Education and Training Requirements

High School

To prepare for this career while in high school, take a college preparatory program that includes courses in English, mathematics, physics, art (especially freehand drawing), computer-aided design, social studies, history, and foreign languages. Courses in business also will be useful.

Postsecondary Training

Because most state architecture registration boards require a professional degree, high school students are advised, early in their senior year, to apply for admission to one of the 176 professional programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. Competition to enter these programs is high. Grades, class rank, and aptitude and achievement scores count heavily in determining who will be accepted.

Most schools of architecture offer degrees through either a five-year bachelor's program or a three- or four-year master's program. The majority of architecture students seek out the bachelor's degree in architecture, going from high school directly into a five-year program. Though this is the fastest route, you should be certain that you want to study architecture. Because the programs are so specialized, it is difficult to transfer to another field of study if you change your mind. The master's degree option allows for more flexibility but takes longer to complete. In this case, students first earn a liberal arts degree then continue their training by completing a master's program in architecture.  Visit Study Architecture ( for information and resources to plan your education.

A typical college architecture program includes courses in architectural history and theory, the technical and legal aspects of building design, science, computer-aided design techniques, and liberal arts.

Other Education or Training

The American Institute of Architects offers lectures, workshops, seminars, online courses, and other continuing education opportunities. Contact the institute for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

All states and the District of Columbia require that individuals be licensed before contracting to provide architectural services in that particular state. Though many work in the field without licensure, only licensed architects are required to take legal responsibility for all work. Using a licensed architect for a project is, therefore, less risky than using an unlicensed one. Architects who are licensed usually take on projects with larger responsibilities and have greater chances to advance to managerial or executive positions.

The requirements for registration include graduation from an accredited school of architecture and three years of practical experience through an internship with a licensed architect. After these requirements are met, individuals can take the rigorous Architect Registration Examination. Some states require architects to maintain their licensing through continued education. These individuals may complete a certain number of credits every year or two through seminars, workshops, university classes, self-study courses, or other sources.

In addition to becoming licensed, a growing number of architects choose to obtain certification from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. If an architect plans to work in more than one state, obtaining this certification can make it easier to become licensed in different states.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

New graduates typically work for three years as interns before sitting for the licensing exam. In addition, architecture students can obtain experience by participating in summer internships and part-time jobs. 

If you are interested in architecture, you should be intelligent, observant, responsible, and self-disciplined. You should have a concern for detail and accuracy, be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing, and be able to accept criticism constructively. Although great artistic ability is not necessary, you should be able to visualize spatial relationships and have the capacity to solve technical problems. Mathematical ability is also important, as are strong computer skills, particularly in the use of computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software. In addition, you should possess organizational skills and leadership qualities and be able to work well with others.