The following responses were contributed by Michael Hurd, licensed architect, 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.
Hurd, who works at the Department of Public Works in the D.C. Bureau of Design and Engineering is a 1963 graduate of McKinley High School. He received his B.S. degree in Architecture from Howard University in 1969 and a Masters of City Planning from Harvard University in 1973. NATURE OF THE WORK
"As a supervising architect, I supervise and direct three other architects in designing plans for buildings. When a project comes to my office, I determine a schedule for completion, assign an architect according to his abilities, and arrange a meeting for the architect and client to meet and discuss the design of the building to be constructed.
"Architects work for clients -- a government agency, private business, or personal clients. The client explains exactly what they want done on a building or what kind of building they want constructed. Then the architect begins designing. Once the preliminary plan is complete, the client and architect meet again to make sure the client agrees with the plan. Then the architect prepares the final drawing, and a specifications document, which details the materials and supplies to be used. Then we prepare a bid document for construction contractors to bid on. We hire the lowest-bidding contractor."
The "Occupational Outlook Handbook" from the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median income of salaried architects in 1984 at $28,600.
"I would suggest that, while in junior and senior high school, you concentrate on math, art and physical science courses, such as chemistry. Also, while in high school you should take mechanical drawing and architectual drafting courses.
"You can graduate from college with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in four or five years. Once you graduate, you have to serve a three year apprenticeship in the office of a licensed architect to qualify to take the Architecture Registration Exam.
"You can work on drawings and designs without having a license, but you don't have the authority to approve building permits."
MATCHING YOURSELF WITH THE WORK
"Creative people who are artistic and can visualize objects and space in three dimensions should do well in the architectural field. Also, from a business point of view, people who are confident in their own abilities and can sell their ideas and services, should do well.
"Since architects work with clients, translating the client's idea into graphic solutions, it is important that you be able to communicate well with people.
"The most rewarding aspect of the work, besides the fees you earn, is the opportunity to plan buildings which become a permanent part of the city."