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What is this job like?

Architects design houses and buildings. They plan offices and apartments. They design schools, churches, and airport terminals. Their plans involve far more than a building's looks. They must ensure that buildings are safe and strong and that they suit the needs of the people who use them.

The architect and client first discuss what the client wants. The architect sometimes helps decide if a project would work at all or if it would harm the environment. The architect then creates drawings for the client to review. They may be involved in all stages of the construction of a building.

If the ideas are OK, the architect draws up the final plans. These plans show how the building will look and how to build it. The drawings show the beams that hold up the building. They show the air-conditioner, furnace, and ventilating systems. The drawings show how the electricity and plumbing work. Architects used to use pencil and paper to draw their plan, but today most architects use computers. Architects generally work in comfortable conditions because they spend most of their time in offices. However, they spend some time at building sites to see how projects are going.

Architects may feel stressed sometimes. Most architects work 40 hours a week, but they may need to work nights and weekends in order to meet deadlines.

How do you get ready?

Architects must be licensed before they can practice. In order to get a license you need a degree in architecture. Courses include architectural theory, building design, math, and science. Then, you must finish an internship. Finally, you must pass all sections of a license exam. Architects sometimes take new classes to keep their skills fresh.

Architects must be able to visualize things and communicate well visually. Art classes are very helpful in doing this. Speaking, writing, and creativity are also important. Architects should be computer literate.

How many jobs are there?

Architects held about 141,200 jobs in 2008. Most jobs were in small architecture firms. About 1 in 5 was self-employed. This means they practiced as partners in a firm or on their own. Some worked for builders or government agencies.What about the future?

Jobs for architects are expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. For example, there will be many new jobs designing environmentally-friendly buildings. Despite this growth, however, new architects face competition. This job attracts many people, so there are lots of applicants for openings. Applicants who gained experience working for an architectural firm while in school have a competitive advantage.

How much does this job pay?

The average yearly wages of architects were $76,750 in May 2008.

Are there other jobs like this?

Construction managers

Civil engineers

Designers (commercial and industrial designers, interior designers, graphic designers)

Landscape architects

Urban planners

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