How to Become a Corporate Architect
Corporate architects design structures for everyday life and mass use, such as malls, chain restaurants, and office facilities. Comfort and function are crucial elements for a corporate architect to consider. If you're passionate about designing large, highly visible spaces and if you’d describe yourself as analytical and creative, then working as a corporate architect could be your dream career! Complete your education, finish an internship, obtain your license, and get some experience to kickstart your career as a corporate architect.
Completing Your Education
Work hard in math, physics, and art classes in high school.These subjects will give you a solid foundation for your architecture courses in college. They'll also give you an idea of the skills required to become an architect and help you determine if this career path is for you.
- If your school offers them, you should also take classes in design and drafting to help familiarize yourself with core concepts of architecture.
Complete a Bachelor’s degree at an accredited program.Your Bachelor’s degree should, preferably, be in architecture. You can also complete a degree in a related field of study, such as architectural history or construction management, before completing your Master’s degree in architecture. This degree will typically take four years to complete.
Take courses that will help you round out your degree.Your main architecture courses will involve architectural history and theory, building and construction, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), and various art classes such as sketching and sculpting.However, you should also take classes that will round out your skill set, such as writing, communication, and a foreign language.
Apply to a Master of Architecture program.Most companies and corporate firms require a Master’s degree, so this part of your education is especially important. This degree is more advanced than a bachelors and will more highly qualify you for potential jobs. Depending on your previous education and experience, your Master’s could take between one to four years to complete.</ref>
- Some colleges require a GRE score, while others don’t. Make sure to check the application guidelines for the schools you plan on applying to.
- For example, with a pre-professional undergraduate degree in architecture, you could earn your Master’s in architecture in two years.
- You could earn your Master’s in three years if you have a bachelor's degree in another field.
- If you’ve already completed a Bachelor’s degree in architecture, you can generally complete a Master's program in one year.
Make your school projects reflect your best work.The work you do in school will be the work that gets you your first job. Many corporate firms will hire based on your grades and portfolio as well as how competitive your university was.
- For aspiring corporate architects, it’s important to complete some corporate projects to show potential and build experience. Focus your advanced projects on designing malls, corporate centers, and public facilities.
- Develop relationships with your teachers and classmates, and stay in touch with them after you graduate. A strong network is important to have both for support and connections later in your career.
Obtaining Your License
Complete a three-year paid internship.Your internship will be professionally administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. You will work with a licensed architect and help design projects, build models, prepare CADD drawings and write specs.
- Be prepared to work as an apprentice or intern for a few years before becoming licensed as an architect. Most states require a work history of one to five years before sitting for certification.
- The best way to find an internship is by word-of-mouth—ask professors, fellow students, and other people in your network if they know of any openings.
- If you don’t have a wide network, research the firms you’re interested in and be persistent about your application. Follow up until you hear back.
Pass the Architect Registration Exam (ARE).After completing your internship and schooling, you’ll take the multidivisional test that takes you one step closer to getting your license.The exam is computer-based. You’ll take each division of the test at a different test center, then wait for your pass or fail score.
- This test is adopted by the U.S. and several U.S. territories.
- The test assesses your abilities in project management, programming and analysis, project planning, and construction.The test ensures that you’re ready to start working independently.
- You can prepare for the test with study groups or self-study with books or online materials.
Apply for your architecture license.Each state has a different application process, so make sure to research your state’s guidelines. You will most likely need to pay a fee to apply. After verifying that you meet the requirements for education, experience, and examination, you will receive your license. This will allow you to practice architecture within your state.
Maintain your license with a fee and through continuing education.In most states, architects must either pay a fee or attend classes, conferences and workshops to keep their license active. Look for opportunities that will provide licenses and certifications by staying active in the architecture community, reading and researching trends, and joining professional associations for architects.
Finding Work as a Corporate Architect
Set goals for your career growth.Set goals and stay on track. Think about what kind of projects would you like to take on and where you want to be, career-wise, in ten years.
- If you currently work in a different area of architecture but want to move into corporate, make steps toward your goal.
- Try to get involved with any commercial or corporate projects that your firm may be working on.
- Become specialized at commercial design instead of residential if your firm does both types of work.
Look beyond the corporate world for work when starting out.You don’t have to start with corporate work to gain experience. In fact, expanding your search to home builders and local architecture firms can help broaden your range of expertise and allow you to gain more diverse experience.
- These jobs will also let you practice what you’ve learned on a smaller scale before advancing to corporate architecture.
Stay up-to-date on corporate building standards.Keep yourself informed and knowledgeable on corporate architecture. This will give you an edge when applying for a job at a corporate firm.
- To stay current, join groups and professional associations for architects. Do volunteer work. Read magazines and books about news and trends in corporate architecture.
- Some popular associations include the American Architectural Foundation, a nonprofit that works to connect architects with their local communities, and the American Institute of Architects, which focuses on connecting professional architects. Go on the association’s website to join and start enjoying membership benefits.
Apply for a job in a corporate architecture department.Once you’ve gained some experience and kept up-to-date with corporate building standards, it’s time to apply at a company or firm for a corporate architect position. Many major companies have a corporate architect on their staff to oversee the local architect’s work and work as the brand representative.
- You may also work to create color schemes, signage, and other branding materials.
- These jobs pay a median annual salary of over ,000.
Capitalize on your strengths when applying.An architect’s key skills include being analytical, creative, and organized, as well as good communication, technical, and visualization skills. If you have any of these skills, emphasize it in your portfolio, work experience, and interview process.
- Include a wide range of projects in your portfolio as well as standard corporate design projects. Companies look for a diversity in experience and skills, so show how your work stands out and what you learned from those different projects.
- In a job interview, talk about any special training, traveling, or branching out in design that you’ve done. This shows that you’re well-rounded and interested in continued learning.
- Most importantly, show that you have a solid grasp on the importance of good design and good planning.
Stay flexible and continue building experience throughout your career.Working on a variety of projects and displaying excellent problem-solving skills will help you build a reputation as a great corporate architect. Keep providing design, implementation and regulatory insight to projects.
Video: Madhav Raman from Anagraman Architects [India]
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