Principal Architect

Lead a team of Junior Architects through projects.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$43,000 – $120,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Principal Architects do?

Principal Architects are the big boys on the job. You’ve paid your dues, you’ve made countless drawings, and you’ve become so skillful at your job that you now qualify to handle the big projects.

As a Principal Architect, you oversee the work of junior Architects, and perform a host of other project management duties. If you can think on your feet while being bombarded with requests from several directions, deal with both happy and irate clients, ensure that team members are promptly doing their tasks, analyze data to determine if the project will be completed on time, approve parts of the project that have to do with technical design, review and approve invoices, and function as the main contact of vendors—all in one day—then this career might be the one for you. And if you’ve already worked as an Architect on major projects, this might be the next step in your career path. This job is perfect for the individual who looks at stress not as a downside but rather as a driving force, who isn’t happy unless the plate is overflowing, and who gets an adrenaline rush from pushing architectural projects to completion.

You have to have an eye for design, and an ability to take your client’s vision and translate it into a concrete architectural plan. It goes without saying that you have to know how to draw construction plans and select building materials. But more than this, you need intimate knowledge of construction laws, including building codes, zoning laws, fire regulations, and other construction-related ordinances. Ensuring that projects are complying with these laws is often the Principal Architect’s responsibility.

Should I be a Principal Architect?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Persistent: You keep pushing through, even when faced with tough obstacles.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • How to become a Principal Architect

    Most Principal Architects have a Doctorate or a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaa393&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%2832%25%29|master%27s+%2836%25%29|doctorate+%2832%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,36
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