A residential architect may review blueprints with clients.
An architect designs and supervises the construction of residential, commercial and public buildings. Architects study a wide range of academic disciplines, including art history, design, math, physics and civil engineering. Their goal is to design attractive, useful and structurally sound buildings. Because of the heavy course load, bachelor of architecture programs typically last five years. A number of architects will also pursue a master of architecture degree to better their employment prospects and pay.
Close to a quarter of U.S. architects are self-employed and design buildings on a contract basis for a wide variety of customers. Most self-employed architects specialize in residential or commercial construction, but some do both, and a few specialize in other architectural fields. Self-employed architects also have to run their business operations, which include marketing, general office support and billing - or find contractors to help with these tasks.
A junior architect is typically a recent graduate who is hired at an established architectural firm. Joining an established firm gives you a chance to gain professional experience. A junior architect often does a good bit of hands-on drawing work, including converting sketches into technical blueprints using CADD software. Depending on experience, background and personality, new architects are typically given project management or project support responsibilities.
A retail architect works with large retail businesses to design stores, offices and other facilities. Some retailers have "signature" styles that architects must incorporate into their designs, but some give the architect more freedom to design eye-catching exteriors and attractive floor space to display goods for sale. Most retail architects are employees of the retailer, but some architecture firms also specialize in retail design. Some retail architecture firms also offer interior design services. Retail architects are frequently focused on project management.
Federal, state and local governments all employ architectures to design and build government facilities. Architects employed by government agencies perform a wide range of duties, including designing accessible and attractive public buildings, offices and warehouses. They also hold project management responsibilities. After gaining experience, architects working in government often have the chance to get involved in other aspects of architecture, such as urban planning or community development.