Jobs Outlook: Architects, Except Landscape and Naval

Prospective architects may face competition for entry-level positions, especially if the number of architectural degrees awarded remains at current levels or increases. Employment of architects is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012, and additional job openings will stem from the need to replace architects who retire, transfer to new occupations, or leave the labor force permanently for other reasons. However, many individuals are attracted to this occupation, and the number of applicants often exceeds the number of available jobs, especially in the most prestigious firms. Prospective architects who gain career-related experience in an architectural firm while they are still in school and who know CADD technology—especially that which conforms to the new national standards—will have a distinct advantage in obtaining an intern position after graduation.

Employment of architects is strongly tied to the level of local construction, particularly nonresidential structures such as office buildings, shopping centers, schools, and healthcare facilities. Employment in nonresidential construction is expected to grow because the replacement and renovation of many industrial plants and buildings has been delayed for years and a large number of structures will have to be replaced or remodeled, particularly in urban areas where space for new buildings is becoming limited. On the other hand, technology enhancements will dampen demand for new commercial construction as nontraditional work and retail environments, such as teleconferencing, home offices, telecommuting, and electronic shopping, proliferate.

Demographic trends and changes in healthcare delivery will influence the demand for certain institutional structures and should also provide more jobs for architects in the future. A growing and aging population will drive demand for the construction of adult daycare, assisted-living, and other outpatient facilities, all of which are preferable, less costly alternatives to hospitals and nursing homes. Similarly, the construction of schools will increase to accommodate growth in the school-aged population. Additions to existing schools (especially colleges and universities), as well as overall modernization, will continue to add to demand for architects through 2012.

Demand for residential construction is also expected to continue to grow. As the baby boomers reach their peak earning years and can afford to spend more on housing, demand for larger homes with more amenities, as well as for second homes, will continue to rise. Some older, more affluent, members of the baby-boom generation will want townhouses and condominiums in conveniently located suburban and urban settings. At the same time, as the "echo boomers" (the children of the baby boomers) start to augment the younger age groups, the demand for starter homes and rental apartments also should increase.

Growth in demand for new-home construction will be tempered by consumers’ preference to perform home improvements and renovations—especially in attractive, established neighborhoods—rather than construct new homes. Many starter homes will be remodeled to appeal to more affluent, space- and amenity-hungry buyers. Also, as buyers trade up, some may prefer to remodel existing homes, rather than construct new homes.

Because construction—particularly office and retail construction—is sensitive to cyclical changes in the economy, architects will face especially strong competition for jobs or clients during recessions, and layoffs may ensue. Those involved in the design of institutional buildings, such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and correctional facilities, will be less affected by fluctuations in the economy.

Even in times of overall good job opportunities, however, there may be areas of the country with poor opportunities. Architects who are licensed to practice in one State must meet the licensing requirements of other States before practicing elsewhere. Obtaining licensure in other States, after initially receiving licensure in one State, is known as “reciprocity” and is much easier if an architect has received certification from the NCARB.