Studying architecture is an ambitious goal for many aspiring professionals, not just for the impressive end result but also because it requires several years of study and practice. Most colleges offer a four-year undergraduate architecture degree, along with a further two years for a Master of Architecture (MArch). But exactly how long does it take to become a licensed architect? That depends on the student and the college.
The undergraduate degree is the foundation for a career in architecture. Students typically take four years to complete the program, during which they must complete at least 120 credits, which are divided between coursework and required practices. Although most students major in architecture, they must also take courses in a wide range of academic subjects to additionally develop their skills. College-level architecture programs usually include studio-type learning, in which students work on smaller projects in an applied environment. In addition, some colleges may require architecture students to participate in professional networking events.
Professional Practice Programs
Even after completing the standard four-year degree, a student may need to participate in a professional practice program prior to being allowed to take the licensing exam. This is because licensing requirements vary from state to state, and many states require aspiring architects to gain experience in professional practice. These programs can be completed through a variety of methods, such as internships, apprenticeships, or specific courses. Some programs can also be done online.
Getting a license usually requires passing a licensing exam, which can take several months. Most states require aspiring professionals to take the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), which has nine divisions and a total of 18 modules. Moreover, the ARE is not once-and-done: some jurisdictions may require architects to go through the exam multiple times, depending on their areas of practice.
Continuing Education Requirements
Once a student has obtained a license, their journey doesn’t end there. Each state requires that architects maintain their licenses by completing a minimum number of hours in continuing education each year. The purpose of this is to make sure that licensed architects stay up to date on the latest trends in the field.
In sum, the process of becoming a licensed architect can take several years. After the four-year undergraduate degree, the student must then acquire additional experience in the field and pass a licensing exam. Finally, they must maintain their licenses by satisfying continuing education requirements. Although long and sometimes arduous, the process is a worthwhile endeavor for aspiring architects.
The Benefits of a Long-Term Study
Not only is a lengthy process necessary to become a licensed architect, but studying at length has other benefits as well. The most important is that it gives aspiring architects more time to refine their skills. Over the four years of their studies, students can put their knowledge to work in the studio-type settings, practice on large projects, and interact with experienced professionals through internships.
A lengthy process of study can also bring certain financial benefits, depending on the institution. For instance, some colleges may offer scholarships or tuition reimbursement plans to help reduce the overall costs of the program. Moreover, architecture professionals may be able to find higher paying jobs with incentives and bonuses for extensive experience.
When studying architecture, the process of studying can extend long after the four-year undergraduate program ends. Once they become professionals, architects must participate in continuing education, so the time devoted to learning never stops. To prevent burnout, aspiring and current architects should maintain a healthy work-life balance. This might involve taking short vacations, engaging in leisure activities, or taking courses that are not related to their specialty.
Gaining an Edge in the Field
Overall, a long-term process of study can help aspiring architects gain an edge in the field. It gives them the opportunity to refine their skills, improve their knowledge and craft, acquire new experience, and increase their earning potential. For anyone considering a career in architecture, knowing how long the process takes is just the beginning.