Architectural Design Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-11-2215 min read

Architectural design combines art and engineering to create homes, high-rises, and public spaces. For this job, you need to be creative, know how things work and have an eye for how things look.

Architectural design careers go beyond constructing buildings. Graduates from related majors like surveying, drafting, urban planning, and civil engineering are also prepared for careers in these fields. This guide lists educational requirements and job duties for several architecture careers.

Why Choose Architectural Design?

Architects are creative problem-solvers who enjoy designing efficient structures and spaces for communities, homeowners, and businesses. As an architecture professional, you’ll create plans and blueprints based on client specifications.

Architects need problem-solving and communication skills. In addition, they must be good leaders and adaptable to changing styles and regulations.

How to Start your Architectural Design Journey

Getting started in architectural design usually requires a degree. Here are the different degree options available.

Educational Requirements

Associate Degree

An associate's degree in architecture covers residential and commercial construction technologies and materials.

Students create construction documents and estimate the cost and time for projects. Coursework in subjects like English, math, and communication is also required for architecture programs.

Graduates can work for engineering firms, government agencies, and construction companies as drafters, woodworkers, and civil engineering technicians.

Bachelor’s Degree

Around 150 credits are required for a bachelor's degree in architecture. Courses include analytical geometry and calculus.

Students are also given an overview of the fundamentals of physics and engineering as they relate to the construction industry as well as basic architectural theory.

Common activities for students include creating original works and participating in design studios. You can work as a lighting designer, surveyor, or construction manager with a bachelor's degree.

Master’s Degree

A master's degree in architecture provides a more in-depth education in the field, with classes covering topics like building structures, design, and materials.

The curriculum for a master's degree also emphasizes research. There are a wide variety of concentrations available, including landscape architecture. You'll need a license afterward, but with a master's degree, your career paths include architect, urban planner, and landscape architect.

Doctorate in Architectural Design

Doctoral programs emphasize qualitative and quantitative research. Students study design, building performance, and energy optimization. Students can also select courses within sub-majors like green building, urban planning, and preservation.

An academic dissertation is the capstone of most doctoral degree programs. These in-depth papers frequently examine one facet of architecture, such as green building or healthcare design.

Employment Prospects

Despite slow job growth, it is expected that there will be 9,100 annual openings for architects. Many of these openings will arise directly from workers leaving their current fields for other opportunities or retiring.

Architectural Design Career Forecast

Although salary expectations for architects vary by industry and location, the median annual salary for architects is $80,180. But the BLS predicts only a 3% increase in demand for architects between 2021 and 2031.

Lucrative Architectural Design Career Paths

Here are several career paths in architecture.


Architects are responsible for designing and planning various buildings, such as homes, businesses, and public spaces.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of an architect is $80,180. However, the salary ranges from $48,930 to $129,980.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Discuss structure goals and needs with clients.
  • Give cost and timeline estimates.
  • Make structure specifications.
  • Supervise drawing and document preparation
  • Create scaled drawings by hand or with computer software.
  • Prepare building contracts
  • Controlling construction contracts
  • Check construction sites for architectural compliance.
  • Market and give presentations to find work.

Industries Employing Architects

The industries actively employing architects include:

  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Self-employed workers
  • Construction
  • Government

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers organize, oversee, and coordinate activities in their organizations.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of an architectural and engineering manager is $152,350. However, the salary ranges from $99,350 to $208,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Make plans for new architectural projects and designs.
  • Assess the demand for personnel, training, and equipment.
  • Create project and program budgets.
  • Hire and supervise staff. Lead R&D to create new products, processes, or designs
  • Check their employees' technical accuracy.
  • Check their staff's methods.
  • Coordinate with staff and managers

Industries Employing Architectural and Engineering Managers

The industries actively hiring architectural and engineering managers

  • Manufacturing
  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Government
  • Scientific research and development services
  • Management of companies and enterprises

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers plan, design, build, supervise, operate, handle construction projects, and maintain public and private infrastructure, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, water, and sewage systems.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of a civil engineer is $88,050. However, the salary ranges from $60,550 to $133,320.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Plan and design projects by analyzing long-range plans, survey reports, maps, etc.
  • Oversee building construction process.
  • Consider construction costs, regulations, and environmental hazards during project planning and risk analysis.
  • Verify that construction projects comply with local, state, and federal regulations before submitting permit applications.
  • Analyze soil test results to determine foundation strength.
  • Analyze test results for specific concrete, wood, asphalt, or steel projects.
  • Determine a project's economic feasibility by estimating materials, equipment, and labor costs.

