Architecture is a combination of the arts and sciences. There are numerous specialties in architecture and the ability to be a generalist. To become an architect you’ll need technology, math, science, and design/visual arts. Technology includes computer drafting, illustration, drawing, and rendering. Most architecture programs require math classes through calculus. Applicable science classes to take include environmental sciences and chemistry. Visual arts and design classes (studio classes) will take the bulk of your time at University.
Prior to choosing architecture as your field, use online resources (Blogs, TED talks, etc) to gain knowledge of architecture, architectural history, art history, architectural projects, and architectural companies. Look at websites such as thisiscollosal.com and dezeen.com.
I'd encourage you to start your portfolio as soon as possible. A portfolio is a collection of examples of your original artwork. The best portfolios show passion and excitement. Try to work on something for your portfolio for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. Look at the built environment and the natural environment. Record what you see with hand-drawn sketches, computer graphic work, paintings, photographs, collages, anything that shows your creativity. Your portfolio should have a range of visual arts shown.
After completing a University degree seek registration/certification. I am a registered architect. The variety of work I accomplish, the variety of people I work with, and achieving successful projects creates a fulfilling career.
Best of luck to you in your career path.
Your question about what "education must you have" is quite easy. To get into architecture school, you need to have a high school degree or a GED. That is actually all you need. Some schools require certain levels of mathematics, or art but it varies between programs. The biggest thing you should have is a real desire to become an architect because it is a very serious degree that takes up a good chunk of your college career. You will on average have 18-20 credit hours a semester and some programs run for 5 years to get a B. Arch (bachelor of architecture) you can also find a lot of schools that offer a 4 year degree and then a 2 year masters degree program (these are usually called a 4+2). The big difference is that generally with a 4 year degree you only get a BS (bachelors of science) in Architecture and this degree will not allow you to become a registered architect in most states.
If you're not the greatest artist, don't worry. Some of the best architects we not the best artists. The main thing is to have a real passion for design and how things go together. Also, it's not just about making buildings, it's also about making places for people. Architecture and people go hand in hand.
So best of luck!
I saw a follow-up answer and I wanted to be sure that my answer was accurate.
There are a few states with other "paths" for becoming a licensed architect, but for the vast majority a NAAB accredited college education is required.
I've added link below for each state and their requirements.
An NAAB accredited degree is the fastest path towards becoming a licensed architect, but there are a few ways.
Again, the biggest thing you should have is a real desire to become an architect!
Dennis recommends the following next steps:
You need to know or good at
- Math (algebra, calculus, etc.)
- Computer and knowledge of the software such as Autodesk and others are essential.
As an Architect, my advice would be, I would urge you not to follow the standard path. When I was in college, most of my classmates couldn't build anything they designed let alone their class projects. They ended up having me help them, which after the first few I started charging to build their models....lol. Honestly, lots of people can go to school for Architecture, intern then sit for 5-8 test to get licensed and be able to seal plans but this leaves a monumental disconnect in this Industry as Contractors really don't care for Architects because most cannot build what they Seal and Architects don't really care for Contractors because of they have this dogmatic stigmatism that Contractors aren't educated like them. This is false! To be a GREAT Architect my suggestion would be this:
1. Start taking Wood Shop while in high school so you get a basic understanding of woodworking and even building structures. My high school had a structures class.
2. While still in High School see if you can get a summer job with a Contractor that does both Residential & Commercial construction but definitely Residential. This is fundamental to being an exceptional Architect-one who can actually with their hands build what they design. This is the course I did. I worked my way up through construction and became a Contractor then I went on to school for Architecture. Remember Architects don't make Buildings, The GC actually makes it, the Architect only designs it. So you see the importance of these two fields working so close together.
3. During High School try taking all the Geometry you can and the more advance sides of math this will prepare you for both sides of this industry.
4. You can search NCARB for Schools who have approved Architectural Degrees. Oh and I saw another post that says you can't get licensed if you have a Bachelors of Science in Architectural Design, this is FALSE. I have a 4-year BS in Architectural Design. I know an Architect that even has a Bachelor of Fine Arts without having a degree in Architecture or Architectural Design and he's licensed in TX. Simply put do you research. You will find that not every state has the same requirements.
Sorry this was long but a must need to be said info. If you are serious about Architecture you can ask your guidance counselor at school to contact a local Architect for a 1-on-1 Q & A. Most will do this for High School students interested in this field.
Great Question. Good Luck.