6 Key Skills for a Successful Career in Architectural Design

What does it take to do well in architectural design training, and build a successful career in the field?

The truth is, there's no one, simple answer. Every student we work with brings their own unique set of experiences, raw talent, and future goals to the table.

During training, each one discovers which aspect of architectural design they're strongest at and love the most—which in the end, defines the career path they follow after graduation.

That being said, there are some basic, fundamental skills almost every student will need to feel comfortable in training, and build a successful career in architectural design.

This blog post is for anyone who's considering training in this field, but wants to make sure they're a good fit before enrolling in a program.

We interviewed Herzing's very talented, highly experienced architectural design instructor, Jacob Allerdrice, to pin down these 6 key architectural design skills—so if they sound like you, you can be sure you're on the right track.

Let's get started.


 Architectural Design Skill #1: True Passion for Art & Design

When we asked Jacob what he considered the most important characteristic for success in this field, he said without hesitation:

"If there is one element that is truly essential for an architectural designer to be happy and successful, it is a driving interest and aptitude in art and design.

Passion is key. Technical drafting and problem-solving skills can be taught in class, but no teacher can give you a real passion for this kind of work.

And by passion, we mean you're interested in architectural trends, creative design ideas, and how the structures around us impact our lives.

Maybe you follow some leading architects and designers on Twitter, regularly check out blog posts on building and design trends, love sketching out your own ideas, experimenting with design software, etc.

You have a "feel" for this kind of work. You're interested in working closely with architects, engineers, builders, and clients, helping to create exciting and innovative designs.

Related: What Exactly Does an Architectural Drafter Do?


Architectural Design Skill #2: Know What Strengths You Bring to the Table

Do you have a background in construction?

Your knowledge of the building process will definitely help you during architectural design training. And once you're working in the field, you'll be excellent at overseeing clients' projects onsite, and making sure they are constructed correctly.

Do you enjoy working with computers? Quick to learn new software? You'll do really well at the technical aspects of design, and learning programs like AutoCAD and Revit (which are used to create 2D and 3D drawings, building models, etc.)

Are you a talented visual artist? You'll love the process of rendering and presenting new design concepts, and could definitely build on this strength during training and at work.

Have experience in business management? You could be the ideal person to set up and run your own design business. You'll have a good sense for the strategy, financial, marketing, and client services aspect of this work.

Think about the unique strengths you'd bring to the architectural design classroom. What aspect of design would you enjoy most?

Jacob says the program he teaches attracts people from all walks of life, each with their own talents and goals:

"Herzing’s architectural design program appeals to students from many different backgrounds. Our classes are lively and diverse—and students often learn as much from each other as they do from the teacher, which is a great advantage." 


Architectural Design Skill #3: Mastering Cutting-edge Design Tools

You won't find work in architectural design without solid training in the latest computer software for designers. Every job posting you'll see will demand proficiency with AutoCAD, Revit, and Microsoft programs.

You'll spend a good deal of time in training learning these tools, so you're completely comfortable producing design documents and models by the time you graduate.

And even after training, you'll need to keep up-to-date with new technology, and continue building your knowledge of popular programs like Sketchup, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign.

Hate sitting at a computer? Can't stand learning how to use new software? Architectural design is probably not your true calling!


Architectural Design Skill #4: Teamwork & Communication

Architectural designers don't work in isolation. They're part of a team. As a technician, you'll work under a lead designer, deal with clients, and coordinate with builders to make sure projects are on track.

You could easily find yourself working at a small, specialized architectural firm with fewer than 20 employees. Teamwork and strong communication skills (polite, diplomatic, flexible) are a must to succeed in this field.


Architectural Design Skill #5: Organized and Meticulous

Design work is all about the details. Once the general concept has been discussed and agreed upon, it will be your job to map it out with highly detailed drawings, renderings, blueprints, etc.

There's really no room for error when it comes to measurements, dimensions, plumbing and electrical layouts, surfaces, materials, etc. Mistakes of this kind can cost your employer big in time and money.

Successful architectural designers are extremely meticulous people. They double (or triple) check their work. They are highly detail-oriented and focussed.

And don't forget, as a designer, it will be your job to ensure your designs adhere to building code regulations. You need to know those codes inside and out (you'll study the Ontario Building Code during your architectural design training).

Plus, for each project, you'll need to organize applying for and getting the right permits, or the job won't be able to move forward.

And once building starts, you'll be watching construction very closely, to ensure the work perfectly matches what is laid out in your design.

All of this takes skills in planning, organization, and observation.


Architectural Design Skill #6: Creative Problem-solving

This is a really key skill for building a successful career in architectural design. Creative problem-solving is at the heart of what designers do.

Whether your client wants to save costs (without compromising their vision), or you need to resolve a technical design issue—you'll be solving problems all day long as a design and drafting technician.

Creativity is helpful here, but so is perseverance and patience. Sometimes your design will need to be re-worked several times before it finally gets approved.

Or, there may be a last-minute building issue or client request that forces you to alter your design—which can be very challenging.

No matter what comes up, you must be ready to roll up your sleeves and find a solution that works for everyone. Flexibility and open-mindedness are big assets in this field, as well as total commitment to high quality design work.

We could go on, and highlight even more skills you'll learn during training (and use out in the field), but by now, you probably have a good sense of whether this path is right for you.


Ready to take the next step and learn more about earning your diploma in architectural design?

We're here to answer any questions you have about training, scheduling your courses, financial aid, and career options.

Chat live with an Advisor right now, or click below to explore the program in greater detail.

Learn More About Architectural Design Training at Herzing



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