Industries Employing Civil Engineers

The industries actively employing civil engineers include:

  • Engineering services
  • State government, excluding education and hospitals
  • Local government, excluding education and hospitals
  • Non-residential building construction
  • Federal government, excluding postal service

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design parks and outdoor areas of campuses, businesses, homes, and other spaces.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of a landscape architect is $67,950. However, the salary ranges from $43,260 to $115,380.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Discuss project requirements with clients, engineers, and architects.
  • Create site plans, technical specifications, and budgets.
  • Arrange existing and proposed land features and buildings.
  • Prepare graphic plans using CAAD software
  • Choose landscape materials
  • Analyze environmental reports on drainage and energy use.
  • Check landscaping progress against plans.

Industries Employing Landscape Architects

The industries actively employing landscape architects include:

  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services
  • Self-employed workers
  • Government
  • Construction

Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors ensure that building work complies with zoning laws, local and federal building codes, and contract requirements.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of a construction and building inspector is $61,640. However, the salary ranges from $38,110 to $100,520.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Approve compliant building plans.
  • Monitor construction sites for compliance
  • Use moisture meters to check for plumbing leaks or flood damage and electrical testers to check electrical components.
  • Check that the plumbing, electrical, and other systems are up to code by performing inspections.
  • Use survey equipment to check building alignment, level, and elevation.

Industries Employing Construction and Building Inspectors

The industries actively hiring construction and building inspectors include:

  • Local government, excluding education and hospitals
  • Engineering services
  • Self-employed workers
  • Construction
  • State government, excluding education and hospitals

Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners create land use plans and policies that support the development of communities, population expansion, and facility revitalization in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

Average Salary

The average annual salary for urban and regional planners is $78,500. The salary ranges from $48,720 to $119,340.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Discuss development plans and land use with officials, developers, and the public.
  • Manage government land-use plans or policies
  • Analyze community development and decline, including land use, through fieldwork.
  • Examine developer site plans
  • Evaluate proposals and make changes
  • Keep up with zoning, building, environmental, and other legal issues

Industries Employing Urban and Regional Planners

The industries actively hiring urban and regional planners include:

  • Local government, excluding education and hospitals
  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
  • Federal government


Surveyors measure property boundaries precisely. They provide shape and contour data for engineering, mapping, and construction.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of a surveyor is $61,600. However, the salary ranges from $37,360 to $101,240.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Examine land titles, survey records, and other relevant information.
  • Find evidence of previous boundaries to locate boundary lines.
  • Verify and record survey results.
  • Make maps, plots, and reports.
  • Present results to clients and agencies
  • Identify legal boundaries for land and water for use in leases, deeds, and other legal documents.

Industries Employing Surveyors

The industries actively employing surveyors include:

  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Government
  • Construction
  • Self-employed workers
  • Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction

Construction Managers

A construction manager's duties span the entire lifecycle of a building project, from initial planning to final inspections.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of a construction manager is $98,890. However, the salary ranges from $60,050 to $163,800.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Prepare budgets, timetables, and cost estimates.
  • Explain contracts and technical information to professionals.
  • Collaborate with architects, engineers, and builders
  • Schedule and coordinate subcontractors' work.
  • Report project progress and budget issues to construction firms and clients.
  • Respond to project delays, emergencies, and problems
  • Ensure the project meets building and safety codes.

Industries Employing Construction Managers

The industries actively hiring construction managers include:

  • Self-employed workers
  • Specialty trade contractors
  • Non-residential building construction
  • Residential building construction
  • Heavy and civil engineering construction


Architectural drafters use computers and drawing software to translate architectural and engineering plans into detailed schematics. Most drafting specialists use technical drawings to design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of a drafter is $60,290. However, the salary ranges from $37,390 to $92,970.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Design plans using CAD software
  • Work from rudimentary blueprints and specifications produced by engineers and architects
  • Create products using engineering and production methods
  • Add building techniques to architectural plans.

