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Answer: While still in high school, you should plan a strong college preparatory program with courses in English, humanities subjects, mathematics, including geometry, trigonometry, algebra, and pre-calculus, and physics.

Art courses - drawing, painting, sculpture, or photography - will be helpful in developing your ability to visualize and conceptualize, both important skills to an architect.

Elective courses in computers and business will be extremely helpful in preparing for a career in architecture.

Answer: If you dream of designing houses and other small buildings, but don't want to spend the years it takes to become a registered architect, then you may want to explore career opportunities in the field of Building Design. A Professional Building Designer, or Home Designer, specializes in designing light-frame buildings such as single family homes and agricultural buildings. A Professional Building Designer may also design decorative facades for larger buildings.

Unlike architects, Professional Building Designers are not legally required to pass exams or receive special licenses. However, a designer who carries the title "Certified Professional Building Designer" or "CPBD" has completed training courses, built a portfolio, and passed a difficult exam.

Training Courses
Your first step in becoming a Professional Building Designer is to enroll in training courses in architecture or structural engineering. You may take classes at an accredited school of architecture, at a vocational school, or even through a correspondence school. Seek courses and training that will give you a broad background in construction, problem solving, and architectural design. In lieu of academic training, you may study architecture or structural engineering on the job, under the supervision of a building designer, architect, or structural engineer.

To find courses, workshops, seminars, and other training programs, see the listing of Official CEU Providers on the Web site for the National Council of Building Design Certification (NCPBD). Also see Before You Choose an Architecture School for links to accredited architecture schools and architecture training programs.

On-the-job Training
On-the-job training is essential to receive certification as a Professional Building Designer. Use the career resources center at your school and/or online job listings to locate an internship or entry level position where you can work with architects, structural engineers, or building designers. Begin building a portfolio with working drawings for design projects. Once you have accumulated several years of training through coursework and on-the-job training, you will be eligible to take a certification exam.

Certification Exam
You are not legally required to become certified in order to work as a house designer. However, earning certification will make it easier for you to find a job in the field. In the United States, Professional Building Designers are certified by the National Council of Building Design Certification (NCPBD). When you apply for certification, you will be asked for letters of reference and a portfolio. Once these are approved, you will need to take a two-day certification exam. The exam questions will cover many phases of construction, design, and problem solving. You will be permitted to refer to several approved reference books as you take the exam. The exam is timed, so you will have only a few minutes to complete each question.

Whether or not you aspire to become certified, you may find it helpful to look at sample questions from the certification exam. These questions will show you the types of courses and training you will need to obtain in order to find work designing houses.

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