How to Become an Architect

Architecture is a profession that involves the design, planning and construction of buildings. In order to be an architect you must go through years of education, apprenticeship training and experience. But what if there was another way? Introducing architects as Minecraft players!

The “how to become an architect without a degree” is a question that many people are asking. The answer is by getting the necessary experience and certifications.

Architectures having a discussion while being on-site.

We’re back with another installment of our So You Want My Job series, in which we speak with guys who work in coveted positions and ask them about the realities of their employment as well as tips on how men might achieve their goals.

Many guys start out as small boys playing with LEGOs and Lincoln Logs, but then go on to other interests. Some guys, on the other hand, never give up their childhood interest and go on to construct and dream up structures in real life rather than on their bedroom floors. People like Ryan Hansanuwat of Austin, Texas, who dropped out of high school but returned when he was older than usual and now manages an architectural company. Ryan developed the Architecture Career Guide website in the aim of encouraging others interested in the subject because of his unconventional journey to it. Today, Ryan tells us about his day-to-day duties.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself (e.g., where do you come from?). What is your age? Describe your job, including how long you’ve been doing it, and so on.)

I am a 34-year-old certified architect based in Austin, Texas. For over 10 years, I’ve worked in the sector in numerous capacities. My present position is as Vice President of the architecture division of a small-to-mid-size commercial architectural business. I’ve had positions as a Project Architect, Project Manager, Designer, Drafter, and Intern in the past.

I began my career in junior college when I enrolled in a “Introduction to Architecture” course and fell in love with the field. I earned a professional Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cal Poly Pomona before continuing on to the University of Southern California to get a Master of Building Science degree. I finished my internship and license examinations prior to earning my Master’s degree, but this is not normal. To become a certified architect, most individuals need three to 10 years after graduating from high school.

2. What inspired you to pursue a career as an architect? Have you always been fascinated by architecture? Did you use to play with LEGOs when you were a kid? When did you realize you wanted to do it?

I didn’t know I wanted to be an architect until I took an introductory course in junior college, but in retrospect, I should have realized it sooner. I used to play with LEGOs all the time as a youngster, and I used to draw floor plans and illustrations of fantasy homes in my parents’ 100 Home Plans book. I also spent a lot of time as a kid making my own tree home, so being an architect was in me all along; I simply didn’t know it till later in life.

3. What are the steps to become an architect? Is it only a college diploma that’s required, or do you also need additional credentials?

It is a three-step procedure to become a licensed architect, in which you must finish your education, experience, and test. Most persons achieve this by enrolling in an architectural program at an institution that has been recognized by the National Association of Architecture Boards. Following graduation, you must complete your internship years, during which you must get on-the-job training in specified areas as established by the Internship Development Program, which should take roughly three years.


You may begin taking your licensure examinations, known as the Architecture Registration Exams, if you have the necessary education and experience. There are presently seven tests that assess your capacity to safeguard the public’s health, safety, and welfare, ranging from space planning to structural systems and all in between. You will be a licensed architect after you have completed all of your tests, but depending on your state, you may also need to complete annual Continuing Education hours to keep up with industry developments.

4. When most people think of an architect, they imagine someone sitting at a drawing board all day dreaming up new architectural designs. However, I’m sure that’s only partly correct. What does your typical day entail? What various kinds of architects can you be?

In some ways, the picture of the artist looking at a drawing board is accurate, although it is just a minor part of the work. Designing is the most enjoyable element of most architects’ jobs, although we only devote a little amount of time to it. We often have to operate a company, advertise ourselves, organize specifics, and attend meetings with owners, engineers, and contractors. I spend the most of my day on the phone/email and just a little amount of time on design.

Having stated that, an architect may work in a wide variety of roles. Some architects may concentrate on several marketplaces that cater to various areas of the industry. Massive commercial architects work in teams on large projects like skyscrapers, whereas residential architects work on bespoke houses for homeowners. Architects may work in almost any sort of company since the field is so diverse.

5. How competitive is the employment market for architects? Is it true that architectural companies employ the majority of people? How tough is it to get a job at a company, and what distinguishes one candidate from the rest?

The employment situation is improving, but it remains tough. Many architectural businesses were struck hard by the crisis, and some are just now beginning to recover. As a result, there are only so many employment available in architectural companies. While many of the positions for individuals just starting out are in established organizations, there are still plenty of opportunities for those who want to go it alone.

It relies on your degree of experience when applying for a position at an architectural business. For interns and young architects, having a good portfolio with great design, as well as knowing all of the right production tools like Autodesk Revit or whatever the firm you’re interested in uses, and having a general understanding of how a building goes together, are the best ways to set yourself apart. Building experience is beneficial for understanding specifics and construction procedures.


Architect sitting in office, looking at blueprints.

6. How can an architect start his own business? How can a self-employed architect get a job?

Many architects ultimately open their own business, although many do not do so until they have worked in the field for many years. They will study all areas of architecture during this period, from design to marketing to building. As architects begin to bring in their own customers, they must determine whether they want to work for themselves or for their company.

It is up to them to locate customers after they have gone out on their own. If you’re working on a smaller project, such as custom homes, you’ll need to use a mix of advertising, marketing, and just getting the word out and leveraging whatever connections you have. Commercial projects demand you to be able to put up a competent response to requests for qualifications, where you must present your portfolio and talents for the specific project in a certain manner.

7. How do you strike a work-life balance?

Many architects’ main gripe is the lack of work/life balance, since the impression is that you must suffer for your craft. This is instilled early in architecture school, and it is often anticipated in work, where numerous all-nighters are required to complete the job.

This isn’t always true, and it doesn’t have to be. Every evening, I leave the workplace around 5 p.m. and have supper with my family. I spend my weekends with my family, and I only work more than 40-45 hours a week on occasion.

8. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

The finest part of my profession is when people begin to use the structure you developed. The fact that this structure only existed in your imagination at one time, and now people are satisfied with the tangible object your mind was able to create. When my customers tell me how much the space has helped them, I’m pleased that I was able to make a difference.

9. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

The most difficult aspect of my profession is the few instances when I have to pull all-nighters or work 60-hour weeks to meet a deadline. Many architects, like myself, are perfectionists, therefore there are occasions when I feel compelled to spend additional time on a project in order to get the finest possible result.

10. What is the most common misunderstanding about your job?

Depending on who you ask, there are a few misunderstandings. One is the notion that we are prepared to put our lives on hold for our employment. From the novel Fountainhead to the film Click!, architects are often depicted as idealistic and unable to engage with customers or spend time with their families, which is not the case for the majority of us. Another misperception is that architects are a luxury item available exclusively to the wealthy. Because architects work in so many various areas and there are so many of us, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to locate someone who works on your particular project type and would be happy to collaborate with you.


11. Do you have any more advice, recommendations, opinions, or anecdotes to share?

It’s all worth it when your first design is created and you get to walk in it after all of your years of training, working, testing, and learning to become an architect. The second proudest experience of my life is seeing something I made in action, with actual people utilizing it. Being a father comes in second.



If you already have a degree, the “how to become an architect if you already have a degree” is something that you should do. You will need to get your license and find work in order to be considered for the position.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications do you need to become an architect?

A: In order to become an architect, you would need a degree in architecture. A minimum of four years experience is required, and since the field is relatively new it can take anywhere from ten to 20 years before becoming licensed.

How much years does it take to become a architect?

A: It takes about 10 years to become a architect.

Do architects get paid well?

A: I have no idea what you are talking about.

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