Industries Employing Drafters

The industries actively hiring drafters include:

  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services

Data Warehouse Architects

A data warehouse architect plans and designs data warehouses for corporations, governments, and nonprofits. They use advanced technical skills and architectural design expertise to plan data warehousing technologies for businesses and organizations.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of a data warehouse architect is $124,910. The salary ranges from $109,435 to $145,527

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Manages data warehouse and storage architecture
  • Manages relationships with software and hardware vendors to understand their strategies' architectural impact.
  • Travel to client locations as needed
  • Align multiple delivery partners on complex projects' architecture.
  • Effectively communicate end-to-end solutions/roadmaps to delivery teams

Industries Employing Data Warehouse Architects

The industries actively hiring data warehouse architects include:

  • Consumer Goods.
  • Finance and Banking.
  • Government and Education.
  • Health Care.
  • Hospitality.

Historic Preservation Architects

Historic preservation architects evaluate and preserve old buildings with architectural and historical value. First, they evaluate a building's age, quality, and condition. Then, they can design renovations and repairs that preserve the building's original design.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of a historic preservation architect is $65,896. The salary ranges from $48,000 to $102,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Making repairs and renovations that don't change the building's look.
  • Restore the building to code and ensure its longevity.
  • Working with historians, engineers, or other experts to create conservation plans for historic sites.
  • Plan renovations to meet NRHP guidelines.

Industries Employing Historic Preservation Architects

The industries actively hiring historic preservation architects include:

  • Architecture firm
  • Government
  • Construction
  • Self-employed workers

Architectural Designers

Architectural designers plan buildings and landscapes. They work under licensed architects to gather design requirements, specifications, and budgets for building projects.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of an architectural designer is $58,634. The salary ranges from $51,558 to $65,074

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Meeting with clients to discuss construction, alterations, or repairs.
  • Gathering layout measurements, dimensions, and calculations.
  • Providing design recommendations based on budget, site, and trends.
  • Using CAD and hand drawing to create architectural plans for management and clients.
  • Redesigning based on management and client feedback.
  • Giving management cost, time, machinery, construction, and other estimates.
  • Exchanging ideas and support with other architects and designers.

Industries Employing Architectural Designers

The industries actively hiring architectural designers include:

  • Non-residential and residential construction companies
  • Specialized urban design services firms
  • Architectural engineering businesses

Interior Architects

Interior architects design building interiors while taking functionality and appearance into account.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of an interior architect is $56,946. However, the salary ranges from $41,000 to $79,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Interior architects design safe, functional, and attractive interiors.
  • Draft plans to create or redesign spaces in private homes or commercial buildings.
  • Participate in the entire building or remodeling process.
  • Determine project costs and requirements during budgeting.
  • Plan out an interior design project.

Industries Employing Interior Architects

The industries actively employing interior architects include:

  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services
  • Furniture Stores
  • Residential Building Construction
  • Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Good

Production Designers

A production designer creates a film, TV show, or commercial look. They pick sets, props, costumes, and makeup.

Average Salary

The average annual salary of a production designer is $52,394. However, the salary ranges from $38,000 to $86,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Creating models of sets and scenery for client presentations or meetings
  • Managing the physical construction of sets during production, often working with contractors or subcontractors.
  • Buying, storing and maintaining all construction materials, including lumber, plywood, fabric, paint, and electrical supplies.
  • Creating a visual style that fits the film's narrative, mood, or genre with the director.

Industries Employing Production Designers

The industries actively hiring production designers include:

  • Independent production companies

How to Boost your Architectural Design Career

Architects can boost their careers by earning certificates, taking part in in-person or online training, attending seminars, and obtaining an architecture degree.

Professionals should focus on career-related and specialized opportunities. For example, conservation architects can learn and network at the Council on Training in Architectural Conservation.

Pros and Cons of Architectural Design Careers

The path to becoming an architect is enticing but intimidating. So here are the pros and cons to help you decide if it's right for you.


  • You'll pick Reasoning Skills
  • up a lot of design knowledge.
  • As an architect, you'll never get bored.
  • You're making a difference with architecture.


  • After graduation, you won't necessarily have employment.
  • The obligation might make you anxious.
  • There is a lot of work involved in becoming an architect.
  • You'll most likely never be wealthy, only comfortable.

Skills You’ll Develop While Studying Architectural Design

Here are some skills you’ll pick up in your architectural design career.

