How to Become a Successful Architect: Infographic

Being a Successful Architect: The Journey

I came across this infographic the other day by graphic designer Anna Vital on “How to Never Give Up on Being an Entrepreneur” and thought it applied so well to architecture that I took some ‘artistic liberties’ and applied some modifications. You can see Anna’s original text underneath, and the ‘Business of Architecture’ authorized changes on top. Becoming an architect is difficult, becoming a GREAT (and profitable) architect is even harder! (P.S. Before you report me to Frank Gehry, let me offer this disclaimer – quotes from famous architects are fabrications – any resemblance to actual utterances is merely coincidental)

What it takes to become an architect

Yesterday my brother-in-law and I compared the respective paths of architects versus engineers. He is in school right now for engineering and just took his EIT exam.

He told me that to become a registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) he must complete 4 years of schooling, pass the E.I.T. exam (one day exam), work for two years as an intern and pass the P.E. exam. Total time at best case scenario to become a Professional Engineer? 6 years, including college.

I told him that to become an architect, one needs a combination of 8 years of schooling an work experience, but this varies by state (???). Across the U.S., one need pass the Architect Registration Examination (A.R.E.). The A.R.E. has 7 divisions and each division takes one day. To become licensed in California, there is an extra test, the California Supplemental Exam (C.S.E.). Total time to licensure for an architect? 8 years minimum, but the average is much greater.

Why do we do it?

So why do architects stick it out through this long process for a career with dubious financial rewards (as shown by the recent recession)?

First off, architects are a tough and resilient crowd. We have the ability to persevere. Additionally, most architects stick it out because they enjoy the career of architecture and they love design! And after 8 long years of schooling, tests, and licensure – they have too much invested to ever switch (!) . Oh yeah, and did I mention it’s worth it?

Anna Vital originally created this image to narrate the path of the entrepreneur and highlight the ups, the downs, and the struggles with the reward at the end. As you can see, becoming an entrepreneur isn’t too different from being an architect.

So what do you think, is it worth it?

Enoch Sears

I am a licensed California architect who loves researching and sharing about running a great architecture business. I founded Business of Architecture to help solo architects and small firms run a better business so they can have the peace of mind to focus on creating great architecture.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 7 comments
edris - July 21, 2015

Architecture is my dream. and oneday i will be an architect.

Miral Hamadah - June 24, 2015

Im 22 years old now , im in my last year in architecture major , i already got RIBA I , yet i was still thinking of finishing my master degree too to get RIBA II, but the thing is i dont really know if i have what it takes to be a successful architect .. I have the passion and i have the courage to do something new and out of tradition… But im a weak hearted on … I dont know how to say no , and i like to work with people around me .. Havent really tried to work on my own before … I just dont think i have that creativity that stand out in all the successful architects .
Im wandering everywhere , desperate to find where to start … Should i travel and look for ajob out side ? Should i stay here in egypt ? But what does it have to add to my table ?? I find architecture depends mainly on luck and the group youre working with … Not how hard you work .
P.s im the only architect in my family thats why im so confused and scared to try and be knocked down … To know that youre failing while walking in the right path is okay , but failing while walking on the wrong path is what i really fear … I hope you can guide me Mr sears…. I need some ensuring or anything i guess from someone that knows what im in …

taqwa - January 9, 2015

Iwould like to be avery famous iam on my second year at the university dreaming of being agreat architect.still ican’t well-present my model and really ineed ahelp..even ifound it very difficult to make my ideas clear and can easily be readed from my model. so please help me and thank you.

henry murray - August 12, 2014

I would like to speak with you im a upcoming engineer

Ali Siddique - January 31, 2014

I am 23 years old and I can’t see start line let alone the finish. I Graduated a 5 Year Architecture Program at the age of 20 in 2011 and have since been resiliently following a constantly altered plan finding the need to shave off a few things to abridge the plan while holding on to the shreds of my sanity. Architecture is truly not for the weak of heart, nor for those who cannot materialize their dreams due to the fear of blemishing their thoughts whilst attempting to bring them to life. That last sentence holds true for me. That is a fear I still find myself trying to overcome and hopefully I will have by the time I “make it”. Nobody talks about the unsuccessful, NOT in architecture Nor in any other business/career. We choose architecture out of passion, inheritance, or inherited passion. There can be other reasons, but none that hold such a significance in our decision to elope with the profession/lifestyle and leave mankind (our family/friends) behind. I understand this is a very long comment and may not make it to the page, but I try not to care. Being oblivious and referring to our sensitivity to all things under the sun/moon comes with the trade. I wonder now if I’m the only person who constantly check their IDP hours to make sure they haven’t changed the way you would check someone your dating’s facebook status to see if they’ve decided to make it official yet… Enough of that. Until next time then…

Matt Nelson - April 20, 2013

Love the graphic and I feel that any professional in our business can learn a lot from it. Speaking from experience, the PE is a grueling test, but I have to tip my hard hat to the architects for the tests of will that they have to endure. Frankly, it might do the engineering disciplines some good to have to match this effort.


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