Careers in Architecture
A trip to Europe as a high school student piqued Jack Paruta’s interest in architecture.
Paruta, a graduate of the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, is an architect for Gensler Architecture, Design and Planning Worldwide in New Jersey.
Architects design furniture, interiors and buildings. They develop designs into detailed documents that contractors use to build projects. They could be responsible for designing, planning, restoring or preserving. Many with careers in architecture become involved with the construction industry by working for contractors or becoming contractors, construction managers or entering related fields.
Currently, Paruta is overseeing a corporate headquarter relocation for a major Fortune 500 firm.
How to Become an Architect
There are several ways to become an architect.
• Complete a five-year bachelor’s of architecture (B.Arch) program. Graduates must complete an office apprenticeship before taking the state licensing exams.
• Complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in architecture that prepares you to enter a professional graduate school program. Usually, students can complete their master’s degree in architecture (M.Arch) in two years, so this is called a 4+2 program. Graduates must complete an office apprenticeship before taking the state licensing exams.
• Complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in something other than architecture, then earn a M.Arch in three to three and a half years. Graduates also must complete an office apprenticeship before taking the state licensing exams.
Is it for you?
You know how to become an architect. Do you want to?
“The most compelling reason to be an architect is that architects shape the built environment and give form and identity to our culture,” says Karen Van Lengen, dean and Edward E. Elson professor of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. “Every project they work on is different from the last, so they are constantly learning new things and working with new people. It is a very creative and dynamic discipline and often involves travel.”
Paruta’s favorite part of his job is seeing a finished product.
“You collaborate with the builders and artisans in the field to make sure things work and you get the design you were hoping for,” he says. “I enjoy getting to the end result and making that occur.”
To find out firsthand if you want to be an architect, find a part-time job working for an architect or planner or landscape architect. Be prepared to work long hours and meet with clients on their schedules. As an architect, also be prepared to influence the shape of a community.
When asked how to become an architect, Paruta had this to say:
In high school, take technical drafting or computer-aided drafting classes. “A background in art is a good thing,” Paruta says. “Learn how to draw, and if the built environment is something you’re interested in, take a look around you.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, architects make an average salary of $56,620.
To discover careers in architecture, visit nextSTEPmag.com/careers.