What Does an Architect Do?

Featured image_ What Does an Architect Do

When you hear the word “architect” you may picture someone working at a drafting table or wearing a hard hat at a construction site, but what do they really do? In this article, we’re going to clear the air on what exactly a job in architecture looks like. Some of you may think it’s similar to an engineer, but in fact, it’s quite different! If you’ve ever thought about studying architecture, or just want a better idea of what they do, check out this article!

Architect as Conductor

The primary role of practicing architects is similar to musical conductors, but for buildings. The conductor knows what each of the instruments should be playing, but they may not be a master at each individual instrument. In a way, architects have to be a “jack of all trades.” On top of having an understanding of code, architects must be familiar with all aspects of the project like HVAC, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and details. They serve as the middleman between the client and the contractor. It is their job to break everything down and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Architect as a conductor

Although there are parts of engineering that architects can do, they don’t necessarily work on the structural engineering of the building. Unless they are more on the technical track, they probably won’t work on the structural engineering for a building because it is a liability. Instead, they will hire a sub-consultant like a structural engineer or a civil engineer to advise them on what to do. From there, the architect becomes the conductor to make sure that all parts of the team work together and make sense for the client.

Architect and structural engineering

When construction starts, it is the architect’s job to make sure the contractor is adhering to what has been designed and drawn. The drawings the Architects create communicate the design intent to the contractor. The contractor is then obligated to build to that design intent. Sometimes things can get overlooked on a drawing, so it is the architect’s responsibility to be on-site and point out certain details to try and make the process as smooth as possible.

architect on site


With all of that said, an architect really has two main responsibilities:

1. Do the design. Make sure that everything makes sense from a functional and aesthetic point of view

2. Coordinate all of the sub-consultants. Make sure that all of the teams involved are on the same page and their respective designs work together.

Hopefully, this answered some of your questions on what architects really do. If there are still some things you’re not sure of, leave a question in the comments, we would love to hear from you! Be sure to check out our tutorials so you can learn some skills architects use! And check out our study resources if you’re on the path to becoming an architect yourself!

Happy Hacking!


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  9. RJennings April 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you for this website. The practice questions are helpful.

  10. Scott March 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    Taking this test on Saturday. Last 4.0 exam to complete for the trio, then on to 5.0. This site is my go-to place when organizing what materials I’ll be studying

  11. shozab January 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

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  15. tylerstockholm December 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Nice one… very helpful! Thanks!!!

  16. Aartiwalvekar November 21, 2017 at 8:56 am #

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  17. Aartiwalvekar October 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    Great post!

  18. Tony August 30, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    In the NCARB ARE 5.0 handbook they reference Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods in both of their example questions for cost estimating. Unfortunately there isn’t a specific chapter on cost estimating, it’s woven throughout the content.

  19. Spencer August 30, 2017 at 1:15 am #

    What is the best reference for cost estimating for PDD.

  20. Amy July 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks! Great advice

  21. Tony June 29, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    Deciduous trees should only be used for shade (especially in temperate climates). Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and will have little protection against wind in the winter when it is most needed. Likewise, the leafless trees allow solar heat gain in the winter when it is desired, and shade in the summer.

    Coniferous trees are only to be used to block wind and views. Since they don’t lose their needles, they work great for these two items year-round.

  22. Shahid Logan June 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Hello. My name is Shahid. This comment is for anyone who would like to reply. On the Siteplanning test. To block the wind, can you use a Deciduous tree or must you use a Coniferous tree?

  23. Mike January 4, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Tony,

    I need to take 5.0 PPD & PDD. Do you plan on posting notes such as “Caroline’s Notes” that you had posted for the various 4.0 exams for either of those sections? I found those notes to be some of the best resources in studying for the 4.0 sections. If so any idea when? Thanks

  24. Stephen October 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Tony,
    Any updates on the SS exam ? If there’s an expected release date ? Thanks

  25. DesignerHacks October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm #


    We are releasing practice exams for the SS exam later this fall.


  26. Paige October 4, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  27. Daniel September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    Great post, very helpful with the lists of suggested materials, I just passed CDs in July and am taking PPP in November so I definitely needed the list.

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