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

Enoch Sears AIA is co-founder of the Design Firm Accelerator, a program that helps architects grow their income and impact through smart marketing. He’s famous for helping architects build a business that gives them more freedom and profit. He’s the founder of the Architect Business Institute and co-founder of the Architect Marketing Institute. He also hosts the #1 rated interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show where prominent guests like M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Thom Mayne share tips and strategies for success in architecture.

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