Before deciding on a career in architecture, plenty of questions can cross one’s mind: Which school should I choose? Should I study abroad or choose a local school? Would enrolling in top international universities cost me a fortune? How long will it take for me to finally be able to build my own structure? At the end of the day, the making of an architect is pretty simple: half a decade of architecture studies, and then some.
Whether you are considering studying abroad or staying home, you'll need to know how long it takes to become an architect in your country of choice. Take a look at how long it usually takes to earn that degree in different countries from all over the world, and what you'll need to do (aside from attending school) before becoming a certified architect.
The journey of earning an architectural license is more or less the same everywhere. Whether you choose Japan, the UK, or Sri Lanka for your B.Arch studies, the process remains similar: around 5 years of architecture school, usually followed by one to three years of internship; finally, architects are often required to pass an exam for the official certification.
Earning an architecture license in the UK or USA is formidable. In the United Kingdom, working under the title of “architect” involves studying in a recognized architecture school for three to four years, followed by a minimum of one year of working experience. The student must then earn a postgraduate degree (M.Arch) which usually takes one-and-a-half to two years, followed by an extra working year. Only then is the student allowed to take the RIBA Part III exam, which, upon passing, allows him/her to become a registered architect.
Some countries, however, adopt a different system. Earning the title of architect in Switzerland, for instance, is not regulated or controlled. In other words, you can begin working in an architecture firm long before you earn a certified license. This is due to the fact that the country does not impose strict licensing on this domain. Students can begin working in the architecture field as long as they have obtained proper drafting skills and learned all about the Swiss building codes. However, membership in the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA) requires architects to have the relevant degrees, typically requiring a total of 5 years of study.
Countries such as Ireland, France, and Germany do not impose an official exam or colloquium to become a licensed architect. In Germany, the title of architect is legally limited to those registered with a provincial Chamber of Architects. To be a part of the chamber, one must complete 4 years of architecture school, followed by a higher education diploma, and extensive experience under the supervision of a registered architect. In France (contrary to the above graphic by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) architects must study a 3-year degree followed by a 2-year diploma, then complete one year of professional practice.
Architects in India can earn their place in the Indian Council of Architecture as soon as they finish a minimum of five years of architecture studies, which includes one year working in an internship as part of the course. Similarly in Brazil (and also contrary to the graphic above) the 5-year course includes a minimum of 6 months working in practice as part of the degree.
In some countries, such as Mexico and Lebanon, neither an official exam nor professional experience is necessary to become a licensed architect. In Lebanon, the requirements are rather simple: Five or more years of architecture studies, an approximate amount of $3,000 USD, and you are qualified to become a certified architect.
Nobody said embarking on a career in architecture would be easy, but it is definitely worth every struggle.
Images for this article were kindly provided by Andrea Vasquez.
Correction Update: This article has been changed since its original publication to clarify the study procedures in a number of countries. A sentence has been added about study in France and Brazil to correct the graphic by ACSA above; details have also been added about admission to the SIA in Switzerland and a correction made to the description of studying in India.