Qualifications for Architectural Studies
Architecture is a demanding profession requiring specialized skills and knowledge to practice safely and effectively. Knowledge and experience in a variety of areas make up the overall qualifications needed for an architecture career. Specialized universities and colleges offer degrees specifically designed for the field, but there are a variety of other qualifications and educational procedures that architects must obtain.
The most recognized university degrees in architecture are a Master of Architecture (MArch), a four-year bachelor’s degree in architecture, and a five-year post-professional Master of Architecture (MPA). The Architectural Experience Program (AXP) is also a recognized professional pathway that can be followed by architects, allowing them to gain experience while they get their license and qualifications. For those who wish to become licensed registered architects, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) requires candidates to complete a total of seven years of education, internships, and experience.
Architecture is a professional field and those looking to break into it must be certified to practice and offer services. An architecture degree offers the required foundation of knowledge and design skills. Most universities offer degree programs in architecture, ranging from two-year associate degrees to doctorate programs. Students should research their school’s curriculum to determine which degree is right for them.
A Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) is typically the first undergraduate degree required to become an architect. Most courses teach the basics of design and construction among related contemporary arts and humanities topics. A master’s degree in architecture is needed to practice professionally and to pursue advanced research topics. BArch and MArch degree programs have a similar curriculum, with the major difference being that MArch students specialize in specific areas of architectural design.
The professional degree program (PDP) is a common format for a three-year master’s in architecture, typically following after a bachelor’s degree in architecture. The PDP focuses on practice, as opposed to technical knowledge. While the PDP may eventually allow for some degree of practice, it does not specifically prepare an individual to become a licensed architect or interior designer.
The landscape architecture profession requires an inventive and versatile approach and it is no surprise that a formal degree in landscape architecture is generally the primary requirement for documentation in this field. The traditional programs typically take four years, although some schools offer five-year and even six-year programs.
Building and Engineering Pathway
Although having a degree in architecture can be helpful and often beneficial, it is not always necessary. Those interested in pursuing a career in architecture should consider taking a course such as engineering, technology, or construction management to supplement their existing qualifications. With these combined disciplines, individuals would have more comprehensive knowledge and a better understanding of the entire construction process.
Students can gain understanding of the building science involved, learn safety infrastructure and design techniques, and develop the right foundation for an architectural career. Those who pursue a career in the building and engineering pathway will be well-versed in building construction, engineering design, structural analysis, and materials science that will help them maintain current on the latest technologies and design trends.
Practical skills like carpentry, plumbing and welding are also invaluable for aspiring architects. Such hands-on knowledge will give them a better understanding of how the building works, its limitations, advantages and how it is built. This hands-on knowledge will help them better inform their opinions on design and the construction phase.
Business and Professional Experience
The practice of architecture is much more than just a technical field. Knowing the business side of architecture is just as important as the technical aspects. Having a basic understanding of the business regulations and an understanding of any business field is essential. Architects also need to have a good understanding of the laws related to the practice of architecture and the regulations related to the building codes.
Having some prior professional experience in the field can also be beneficial for aspiring architects. Professional experience prior to entering a degree program can help individuals gain insight into the field, and discover what it takes to succeed in the profession. In addition, professional experience can give applicants an advantage in getting accepted into a degree program, as universities often favor applicants with some prior experience.
It is also important for architects to build a portfolio demonstrating their design capabilities. The portfolio is what will prove the ability of the candidate to understand the functional and aesthetic qualities of the design. Portfolios are more important for some architects, such as those practicing in residential and commercial design, where aesthetics may be more important.
Other Qualifications and Experience
Architects also have to have an understanding of finance, economics, and project management. Architects must be able to create designs that are both aesthetically pleasing and meet the various budgetary constraints on a project. Knowing the basics of contract law and project management will help architects understand their rights and obligations on projects, and make sure that their clients are not left with a mess of damages and delays.
Finally, architects need to have an understanding of the history and theory of architecture. This is especially important for architects who practice in the public sector. Understanding the development of architectural styles and design principles from the past helps to inform the design process, and to ensure that the architect can create solutions that are appropriate for the context.
Data Analysis and Computers
Architects utilize a range of software programs to produce sketches and drawings. High-tech tools have enabled designers to use computers to render and visualize buildings, cut down on production time and to reduce projects costs. Architects must have a certain level of technical mastery to be able to work with these programs and to produce solutions that are both economical and aesthetically pleasing.
Data analysis is also becoming increasingly important for architects. An understanding of statistics, computer-aided design (CAD) software, and other data-driven solutions can help architects improve their efficiency and accuracy when designing buildings, and provide insight into the economic, social and environmental effects of their designs.
Creativity and Problem Solving
Creativity is essential for architects to develop designs that are unique and are tailored to the specific needs of the project. Ideas that out-of-the-box thinking, intellectual problem-solving, and a keen eye for detail are key skills for architects. Architects should also have the ability to communicate their ideas to clients and other stakeholders, by using their drawing and presentation skills, their technical knowledge, and their understanding of the context and situation of the project.
In conclusion, to become an architect, one needs a combination of both educational qualifications and practical experience. University degrees in architecture are the most recognized form of qualifications and they provide the necessary foundation. Architects must also possess technical, practical and creative skills and have an understanding of the industry, business and regulations related to the profession. With these qualifications, individuals can easily break into the field of architecture and become successful practitioners.