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How do I Become a Building Architect?

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  • Written By: Darlene Goodman
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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In order to become a building architect, an individual typically has to go through several stages of training and licensure. Most architects must complete a professional-level architecture program. This is often followed by several years of mandatory internship. Most countries require their architects to take an exam in order to gain an architecture license.

The steps to become a building architect are often stringent because architects must have a good understanding of aesthetics, building standards, and the public need for living spaces. The design of a building can be highly regulated. An architect should be aware of what is allowable, safe, and comfortable for people to live in and use. Some architects specialize in certain types of buildings, such as office spaces, apartment buildings, or hospitals.

The first step an individual should take to become a building architect is to get a professional degree. This degree may take different forms, based on the accreditation required by the country in which the student studies. In the United States, any professional architecture degree must be accredited by a national organization called the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Canada has an equivalent governing body, called the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB).

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There are three main ways to get an accredited architecture degree in the United States. First, a student may take a professional, five-year Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch.) degree. Second, a student may complete a four-year, non-professional Bachelor’s degree in architecture, combined with a two-year Master of Architecture (M. Arch.) program. The third way to earn an accredited degree is to obtain both a four-year Bachelor’s degree in another subject and a three- to four-year professional M. Arch. degree.

After five to eight years of education, a student will usually have earned a professional degree from an accredited program. Then, to become a building architect, this student typically must enter a three-year internship program. During this time, he or she often works as a salaried employee of an architecture firm and continues to learn the profession.

Following completion of such an internship, an architect-in-training usually takes the architecture licensure test. While not all countries require the same level of training to become a building architect that the United States does, most generally require architects to take a similar certification exam. This exam varies from country to country, and from state to state. In the United States, most state licensure boards adhere to the certification criteria established by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).

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