Reasoning Skills

Architects must make logical design choices and explain even minor project details. For example, you should know why a stairway wall shouldn't have a window or can't be built in front of the entrance.

Critical thinking is as important as designing and drawing in architecture. If you want to please everyone who uses your design, you must be able to justify and explain every choice.

Communication Skills

An architect collaborates with engineers, builders, and clients. Therefore, you must communicate messages carefully and effectively. One misunderstanding can be disastrous.

You must listen to your team as an architect. In exchange, you must give objective, positive feedback on design ideas.

Problem Solving Skills

Almost every architect has faced a major design problem. You need creative and resourceful problem-solving skills to save your project in these situations.

The problem-solving principle also applies to idea design. You must constantly question yourself and rethink functionality to improve your work.

Drawing Skills

Architects should be able to tell from a distance whether a line is straight. This drawing skill comes from years of practice.

Architectural drawings show how a finished building will look. These can be hand-drawn or computer aided design. While many drawings are now digital, your drawing skills are still essential to expressing your ideas on paper and should be at the top of your list.

Design Skills

Architects must create functional, aesthetically pleasing designs. This skill is crucial when designing any building. You can improve your design eye by studying other successful architects' work.

You must also be artistic to ensure that your design is safe and practical. Always look for inspiring forms, shapes, and styles, not just in other buildings.

How to Prepare for an Architectural Design Career

The steps highlighted below will help you prepare for an architectural design career.

1. Get a Degree

Most architects need a bachelor's degree. So make sure to enroll in a bachelor's degree program recognized by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. You'll learn project management, building systems, and environmental planning through your studies.

2. Look For Internships

Once you have basic to advanced architecture skills, look for internships. Professional licensing require internships. Architecture internships usually last three years and cover multiple design disciplines.

3. Get Licensed

You need a license from your respective regulatory body to engage in professional practice. The National Council of Architectural Registration Board(NCARB) is responsible for administering architectural licenses.

4. Get An Entry Level Job

Once you have your license in hand, finding an entry-level position will be much easier. You can seek employment in the private or public sectors or even as a freelance architect.

Architectural Design Resources to Help Your Career

Here are some of the best resources to help your architecture career.

  • – Alberta Association of Architects helps architects develop professionally. Members can learn about various activities and use online reporting tools.
  • Architectmagazine – Need help designing a wood building? The Architect connects you with other industry professionals who share your interests or can provide expert advice.
  • – This is a career development website for students interested in architecture.
  • – AAP connects you with your job search sites or internship programs and also assists you in sharing your options and opinions and helps you develop your skills, review your resume, practice interview skills, and more.

How to Switch to an Architectural Design Career

If you want to switch to a career in architectural design, you'll need an architecture degree. This could be an associate's or a bachelor's degree. You can even go further to get a master's degree. Afterward, you'll need to get an architecture license before practicing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Architectural Design?

Architectural design focuses on meeting needs and creating living spaces using tools and creativity. Despite the widespread misconception that architecture is solely technological, the goal is to combine the technological and the aesthetic.

What certification do I need for an Architectural Design career?

You don’t need any certification for an architecture career. However, you can get one to make your resume look better.

Architects can seek NCARB certification to expand to multi-state projects. NCARB certification offers continuing education discounts and the right to add 'NCARB' to an architect's title, demonstrating professional aptitude.

Can I get an Architectural Design degree online?

There are almost no online architecture degree because it is a hands-on field. However, there are a growing number of hybrid programs that combine online instruction (such as GE credits) with traditional on-campus labs and lectures.

What fields can Architectural Design professionals work in?

Architectural specializations include commercial, residential, and landscape design. They design and construct buildings for individuals, companies, and organizations in these careers.

Architecture graduates can also work as draftsmen and woodworkers. They can write scholarly articles and teach college courses if they have advanced degrees.

Is there a high demand for Architectural Design majors?

The demand for architectural design majors is currently experiencing slow growth. The BLS projects a 3% growth, which is slower than average, for architect positions between 2021 and 2031.

Final Thoughts

Several interesting and lucrative professions await you in the world of architecture. Even though most people aren't sure what career path they want to take in architecture, there are still some who are. Therefore, it's important to love architecture if you pursue it as a career.

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