How To Become a Junior Architect (Plus Duties and Skills)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published January 3, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Architecture is the art and profession of designing structures such as houses and buildings. At the beginning of their careers, architects work as junior architects, where they provide support and make contributions to architectural projects. If you're interested in being an architect, it's important to understand what to expect as you pursue and start your career. In this article, we define the role and duties of a junior architect, describe the steps you can take to enter this profession, examine some of the essential skills for the job and describe the expected work environment.
What is a junior architect?
A junior architect is an architectural professional who supports and assists senior architects or a lead designer. They typically work for architectural and engineering companies and contribute to various projects by fulfilling any necessary duties, such as helping with the development of plans and presentations. Most architects begin their careers at the junior level and work their way up to a more advanced position by refining their talents and earning merit through successful contributions. As they gain practical experience, their seniors provide supervision and guidance.
What does a junior architect do?
Junior architects support senior architects, designers and architectural projects in various ways. Their specific duties may include:
Brainstorming ideas for projects
Performing preliminary research for projects
Providing input on project proposals and architectural designs
Helping to coordinate details for projects
Completing documents relating to designs or construction
Submitting documents such as drawings, proposals and paperwork for permits
Helping to present materials to clients
Communicating with contractors about the status of a project
Communicating with clients to gather requirements, answer questions and keep them current on the project status
Collaborating with other members of the project team
How to become a junior architect
Follow these steps to become a junior architect:
1. Earn an academic degree in architecture
University-level education is a requirement for entry into the field of architecture. A bachelor's degree in architecture is a common requirement, with a Bachelor of Architecture program typically lasting five years. The specific coursework may vary depending on the institution, but it generally includes a broad array of subjects such as computer-aided design and drafting, architectural theory, the history of architecture, physics, analytic geometry, methods of construction and liberal arts. If desired, you can also pursue a Master's of Architecture. Though this may add one to five years of education, it can greatly improve your candidacy for junior architect positions.
Keep in mind that most states require architects to earn their degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), the oldest U.S. accrediting agency for architectural education. The NAAB provides a full list of accredited institutions on its website. You can also find specific state requirements through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).
2. Complete an internship
A paid internship is a requirement of every state architectural registration board. Usually lasting about three years, the internship is a training period during which you can earn practical knowledge. Look into the Architectural Experience Program, an NCARB scheme through which recent graduates can find, earn and report their training experience. Also, research your state's requirements concerning internships, as you may be allowed to complete your training in architecture-related fields such as general contracting and engineering.
3. Pass the Architect Registration Exam
The Architect Registration Exam is an assessment required for licensure as an architect. The exam comprises six divisions that test your architectural knowledge and skills. The six divisions are:
Programming and analysis
Project planning and design
Project development and documentation
Construction and evaluation
To prepare, refer to the NCARB website, which provides guidelines, study materials and resources for the test. Depending on the division, a passing score may be between 57% and 71% of correctly answered scored items. If you pass the exam and meet all other requirements set by your state, you receive your architecture license.
4. Apply for junior architect positions
As a licensed architect, you can begin searching for junior architect positions. Use a job search site or a specialized architecture job board to find openings with architectural or engineering firms. Additional opportunities may be available in the construction or government sectors, so investigate resources related to those areas as well.
Essential skills for junior architects
Several hard skills, soft skills and personal qualities can contribute to your success as a junior architect. These include:
Junior architects use a variety of computer programs to complete their work. Tools such as AutoCAD and SketchUp are useful for creating drawings, designs and models, which is a required activity of the role. It's also important for junior architects to be skilled in word processing, presentation and spreadsheet software, which can be helpful for writing proposals, completing paperwork, creating slide decks and keeping track of project details.
Communication is the ability both to convey information to others and to process received information. Communication skills are fundamental to a junior architect's success because a large part of the role involves following the instructions of senior project members. The ability to communicate well allows a junior architect to ask appropriate questions to gather all of the information necessary to complete a task. It's also important for creating effective correspondences with contractors and clients, who benefit from regular updates concerning project requirements and progress.
Self-management refers to a set of competencies that allow you to independently identify requirements and accomplish associated tasks without explicit instruction from another person. Though junior architects regularly receive instructions from senior members of their organization, it's important for them to be able to work under minimal supervision. A self-managed approach to work often leads to greater, more unique contributions to projects and accelerates your junior-level training.
Creativity is the ability to generate and apply novel or interesting ideas. Junior architects aspire to lead projects that involve designing structures such as houses and buildings. This activity requires creativity to produce designs that are both attractive and unique.
Work environment for junior architects
As mentioned, junior architects normally work for architectural and engineering companies, sometimes moving on to opportunities in government, construction or self-employment once they advance from the junior level. Much of their work takes place in offices, where they collaborate with project members, contribute to designs and drawings, draft documents and write correspondences. In some cases, they may visit construction sites to assist in overseeing progress on a project or to deliver information.
The role of a junior architect is usually a full-time position. Though most junior architects work 40-hour weeks, additional hours and weekend work may occasionally be necessary.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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