Senior Architect Job Description
Senior Architects are architects whose experience in the industry allows them to take on increased responsibility. Like other architects, they design buildings and make sure they are structurally sound. But due to their track record of quality performance, Senior Architects also serve as managers, mentors, advisors and coordinators. They guide their team, but they also work with clients and company leaders to ensure the overall success of a project.
Senior Architects typically operate out of an office, but they also spend time on construction sites. If a deadline is nearing or a problem arises, Senior Architects may need to work overtime. Employment of architects is very dependent on the activity of the construction industry. Thus, job prospects for Senior Architects rise during times when new structures are being built and decline during construction slowdowns.
Senior Architect Duties and Responsibilities
Senior Architects are both supervisors and sources of knowledge. They oversee the work of others, act as liaisons and solve problems when they arise. From our analysis of job postings, some of the core responsibilities for Senior Architects as they guide construction from design to reality include:
Tackle Complex Projects
Because of their years of experience, Senior Architects often get assigned the most challenging projects. For instance, they may design a whole assisted-living facility or a shopping complex. Estimating costs, choosing materials, creating a time framework and scheduling workers are some of the necessary tasks.
Senior Architects interact with various people. They talk with clients to learn about their needs and objectives. They discuss ideas and strategies with other company leaders. They solicit feedback from their team. They bring in consultants as needed to provide specific expertise.
Plans must not only please the client but also comply with government regulations and zoning codes. Senior Architects make sure that what is being constructed is both legal and safe, which may involve research and consulting experts such as engineers and fire inspectors.
Actions among the various individuals and groups contributing to a construction project need to be coordinated to stay on track and on budget. Senior Architects help to supervise and maintain workflow so that schedules do not get interrupted. When consultants are brought in, Senior Architects look over their designs and suggestions to see how they fit in with the overall project.
Senior Architect Skills
Since Senior Architects guide teams, they must be strong leaders with outstanding interpersonal skills. Their ability to bring out the best in others and get everyone working as a cohesive unit can make or break a project. Other abilities frequently found among those in the profession include:
- Communicating clearly so that information gets delivered accurately
- Listening to others to solicit opinions, spot potential pitfalls and confirm everyone is on the same page
- Providing feedback to subordinates to keep them motivated and to rectify small problems before they become large ones
- Multitasking to deal with competing demands
- Attending to detail to ensure safety and legality
- Keeping up in the industry in response to new technology, best practices and changes in codes
Tools of the trade
Many different tools are required for Senior Architects to perform their job. Among the most commonly used are:
- AutoCAD – Software that enables creation of precise 2D and 3D drawings
- WaterCAD – Software that helps to plan and design water distribution systems
- Blueprints – Design plans or technical drawings showing what will be created
- Building codes – Location-specific regulations governing the design, construction, alteration and maintenance of structures to ensure safety – such as minimum standards that must be met when putting in new pipework
Senior Architect Education and Training
Senior Architects possess at least a bachelor’s degree in a field such as architecture, engineering or design. Many hold master’s degrees, often in construction management. Each state has its own licensing requirements, and Senior Architects must fulfill those obligations in order to work. Experience is a big part of becoming a Senior Architect. By the time someone reaches this stage, he or she has likely held a college internship and worked for many years as a professional architect.
Senior Architect Resources
We’ve made it easy to learn more about a career as a Senior Architect. Check out these organizations and books:
The American Institute of Architects – With more than 90,000 members, this organization is a go-to place for all questions related to architecture. Its website covers a range of topics, including history, firm management, design and health, sustainability and social impact. The careers section includes licensing basics, scholarships and grants, continuing education information and a job board. Have a particular area of interest? Consider joining one of AIA’s 21 “knowledge communities” to stay on top of your field and connect to others who share your passion.
Study Architecture – Touted as a “one-stop resource for undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in the architecture profession,” this site (sponsored by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) serves as a forum for students, faculty and working architecture professionals to share ideas and information.
ARCHITECT – This LinkedIn group “connects design professionals by exchanging ideas, developing contacts and sharing information.” With nearly 150,000 members, you’re sure get the inside scoop on a career as a Senior Architect.
Careers in Architecture and Construction by Barbara Sheen – Written for young readers, this guide explores the many possibilities that exist for those interested in occupations dealing with architecture and construction.
Becoming an Architect (Guide to Careers in Design) – By the time you finish reading this book, you’ll have a better idea if you’re cut out for a career in architecture. Reviewers stress that the Q&A with architecture students and licensed architects is helpful and that the book answers both basic questions about what an architect does as well as more complicated concerns regarding education, licensing and careers.
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