How to Become an Architect/Designer?

Are you thinking of becoming an Architect/Designer or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become an Architect/Designer, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Architect/Designer job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.
"Architect" was the nearest match for you query "Architect/Designer".

Steps to Become an Architect

Architects are responsible for planning, developing, and implementing designs for buildings and other structures. While a quality education is an absolute must, successful architects have skills that you can't learn in the classroom, including communication, organization, and critical thinking. You should also be enthusiastic about educating clients and be willing to work extra hours to meet deadlines. The following steps are necessary to become an architect.

Pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture.

Most provincial/territorial architecture associations require you to complete a minimum five-year Bachelor's Degree in Architecture or the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Syllabus program if you want to work as an architect. Your degree program must have accreditation from the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB). You can expect your coursework to include building systems, project management, and environmental planning.


Participate in architecture competitions.

As you complete your degree, consider participating in student architecture competitions. Many of these competitions are held under the auspices of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Participation in a competition gives you practical experience and looks good on your resume, especially if you win an award. You'll also receive valuable feedback from industry experts, and you can add your competition designs to your portfolio.


Apply for an internship.

While many professions make internships optional, all states require architecture students and recent graduates to complete an architectural internship before applying for an architecture licence. You can apply for an internship with a licensed architect after graduation from a program accredited by the CACB. As an intern, you'll gain experience in pre-design, design, project management, and practice management. Specific responsibilities include maintaining project files, researching zoning laws, and preparing presentations.


Study for the examination.

As you complete your internship, you should also start studying for the exam you must pass to earn your licence to practise architecture. The Canadian exam is the Examination for Architects in Canada (ExAC), but in some provinces both the ExAC and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards Architect Registration Examination (NCARB ARE) are offered. You can obtain study materials, test schedules, and testing locations from the ExAC website or the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.


Take the examination.

After you complete your three years of training, you can sit for the ExAC or the NCARB ARE. The ExAC is a pass/fail test. If you do not pass all sections of the exam, you will have two more opportunities to rewrite all the failed sections. After that you will have to rewrite the entire exam. To pass the NCARP ARE, you have to score at least 67% in all seven sections. If you don't pass on your first attempt, you can retake the test 60 days after your first test date. Some provincial or territorial associations may have additional requirements before you can obtain your licence to practise architecture.


Apply for positions with architectural firms.

In many cases, the firm you complete your internship with will offer you a permanent position after you get your licence. However, if that's not the case or if you need a change of scenery, it's time to start applying for architect jobs at other firms.

Architect/Designer Career Path


2 - 4Years of Experience
$50K - $83K /yrAvg. Annual Salary
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31% advanced to

Senior Architect

2 - 4Years of Experience
$83K - $128K /yrAvg. Annual Salary
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Architect IV

5 - 7Years of Experience
$87K - $141K /yrAvg. Annual Salary
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Salary Trajectory

Architect/Designer Career Path

Architect I
Senior Architect
Architect IV
Principal Architect
Senior Principal Architect
Associate Director of Architecture
Distinguished Architect
Director of Applications Engineering
Vice President of Architecture
Chief Architect
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Related careers in the Arts & Design Industry

Interested in other Arts & Design careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Architect/Designer skills. Discover some of the most common Architect/Designer career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Architectural Drafter
0% skills overlap
7% transitioned to Architectural Drafter