The following responses were contributed by William H. Reeves, Jr., AIA, in response to a questionnaire circulated by The Washington Post. The material is intended to provide students with an idea of what working as an architect might be like, as well as some steps the student can take to prepare now for a career in that field.

Reeves, who works at Walton, Madden, Cooper Architects, Inc. in Landover, is a 1973 graduate of Bladensburg High School. He received his B.S. degree in Architecture from Catholic University in 1981, and his Masters degree in Architecture from Catholic in 1983.


"As a project architect, I am put in charge of a project after the basic design has been approved by the owner. My role then is 'design development,' which is, basically, the process of developing a building from the theoretical stage {drawings} into the final product. Then, working from the contract documents {once referred to as 'blueprints'}, I handle the details of how the building comes together, such as what materials to use, floor plans, sizes, elevations, what adjustments need to be made, and how to make the project cost-effective."

The "Occupational Outlook Handbook" from the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median income of salaried architects in 1984 at $28,600.


"You would need a minimum of a four-year {undergraduate college} degree to be a licensed architect, though some jurisdictions require a five-year {professional} degree. Many students and most graduates work as "draftsmen" {the ones who draw the actual sketches} until they can pass the A.R.E. {Architecture Registration Exam}. You can't legally use the title 'architect' until you pass the exam, which is given every June.

"In high school, art and drafting classes are helpful, and most architecture colleges require some degree of math and physics. It's not a must to be a talented artist or have a background in drafting, but it's a good idea."


"Architecture is not an easy curriculum to do well at in school, and much of the grading is very subjective. There are times when the work can get tedious, and there can be a lot of pressure if you're working under a deadline. Architects tend be well-organized, and dedicated, and it's important to be able to think abstractly.

"There's nothing quite like the feeling of walking into a building you've designed. Being able to appreciate the finished product is the main reason you go through all the headaches; and it makes all the work worthwhile."