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How to Become a Senior Architect/Designer

Do you enjoy building and designing? If so, becoming a senior architect/designer could be a fulfilling career path for you. Senior architects/designers lead architectural projects and oversee junior members of their design team. To excel in this role, you will need good communication and leadership skills.

Sample job description

Senior architects/designers are experienced in their roles. To be a good candidate, you will need to have worked on a variety of projects, including designing and building different structures, such as stadiums, schools, malls, and homes. Senior architects/designers are found consulting with clients, setting up team meetings, and creating 3D blueprints of buildings with AutoCAD throughout the day to help complete projects.

This job opportunity is perfect for any advanced architect or designer looking to take on more responsibility in the workplace. You will learn to direct and guide others to finish projects that will leave customers happy. The more successful you are at your job, the more clients you will attract and the bigger projects you will receive.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Lead and guide a team of junior staff members
  • Collaborate with the team in developing creative design solutions
  • Review project documents for quality assurance
  • Interact and consult with clients
  • Lead team in project design and documentation from start to finish
  • Plan, coordinate and manage project deliverables
  • Oversee project financial performance
  • Innovate new ways to raise the bar for the team and the company

Education and experience

  • This position requires a bachelor’s degree in architecture or a related field and at least five years of experience as an architect or engineer. 

Required skills and qualifications

  • Project management experience
  • Strong leadership and collaborative skills
  • Client and consultant coordination ability
  • Presentation expertise
  • Proficient in AutoCAD and other related software and design platforms
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Organized, detail-oriented, and self-starting

Typical work environment

Senior architects/designers spend most of their time in offices overseeing the design of architectural projects. In a typical day, they may meet with team members and engineers, or visit construction sites to ensure that the project is progressing as scheduled and is on pace with clients’ directives. Some architects may work from home one or more days a week.   

Typical hours

Typical hours for this position are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Available certifications

Senior architects/designers typically work for architectural or engineering firms, residential or commercial construction companies, or the government. Many institutions offer certifications that can help sharpen their skills. Here are two of the best certifications for senior architects/designers: 

Certified Professional Building Designer (CPBD). The CPBD exam verifies that you have proven skills in business management, building structure design, building code requirements, and building science needed to be successful as an architect/designer. Subjects covered in the exam include architectural styling, structural engineering and construction principles, materials and methods, and more. Yearly recertification is required by completing 8 continuing education credits. 

Designated Design-Build Professional Certification. The Designated Design-Build Professional program is designed to show that architectural professionals have met the accepted and recognized education standard for experience, knowledge, and expertise in design-build project delivery. A combination of education and experience is required for certification. The exam covers project management, contracts and legal, estimating specifications, and much more. Certification must be renewed every 2 years.

Career path

Senior Architects/Designers typically reach this level through producing outstanding work, gaining experience over multiple years, and taking on leadership roles at their firm or organization. All architects need to earn a license from the licensing board of the state where they plan to practice.

Other ways to stand out in the architecture field include further schooling beyond a bachelor’s degree and passing the Architect Registration Examination®, created to assess knowledge and skills in the practice of architecture.  

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 17-1011

2020 Employment126,700
Projected Employment in 2030130,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 3% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift39,000 increase

With a large number of students graduating with degrees in architecture, there will be stiff competition for internships and jobs in the field. As in many occupations, those at or nearing senior levels in this field can be expected to wear leadership hats — including overseeing junior team members and playing the role of client liaison as needed — in addition to completing their own work. 

The typical work hours for a Senior Architect/Designer are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., generally in an office setting, with after-hours or weekend hours as needed.