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How to become an Architect in the US without going into debt

Dylan1695

Hello I am looking to become an architect in the US without going into debt. I Know that for trade jobs like welders, and electricians that a company will pay them to go through trade school and the company will hire them out of the gate, is there a similar/same thing for architects? Are there any scholarships that can help with paying a lot of the fees and other expenses with becoming an Architect?

 
Sep 3, 20 7:38 pm
chris-chitect

Well, I think the main difference between Architecture and the trades, is that the trades are frequently in demand. Architecture on the other hand is often saturated with graduates that are under employed. 

Here in BC there are often grants etc... to encourage young adults to consider a career in the trades. There is often a shortage as we lose many of those in the trades to the oil fields in Alberta to make six figure incomes (though not really these days) or other boom and bust industries. 

Combine that with young and somewhat naive students (I was one of them) preferring white collar professions in urban areas, and it's not too hard to see why there are financial incentives to attract young adults to just get their hands dirty.

Sep 3, 20 8:07 pm  · 
1  · 
midlander

there are several different costs associated with becoming an architect - by far the biggest (by like a factor of 50-100x) is the cost of education and living while studying full time. secondary are the costs of ncarb registration and testing fees to complete the exams, somewhere around $2000 all total depending how long it takes and how many you pass on the first try. the actual state licensing fees are small and a negligible consideration, roughly $20-100 annually depending on the state.

i have never heard of companies paying to train architects, though some offer small limited scholarships for promising students, usually tied to an internship program. nothing that would make all the difference.

it's such a long process from college to license (8 years minimum, usually longer) and there is no way to identify ahead of time who will be a good architect if they haven't even studied it. it's not a natural talent for anyone. plus as professionals architects are generally free to change companies or go off on their own, and a company has no way to forecast what kind of talent it will need in the 10+ year time frame.

so i think it's very unlikely any company would cover any part of the academic training. but it is quite common (though not universally standard) that companies will pay the fees for qualified candidates to complete their exams and license fees. study materials are easy to access at local aia offices or many companies keep in their own library.

academic or other merit scholarships covering a b.arch degree exist at many universities - search for that. part time work can cover most of living expenses if you live off campus in a second tier city and manage your time well.

Sep 3, 20 8:18 pm  · 
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randomised

European here, apparently, if you’re a minority there is significant help available in the States...I have a Native American friend she studied arts for free  on the East Coast, did an exchange abroad in Europe (that’s how we met), a Master’s degree and PhD on the West Coast, without ever having to pay a single dime  for it. She’s a happy and very well educated home maker now, and her cappuccino art is exquisite! 

Sep 4, 20 2:24 am  · 
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lower.case.yao

if you’re really good you can receive full ride scholarships to many good schools. You can also use your funding offers to try getting other schools to match. 

Sep 4, 20 2:32 am  · 
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natematt

It's a little tricky with the way programs tend to stack and the skills that will get you a full ride for undergrad vs grad school.

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apscoradiales

Rich parents.

Sep 4, 20 8:49 am  · 
1  · 
natematt

Best choice.

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Non Sequitur

Step one: don't consider 50K tuition per year as an investment.

Step two: try not to take out any loans. Work for a few years and save.  You'll thank me later when you can buy a house instead of looking at a 6-figure tuition bill 25y payment plan.

Step three: read steps one and two.


Sep 4, 20 9:13 am  · 
2  · 
Jay1122

if you are that concerned about money, this profession is probably not for you, because you will not make much afterwards for a quite while. Honestly as long as you avoid expensive private universities and do public universities of your state(assuming your state has one NAAB accredited), you should be fine. I attended my state's public university, really low tuition for in-state residents.Still not too bad for out of state. If you can get scholarship, financial aids, grants, etc even better. I think the dumbest thing is to go to those 50K/year non-ivy schools in debt for architecture. Like Pratt.

Sep 4, 20 9:48 am  · 
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I'll second this. No one cares where you went to school after your first job. Even then it's more about your portfolio and experience. Attend an accredited program and get a BA, you don't need a MA unless you want to teach.

2  · 
Dylan1695

is the university of Denver considered one of the expansive ones? I dont know the expansive colleges from the non expansive ones.

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rcz1001

expansive ≠ expensive ≠ expansive.

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rcz1001

I think Chad meant B.Arch not BA. B.Arch is NAAB accredited while a BA/BS degrees in architecture are generally not accredited by NAAB.

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rcz1001

University of Denver is a private university. As a rule of thumb, private universities have higher tuition rates than public colleges because public colleges tend to be partially funded by tax payer dollars and private institutions are often for-profit private institutions that often have profit being their objective after all. They are in business to make money for their shareholders and make big bonuses and salaries.

This doesn't mean the cost of attendance will be higher. There can be scholarships, grants, etc. that can offsets the price. You have to do a bit of researching the financial aid, scholarships, grants, etc. options available to you but don't make sense getting into $50K a year in loan debt to get an architecture degree.

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rcz1001

As for myself, after the ARE and at least a good chunk of 2x AXP, I'll probably wrap things up with a bachelor's degree in Architecture at PSU. I would then be in a position for an easier NCARB Certification and reciprocate to Oregon after completion of architectural licensing in Washington.

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randomised

Godspeed Ricky, and I hope you will manage it all, I really do, but to be honest I’ll eat my hat if you’ll ever be allowed to stamp drawings as an architect in the US.

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rcz1001

If it takes me a thousand years so be it. I think there is still time on this planet for me to get through that. I already have exam authorization. FYI: I can stamp drawings all day long.....

Seriously, I can stamp drawings with the CPBD seal upon CPBD certification upon completing that exam and certification fee. Then completing the ARE and years of experience and I would be licensed with or without the degree at PSU. Getting the degree at PSU would just make NCARB certification easier with logging 2x AXP hours which I may already be logging anyway for licensure in the first place. Besides, the architecture degree would be kind of easy stuff.

2  · 
natematt

A lot of state schools are expensive too, especially where there are not many options.

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athensarch

Check out NAAB accredited programs at state schools. For example, KU’s program cost about 1/4th of where I went to school and their design-build program is great. Debt after school sucks. It severely limits where you can work. I couldn’t financially afford to be adventurous and work in China, Europe, or some high-designy firm for a few years after graduation because my student loan payments would’ve been more than my monthly income.

Sep 6, 20 6:45 am  · 
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apscoradiales

Rich parents or scholarship.

Sep 6, 20 3:47 pm  · 
1  · 
Jaetten

Come to the UK, study on the RIBA Studio course, which will cost a total of £21k for 7 years education, its work based study, full time wage and no real debt, £3k fees per year. You'll have 7 years professional experience, B.Arch and M.Arch. I am not sure, however, if the AIA/NAAB etc. recognise UK training as I believe relations were soured many years ago!

Sep 7, 20 6:51 am  · 
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rcz1001

Jaetten, AIA doesn't mean squat here. NAAB accredits architectural education in the U.S. NCARB and NAAB has or had this foreign education evaluation (EESA). With NCARB's Certification program, you maybe able to use this process: https://www.ncarb.org/advance-your-career/ncarb-certificate/get-certified/foreign-architects

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