Home  -  Career Home  -  Career Profile


Persons employed in this occupation in the United States:
2004: 128,800
Projected 2014: 151,100

Persons employed in this occupation in Iowa:
2002:  770
Projected 2012: 900

2004 Median National
Annual Wages: $61,400
2004 Median Iowa
Annual Wages: $57,700

***Source: America's Career InfoNet

Which elements of an architect’s job would influence you most to choose this career?
Problem Solving
Work Hours
  View Results


Math, history, speech and art were classes that were most applicable to architecture when Kevin was in high school. He took lots of geometry and algebra and currently uses these skills in his job almost every day. He also relies on his art and history knowledge when designing. Speech is a subject that he considers very important because he has to talk to groups of people all the time. Taking speech classes in school proved invaluable to Kevin.

Currently, in most states, a five-year college degree in architecture is required to become a licensed architect. Kevin took a similar path; but when he was in college, things were a little bit different than they are now. After graduating from high school he attended a four-year state university. At the time, the university offered a four-year degree to receive a bachelor of arts degree in architecture. Kevin began his college career in engineering and declared his major as architecture in his second semester. After receiving his four-year degree, he had the choice to stay in school one more year to earn a bachelor of architecture, which is a professional degree, or he could stay in school for two more years to get a master of architecture. He decided to go for, and received, his master's degree.

A student entering college for an architecture degree now would most likely get a five-year degree then have the option of staying on one more year to earn a master's degree in architecture.

Work Experiences and Internships:

In high school, Kevin continued to gain construction knowledge from his father who built homes for a living.

Most summers during college Kevin worked at an architecture firm. When he was a junior in college, he created a resume and some pictures from his college projects. He mailed them to the architecture firms around his home town and asked them if he could have a summer job. One firm sent back a letter stating they didn't have a need for summer help while other firms didn't even respond. Eventually, one of the firms called him and asked him to come for an interview. He did so and got the job! He enjoyed the experience and the people so much that he came back the next summer and eventually went to work for that same firm for two years after graduation.

Kevin definitely recommends interjecting experience into education. He feels that college academic classes offer a lot of theory, reading, writing and drawing but that actually getting into a firm and going to job sites will help architecture students make the connection between their college work and their future careers.

Activities and Organizations:

Participating in sports was a big part of Kevin's high school activities. He played for the football and basketball teams in addition to running track. "Sports taught me teamwork, leadership and discipline," he says. These are important qualities and talents that he feels have carried over into his career as an architect. Organizations like Junior Achievement weren't available in his small-town high school but he encourages students to participate in this type of organization and any other organization that promotes teamwork, leadership and discipline.

Once Kevin got to college and had declared his major in architecture, he was able to be a part of the American Institute of Architects. He feels this is an important organization for students to participate in because it has student chapters at colleges and helps to guide students professionally.

Kevin also recommends getting a job working for a contractor. This experience will help form the basis for success in architecture. Knowing how steel is put together, how concrete is poured and how a site is graded will become valuable knowledge as an architect.

Setbacks and Obstacles:

Kevin considers himself lucky to have avoided any major obstacles along his path to his career but there was a little bit of indecision. As a child he had always pictured himself as an architect. But when he was a senior in high school he encountered a crossroads. He really liked biology and thought he might want to be a doctor. He was torn between the architectural field and the medical field. When he headed off to college, he declared his major in engineering but decided in his first semester that architecture was what he really wanted to do. So, in his second semester, he declared architecture as his major.

"There are many obstacles that architects can run into in their careers," Kevin says. "Our profession, like many others, relies heavily on the economy. If the economy isn't going well then people aren't building things…But the last 15 years in architecture have been going very well."

Other setbacks that could be encountered include college financing, finding a job in this competitive field and overcoming a fear of speaking in front of a large group of people. Knowing these obstacles are out there and tackling them is the key to a successful career as an architect.


The joy of creating motivated Kevin and helped him on his path to becoming an architect. He feels that most architects probably have an innate need to create things and to be artistic. Those needs are strong and healthy, and he feels they contribute to his success in architecture.

Another motivational element is fulfillment. He enjoys a project most when the contractor is done and the new owner moves in. The owner's satisfaction is what motivates him to continue to grow as an architect.


Kevin's father was a homebuilder so, as a child, Kevin always looked at his house magazines. One magazine had house plans and 3D images of new houses. When he was about 10 years old, he started dreaming of designing his own houses. His parents created his own drawing board for him and bought him a t-square. He would copy the house plans he saw in the magazine. Since he had always enjoyed drawing and painting, this was a new way to express his creative talents.

In high school, he was introduced to new interests such as medicine and even considered taking that career path, but design and construction were his true loves so architecture seemed the best choice

Next: A day in the life of an Architect.



Contact Us: lashell@iptv.org
Copyright 2009, Iowa Public Television
The School to Careers project is supported by funds from a USDE Star Schools grant.
Enhanced Careers made possible through a generous grant provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The views presented on this site do not necessarily reflect those of Iowa Public Television; nor does IPTV endorse the businesses represented. Our mission is to make students aware of a variety of careers with as much objective information as possible.