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I want to be an architect. What will my salary be?

Architects do more than design buildings, they help oversee construction and do plenty of analysis.

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Job: Architect

Salary: Starts at about $40,000 coming out of school, and can grow to about $90,000 after years of experience. Architects who start their own independent practices can earn more, depending on the success of the business.

Education: A university degree in architecture from an institution accredited by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board. Degree programs can last five to seven years, according to the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC).

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The role: Architects design buildings, but that's only a small part of the job, says Allan Teramura, a RAIC regional director and partner at Ottawa-based Watson MacEwen Teramura Architects. Architects also help to oversee construction, and spend a lot of time doing analysis and studies. Architects can start their day wearing a suit in a boardroom and finish it wearing a hard hat and steel-toed boots on a construction site.

By the numbers: There were about 15,255 architects in Canada in 2011, according to Statistics Canada. That's up from about 14,000 in 2006. About half of architects are 45 or older. Nearly one-third of architects in Canada are self-employed.

Job prospects: Positive. Schools are producing graduates at a rate the industry can absorb, according to Mr. Teramura. With a number of baby boomers retiring in the coming years, while construction growth increases across Canada, demand for people in this profession is expected to keep growing.

Challenges: "It's a difficult thing to learn to do well," Mr. Teramura says. Plus, it requires a combination of skills beyond drawing up blueprints. Architects need to be good communicators who can instill confidence in the white- and blue-collar professionals with whom they work, as well as the broader community, Mr. Teramura says.

Why they do it: "For most people, it's a creative profession," that allows people to connect with the public on a regular basis, Mr. Teramura says. Plus, you get the satisfaction of seeing something built that you designed.

Misconceptions: The Hollywood image of the high-paid architect drinking cocktails and travelling the world is a myth, Mr. Teramura says. It's a much more modest profession with little glamour and few dealings with idiosyncratic clientele. "The reality is, we have our sleeves rolled up working with clients like hospitals and schools."

Give us the scoop: Are you an architect in Canada? Write a note in the comments area of this story or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com and let us know what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.

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Brenda Bouw is a freelance writer and editor based in Vancouver. She has more than 20 years of experience as a business reporter, including at The Globe and Mail, The Canadian Press, the Financial Post and was executive producer at BNN (formerly ROBTv). Brenda was also part of the Globe and Mail reporting team that won the 2010 National Newspaper Award for business journalism. More

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