Job description: What does an architect do?
Whether public buildings, commercial buildings, or your own home: nothing works without an architect. Architects plan, design, and oversee the completion of buildings. With their work, they make a significant contribution to shaping our environment. The architect implements all of this according to the relevant specifications. Buildings have to meet various requirements. It is the task of an architect to build from a functional, building law, social, ecological, and aesthetic as well as financial point of view.
Many architects have traditionally approached planning with pencil and paper, and model making is also absolutely common. During the course, the various building materials are taken into account – the students learn to make their models in wood and concrete as well as to create metal structures.
Nowadays you cannot get around computer programs for generating geometric models in this profession. Working with various CAD programs such as Archicad should be a matter of course.
An architect should have the following skills:
A large part of the work includes organizing and planning – if the preparatory work is good, the building usually goes without major difficulties. Often your area of responsibility includes not only the design and cost calculation but also the construction management and thus the construction.
As an architect, teamwork is very important, because the preliminary work includes the collaboration and coordination of various professions:
- Civil engineer
- Energy planner
- Utility engineer
- Specialists from various trades
To ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible, regular checks are also required to ensure that all those involved adhere to the specifications and that the work is carried out according to the plan. The control and assessment are primarily one of your tasks, for example, if you are called in as an appraiser for objects that have already been built and are to analyze and document the current condition or any defects.
As an architect, you should also have a good level of persuasiveness and communication skills, because the acquisition is also part of the job description. Urban, communal and larger buildings are tendered to the public. Architects’ offices then apply to be awarded the contract.
Education: how do you become an architect?
Architecture can be studied at technical colleges, universities, and art colleges. The focus is always different: while at the university of applied sciences the focus is on building, at the university the emphasis is on theory. Art colleges, on the other hand, take an artistic approach.
The architecture degree covers six semesters up to the Bachelor’s degree. The four-semester Masters builds on this. If you are not planning to be self-employed, you can start with the qualifications after the Bachelor’s in an architecture office as an employee.
Since the Bachelor only conveys the basics of a basic course, it makes sense to base the Master on it. Only after the full ten semesters can graduates not only describe themselves as architects but are also allowed to run an architecture office.
The content of the course always has a practical and a theoretical part. Students gain knowledge about:
- Architectural theory
- Building construction
- Building physics
- Building materials science
- History of construction
- Building technology
- Landscape planning
- Urban planning
The architecture course is not just geared towards individual buildings, because your work as an architect affects the overall picture. The course also means that prospective architects learn how individual settlements and districts are planned.
What else do you need? A pronounced mathematical and technical understanding is always beneficial for studying architecture. In contrast to the civil engineer, the architect also has the design element.
An architect should have spatial awareness, even though computer software supports visualization to a much greater extent than was previously possible.
Salary: How much does an architect make?
Region, industry, and company size all affect the salary. Also, of course, professional experience. It also makes a difference whether you work in the public sector or the private sector.
Map of architect salaries
The darker areas on the map show where architects earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.
- Median Annual Salary: $79,380 ($3816/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: $138,120 ($66.40/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $48,020 ($23.09/hour)
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Career: opportunities and prospects as an architect?
The craft is one thing. As an architect, you are often expected to be nothing less than a visionary. You should design something completely different that has never been there before – an exaggerated claim, of course.
Every inspiration feeds from what is already there and personal preferences should also flow into it – otherwise not so many buildings would be assigned to their creators. And the desire to put your very own stamp on it should also play a not insignificant role. After all, these buildings shaped the cityscape for a considerable time.
The extent to which self-realization as an architect is possible naturally depends on the client and the budget.
The construction industry is currently booming, which is why architects are in demand. In times of construction freeze, the demand from architects logically falls, which in turn affects salaries.
The following industries are open to you as an architect:
- Architecture and engineering offices
- Building authorities
- Construction industry
- Real estate companies
- Housing associations
As in any profession, changes due to technical progress can also be expected here, the planning software mentioned above is just one example. Architects should therefore consider possible adaptation training to keep an eye on trends, residential, and building concepts.
Also, a scientific career is always possible. This usually requires a doctorate first (for example in architecture, interior design or construction management, construction management).
Application as an architect: tips, formulations, template
For a successful application, you need an attractive cover letter in which you describe the required qualifications and priorities, as well as a resume and your attachments.
When posting a job, special attention must always be paid to which requirements are unavoidable – mostly relating to specific training or degree – and which are desirable.
Also make sure that you demonstrate the desired requirements with examples from your occupation, for example as follows:
I have proven my organizational and leadership skills several times over the past three years. My current tasks include responsible planning coordination and implementation monitoring.
Below we provide you with a sample that shows what a resume and cover letter for an application as an architect could look like. This an architect resume template should need to be tailored to your needs.