Penn State University

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Department of Architecture


There are approximately 85,000-90,000 licensed architects in the United States today, including some who are retired and others who are not working as architects. In addition, substantial numbers of non-licensed people are working in architectural offices. 

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An estimated 33,300 students are enrolled in schools of architecture in the United States; 16,000 are in five-year professional degree programs, 5,200 in professional master’s degree programs and 12,100 in pre-professional four-year programs.  In 1997, there were 3,028 five-year professional degrees and over 1,600 professional master’s degrees awarded. The pre-professional programs awarded 2,324 degrees in 1997. In Canada, there are approximately 7,000 licensed practitioners. 

These figures have remained fairly constant over the past five years even though the National Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook predicts an increase in architecturally related jobs over the next decade. Determining the demand for new employees is complicated by many factors, not the least of which is the apparent desire of many graduates to pursue a career other than one in an architecture office. This, coupled with the cyclical nature of construction activity and the unpredictability of national and world-wide economics five to eight years hence, make an accurate assessment of the future needs for architects very difficult. A good source for predicting future needs is the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Government. This book should be in your library.

The better graduates from professional programs have little difficulty finding a professional job opportunity, particularly if they have acquired some summer experience in an office or in building construction. Graduates with Building Information Modeling experience and/or advanced degrees are highly sought after. Often, various sectors of the country will be “booming” while other areas are in a state of near recession.

Beginning salaries for architecture interns also fluctuate widely, depending in part on geographical location, demand due to building activity, availability of applicants, and, most important, the capability of the individual applicant. A beginning intern architect typically earns $37,000-$43,100 (a national average of $39,500) per year according to the 2011 AIA Compensation Report. Since a new graduate must work as an intern architect and complete the Intern Development Program as well as pass the Architectural Registration Examination before becoming a registered architect, these starting salaries are for interns, not registered architects.

Remember your entire educational experience requires approximately eight to nine years of combined formal schooling and internship. Essentially, your internship salary allows you to earn an income while completing your on-the-job education. The 2011 AIA Compensation Reports indicated that the project managers in mid-sized firms earned $77,200 to $$97,800 annually. Partners in firms of 10-20 employees earned between $135,600 and $180,000 annually. Partners in large firms can earn several hundred thousand dollars annually. Remember, however, that this last group constitutes only a tiny percentage of the total.

Intern Development Program (IDP)

The Intern Development Program (IDP) is a profession-wide program that guides the training and development of intern architects. Every intern architect must complete 5,600 hours in a specified range of professional activities in addition to passing the Architectural Registration Examination prior to becoming an architect.

Completion of the IDP typically takes three to five years. Students can establish an IDP file with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). All students can start earning credit upon enrollment in an accredited professional degree architectural program. In some cases, students establishing eligibility with the NCARB may be able to earn IDP credit prior to enrollment in a professional degree program.

IDP frequently asked questions


NCARB IDP Guidelines

So get started as soon as you can!

For additional information:

Penn State Architecture School IDP Educational Coordinator

Nathaniel Quincy Belcher
121 Stuckeman Family Building
(814) 863-7358

National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)

To establish a NCARB Record File (and get started with IDP):

Handbook for Architects and Interns

The American Institute of Architects

The American Institute of Architecture Students

Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture

The Emerging Professionals Companion

Architectural Registration Examination Guidelines