Turn Your Architecture Hobby into a Career|Turn Your Architecture Hobby into a Career

Turn Your Architecture Hobby into a Career

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Architects design houses, buildings, landscapes, and even whole cities. Industrial designers make the products we use every day. To become licensed professionals, architects must pass national exams after earning their college degrees. If you have a passion for organizing spaces, building things, and improving communities, architecture and industrial design allow unlimited use of your creativity.

Building Your Architecture Career
Although many people think architecture only involves designing buildings, a variety of career paths are possible. Career training in architecture and industrial design can prepare you to work as an architectural historian, draftsperson, urban planner, mechanical engineer, or building inspector. If you feel more connection with outdoor spaces, consider training as a landscape architect, learning to design gardens, parks and other outdoor spaces that harmonize with their surroundings. And if you prefer designing something more portable, consider an industrial design degree.

Career Training in Architecture & Industrial Design
Most states require licensed architects to have a professional degree from an accredited art or design school. Common degree programs include:
  • Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.), a five-year first professional degree
  • Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design
  • Two-year professional degree (bachelor's degree is required)
  • Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in architecture
Coursework includes the arts and humanities, as well as physical sciences and math. Architects also need to have strong writing, speaking, and freehand drawing skills. Many architects and industrial designers today are also trained in the use of AutoCAD, a computer-aided design program that makes it easier to create blueprints and other design documents.

Getting Licensed as an Architect
If you enroll in an architecture program, you'll likely need to complete an internship to graduate. This will help you build a portfolio of work and get experience to put on your resume. Furthermore, before architects can take the licensing exam, they may have to complete a three-year period of work experience or apprenticeship. Many states also require architects to take continuing education courses to renew their licenses. Some architecture firms will pay for employees' continuing education.

Industrial designers typically do not need to be licensed; they work with a wide variety of professionals, from engineers to accountants, and should have broad design experience.

Architecture & Industrial Design Job Outlook
As an architect or industrial designer, you'll have the potential to earn a good income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), architects earned a median salary of $64,150 in 2006. Industrial designers earned approximately $54,560.

Architecture is a very competitive field, especially for jobs at the top firms. But employment opportunities are expected to grow 18 percent through 2016, according to the BLS. That's because of an ongoing need for new buildings and other structures, as well as the need to replace retiring architects. If want to be self-employed, architecture and industrial design are good choices; 20 percent of architects and 30 percent of industrial designers choose that path.

Team Players
Ultimately, architects must be team players, synthesizing input from clients, engineers, urban planners, and even government officials. Architects may need to explain their plans to construction contractors, interior designers, and clients. When creating plans, architects may have to conduct environmental impact studies, and study building codes, zoning laws, fire regulations, and other ordinances. If you work as an architect, you'll spend much of your time working in an office, but may have to visit construction sites, too.

Architects need to be able to handle the small details as well as the broader picture. You'll also need to be good at multitasking and have strong organizational skills. But ultimately, if you have a vision to help develop functional spaces, safer streets, cleaner environments, and better communities, you may be a good candidate for an architecture career.

Sources
American Institute of Architects
Bureau of Labor Statistics

About the Author
Francine L. Huff is a freelance journalist and the author of The 25-Day Financial Makeover: A Practical Guide for Women. She has appeared on a variety of TV and radio shows.

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