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Architectural lighting designer

Architectural lighting designers develop the concepts, plans, and specifications for indoor and outdoor lighting systems for the built environment. They combine the knowledge of art, science, engineering, physiology, psychology, and business to provide high-quality illumination to improve the visual appeal, environmental performance, and social equity of places and buildings.

Source O*Net
Quick facts: Architectural lighting designer
2019 Median Pay $68,890 per year; $33.12 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Number of Jobs, 2019 42,200
Job Outlook, 2019-29 - 1%
Employment Change, 2019-29 3,400

In the green building realm, architectural lighting designers integrate daylighting and electric lighting concepts to provide exceptional visual quality, but also environmentally and socially beneficial spaces. Architectural lighting designers work with architects, building systems engineers, other consultants, facility managers, and community stakeholders to develop lighting designs, documentation, and specifications to meet the aesthetic, practical, and budgetary requirements of each project. This includes the consideration of the long-term, life-cycle environmental and social impacts of the recommended luminaires and lighting equipment, as well as effects on human health and wellness.

Role on a LEED project

LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building types, LEED provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.

Architectural lighting design has an impact on several LEED credit categories, but particularly the categories of Sustainable Sites,  Energy & Atmosphere, and Indoor Environmental Quality.

How to become an architectural lighting designer

A bachelor’s degree in architectural lighting design, theatrical lighting design, architecture, interior design, or electrical engineering is usually required for most entry-level architectural lighting design jobs. It is also important to have a portfolio with examples of exemplary academic and/or professional design projects. Most design programs include the courses for the skills that architectural lighting designers need: illumination design theory and engineering, photometric modeling and calculation techniques, lighting technology and manufacturing methods, architectural and interior design process, and graphics sketching and computer-aided design techniques. Coursework in environmental studies and/or sustainability will help provide important context for sustainable design.

Many schools require successful completion of some basic art and design courses before entry into a bachelor's degree program. Applicants also may need to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability. Important skills include creativity, three-dimensional visualization, critical thinking, active listening, and complex problem-solving.

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