How to Become a Lead Architect?

Are you thinking of becoming a Lead Architect or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Lead Architect, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Lead Architect job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.
"Architect" was the nearest match for you query "Lead Architect".

Steps to Become an Architect

Architects are responsible for planning, developing, and implementing designs for buildings and other structures. While a quality education is an absolute must, successful architects have skills that you can't learn in the classroom, including communication, organization, and critical thinking. You should also be enthusiastic about educating clients and be willing to work extra hours to meet deadlines. The following steps are necessary to become an architect.

Pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture.

Most state architecture boards require you to complete a five-year Bachelor's Degree in Architecture if you want to work as an architect. Your degree program must have accreditation from the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). You can expect your coursework to include building systems, project management, and environmental planning.


Participate in architecture competitions.

As you complete your degree, consider participating in student architecture competitions. Many of these competitions are held under the auspices of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Participation in a competition gives you practical experience and looks good on your resume, especially if you win an award. You'll also receive valuable feedback from industry experts, and you can add your competition designs to your portfolio.


Apply for an internship.

While many professions make internships optional, all states require architecture students and recent graduates to complete a three-year paid architectural internship before applying for an architecture license. You can apply for an internship with a licensed architect during your junior or senior year, and those hours will count towards meeting your three-year training requirement. As an intern, you'll gain experience in pre-design, design, project management, and practice management. Specific responsibilities include maintaining project files, researching zoning laws, and preparing presentations.


Study for the Architect Registration Examination.

As you complete your internship, you should also start studying for the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), which is the test you must pass to earn your license to practice architecture. You can obtain study materials, test schedules, and testing locations from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.


Take the Architect Registration Examination.

After you complete your three years of training, you can sit for the ARE. The test consists of seven parts covering topics like site planning, building systems, and construction documents. To pass the exam, you have to score at least 67% in all seven sections. If you don't pass on your first attempt, you can retake the test 60 days after your first test date. Once you've passed the test you can obtain your license to practice architecture.


Apply for positions with architectural firms.

In many cases, the firm you complete your internship with will offer you a permanent position after you get your license. However, if that's not the case or if you need a change of scenery, it's time to start applying for architect jobs at other firms.

Lead Architect Career Path

Lead Architect

5 - 7Years of Experience
$167K - $257K /yrMost Likely Range
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12% advanced to

Principal Architect

8+Years of Experience
$196K - $311K /yrMost Likely Range
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Senior Principal Architect

8+Years of Experience
$242K - $396K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Lead Architect Career Path

Architect I
Architect II
Mid-level Architect
Lead Architect
Principal Architect
Senior Principal Architect
Associate Director of Architecture
Distinguished Architect
Director of Applications Engineering
Vice President of Architecture
Chief Architect
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Related Careers in the Arts & Design Industry

Interested in other Arts & Design careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Lead Architect skills. Discover some of the most common Lead Architect career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Architectural Drafter
0% skills overlap
7% transitioned to Architectural Drafter