Architects design spaces – homes, office buildings, sports arenas, shelters. Therefore Architecture majors learn all the skills necessary to design spaces. Typically a bachelor’s degree in Architecture is a 5-year program, and is all that’s required to eventually work as an architect (an internship period of about three years and licensure by passing a federal exam are also necessary). A master’s degree in Architecture (normally a 2-year program if your undergrad is in Architecture and a 3-4 year program if it’s not) gives you the option of teaching, but still requires internship and licensure to become a full-pledged architect.
Architecture majors are creative and innovative, but also good at sticking to the rules. They are good with other people, and they don’t mind working long hours and late nights. Different from Engineering majors (who like to take things apart), they like to put things together.
Architecture majors draw a lot. While you’ll take plenty of other classes, you’ll feel like you live in your studio class – the course where you take ideas and draw out designs and then build corresponding models. It helps to be artistic, but it’s even more important to be precise and detail-oriented. Architecture majors spend a lot of time working on computers, even more time working with their hands building models, and round off their time presenting their completed projects to harsh critics – their professors.
Gingerbread houses don’t have to be your “thing,” but if you can’t construct a cookies-and-candy cottage to save your life you may not have the ingenuity and passion you’ll need to design other structures.
As an Architecture major you’ll learn about all kinds of things you wouldn’t think you’d need to know about. For example, you’ll spend an entire semester studying cement and similar materials – architects don’t just draw up building ideas, they determine what materials will be used. You’ll get plenty of first-hand experience with the computer design programs, or CAD. You’ll study different eras of architecture and try to emulate them in more modern designs.
This is one of those majors where you don’t really stray from the fold – Architecture majors become architects. That means you’ll want to be certain it’s what you want to do before fully committing to the program. If three years into the degree you decide you want to do something else, chances of transferring to your new degree as a junior are slim. But if you’re committed and complete the Architecture degree, then serve your time as an intern and pass your licensure exams, you’ll be all set to start designing buildings. Architects often work as partners in established firms, though some open their own practices. You can expect to spend a good slate of time designing as part of a team, but once you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt you’ll be free to head up a team or design on your own.
There are only about 120 accredited Architecture programs in the United States, and it’s mad competition to get in. You’ll want to do all the basics for getting in to college times ten – super good grades, lots of extracurricular activities, leadership opportunities – anything that could impress a college admissions board. Do especially well in your Calculus classes and, if your high school offers it, take a course in computer design programs like CAD.
Before being licensed as an architect you’ll need to spend about three years in an internship. You can get a head start on some of that internship time while still in school, plus the practical experience will help you with your education. Your ability to put in long hours and create sound but appealing structures will be key, but if you can’t present your work well you’re dead.