's 2014-2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual earnings of wage and salary for architects was ,090 per year. 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 ,600, and the top 10 percent earned more than 8,230. Earnings of partners in established architectural firms may fluctuate because of changing business and market conditions. Many firms pay tuition and fees toward continuing education requirements for their employees. About 1 in 5 architects were self-employed in 2014.

Nearly all architects work full time. Many work more than 50 hours per week. Self-employed architects may have more flexible work hours. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor website for additional career information related to Architecture.

Post-baccalaureate Opportunities
Post-baccalaureate 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 post-baccalaureate 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.). In conjunction with University at Buffalo Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo Architecture offers SUNY's only advanced graduate certificate (Adv Crt) in historic preservation, and a joint proposal for a MS Arch real estate development concentration is awaiting final approval from SUNY and the NYS Education Department. Contact the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning for graduate admissions information .

Additional Resources

Last updated: February 22 2022 21:08:39