How to Become an Architect

To become an architect, a student will need to complete a degree from an architecture program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), complete an internship and pass the Architect Registration Examination.


All fifty states require that a professional architect graduate from a recognized architecture degree program, as well as pass an architect certification examination, usually the Architect Registration Examination.

Certification with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) requires the prospective member to graduate from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), though some state boards of architecture may accept graduation from a program that is not accredited by NAAB.

Graduating from a NAAB program and following the licensing guidelines established by AIA will help an architect if they plan to move to another state, or country.


According to College Navigator, there are almost three hundred architecture programs in the US. Out of that number, approximately two hundred and twenty are four year degree programs and one hundred and forty offer advanced degree programs. There are also certificates and associate’s degrees, which usually take approximately two years of full time study to complete...

Programs accredited by the NAAB are listed on their website. The ACSA Guide to Architecture School website provides a regional map which lists schools by program type, as well as offering guidelines for selecting an architecture school and giving advice on how to get into architecture school.

Tips and Advice

Take math and physics courses. Architects are concerned with structures, support, acoustics, lighting, electricity, in addition to other components that create a structure, and high school math and physics provide basic introductions to these topics. It is not necessary to take advanced placement classes, but ask your teachers if you can create projects or work on assignments that are relevant to the field of architecture.

Develop your art and sketching skills. Most architects are also experienced line drawing artists. If you cannot take an art class in your high school, try to take a line drawing class at local community college or adult education center. Add daily sketching and drawing, especially architectural features, to your schedule to practice and begin to collect your better drawings. The better drawings can be added to your portfolio and replaced as your skills mature.

Join the American Institute of Architecture Students. High school and college students can join the American Institute of Architecture Students. This association holds conferences, provides job search advice, advice on selecting schools, creating a portfolio and finding internships.


Most architects work in small firms or are self-employed. Architects can find work with engineering firms, government agencies, become writers, artists, designers and theorists, as well as assist in structural design and urban planning. Some architects will also specialize in building specific structures such as concert halls and theaters.

Many architects are also "greening" their profession by focusing on creating sustainable structures and integrating alternative energy and light sources into their buildings. There are also opportunities to work abroad, as well as work on special projects, such as Olympic facilities.