Architecture is an amazing thing - it has the power to change people's lives. As an Architect you will design buildings and assist with the construction process, using innovative techniques to change and redefine our buildings and civil spaces.
Video: - Kester: Architect
Video: - Sarah: Design Manager
As an Architect you will be involved in the whole construction process from the planning and design of buildings through to their completion. You may work on a wide variety of projects, ranging from making changes to existing buildings to creating whole new housing estates.
The construction process begins with a brief, which the customer and you decide together. The brief indicates the type of building required, what it will be used for and the amount it is expected to cost.
Before the design stage begins, you might look into the needs and opinions of those people who will work in, live in or use the building.
Most buildings are the result of a team effort and once you become an experienced Architect you might act as project leader, discussing ideas with a group of professionals, bringing their work together, both on time and within budget.
Once ideas have been agreed and finalised, you will produce sketches and plans of the exterior and interior, which show the size that the building needs to be and the materials that are to be used.
After the client accepts your design for a building, you will produce more detailed technical drawings for use by the building contractor. In some cases, Architectural Technicians may do this. At this stage, you may be involved in talks with Town Planners and Building Control Officers regarding planning permission and aspects of health and safety.
As building work progresses, you'll visit the site regularly to check that the work is progressing according to the original drawings and plans.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become an Architect, you'll need:
- an interest in design and some artistic ability
- creativity and the imagination to produce something that is visually pleasing and suited to its environment
- the ability to think through and solve problems
- strong presentation skills, as you will have to present your ideas to a wide variety of people
- to be a well-organised person with good planning skills
- knowledge of business technology
- IT skills, especially experience of using CAD software
- a keen eye for detail
- good people skills
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £31,500 - £35,000
- With experience: £36,000 - £41,000
- Senior Architects earn £46,000 - £51,000
Hours of work
You will work 39 hours a week with occasional weekend and evening work according to the demands of the project.
Where could I work?
- private practices
- local government architectural or planning departments
- central government departments
- construction companies
- research practices
- manufacturing companies
- the health service
Opportunities for Architects occur in practices in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Opportunities also occur for Architects to work on projects in other countries, for example, in Canada, Ireland and in the Middle East.
Opportunities occur for Architects to also work as independent consultants, for example, in education and in research.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Find a Job, and at Jobcentre Plus.
Entry Routes and Training
It takes a minimum of seven years to train to become an Architect and there are three key stages to the training:
- five year degree programme - you'll need to complete a five-year degree programme in architecture, on a course that is recognised by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Architects Registration Board (ARB)
- a minimum of two years' work experience in an Architect's practice
- professional architectural examination - Examiners will assess how you did in your work experience. Typically, you'll be assessed on a case study of a project you've worked on with a written exam, and then finally, an oral exam.
You might be able to get onto a Degree Apprenticeship which could provide you with an opportunity to complete all three stages.
Once you've completed all of the training stages, you'll need to register with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). The title 'Architect' is protected under the Architects Act 1997 and anyone who wishes to use the title in business or practice must be registered with the ARB.
It is also possible to become an Architect by studying part-time on day-release. To begin these courses, you will usually need to have a number of years' work experience in an Architect's office.
A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article '
Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
You will need a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card to work on site. These cards show that you are qualified to do the work you've been employed for.
CSCS cards will cost £36 and you will have to pass the appropriate Construction Industry Training Board health, safety and environmental test. This costs £21. You will then complete an application form and pay the total price of £57.
The CSCS application form has four sections that you will have to complete:
- section A: This section is where you complete your personal details and attach a passport photo or your Health, Safety & Environment Test photo
- section B: This is where you fill in your occupation details and state which card you need. The different cards are skilled, craft and operative cards.
- section C: This a declaration section where your current employer, previous employer or a CSCS card holder will declare that you meet the requirements of the card
- section D: This is the details of your card requirements and what evidence you need to get a CSCS card
Experience of using BIM tools such as AutoCAD or Revit whilst working in a design environment, will help you to stand out from the crowd. Project management skills are also highly valued in this career.
With experience, it is possible to become an Associate, and then a Partner in an Architect's firm. Some set up their own practices.
To become self-employed as a freelancer or join a partnership, you will usually need to have several years' professional experience.
For entry to a degree course in architecture, you'll need:
- 2/3 A levels
- GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in your A level subjects
- a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths
Other qualifications are often acceptable as alternatives to A levels, for example:
- BTEC level 3 qualification (a subject such as 3D design or building services engineering would be very useful)
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
However, entry requirements for different courses vary, so check university websites for more details.
To get onto a Degree Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least 2 A levels, but again, entry requirements will vary.
The entry requirements for professionally-recognised courses will vary from school to school. For example, some schools ask for a maths and science pass at A level. Contact individual schools of architecture for full entry details. The Architects Registration Board website has an up-to-date list of all courses recognised for registration purposes.
A portfolio of sketches or drawings is required as evidence that you have the potential to learn the technical drawing required for architecture.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Candidates need to be aware that it usually takes seven years to become professionally qualified.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course could be the way in.
These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.
A number of schools offer part-time Royal Institute of British Architects-validated courses, so students can train in architecture while earning a salary.
If you have gained a minimum of three years' experience in an architectural practice and have suitable qualifications, you can study for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Examination for Office-based Candidates. This is studied by distance learning and consists of two parts. Part 1 normally takes four years to complete, and part 2 two years.
This can be followed with the RIBA exam in Professional Practice and Management, available via distance learning at Oxford Brookes University, leading to registration with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and/or chartered membership of the RIBA.
A portfolio of art work is required for entry to courses.
Scholarships, bursaries and other awards are available from RIBA.
Local government vacancies
myjobscotland: Scottish local government vacancies
Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
Address: Englemere, Kings Ride, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7TB
Tel: 01344 630700
Skills for the construction industry
Address: Bircham Newton, Kings Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
Address: 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD
Tel: 020 7580 5533
Architectural Association (AA) School of Architecture
Address: 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES
Tel: 020 7887 4000
Architects Registration Board (ARB)
Address: 8 Weymouth Street, London W1W 5BU
Tel: 020 7580 5861
National Heritage Training Group (NHTG)
Address: Carthusian Court, 12 Carthusian Street, London EC1M 6EZ
Tel: 01342 326171
Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA)
Address: 2 Mount Charles, Belfast BT7 1NZ
Tel: 028 9032 3760
Northern Ireland Enquiries
Address: Nutts Corner Training Centre, 17 Dundrod Road, Crumlin, County Antrim BT29 4SR
Tel: 028 9082 5466
Construction Employers Federation (CEF)
Address: 143 Malone Road, Belfast BT9 6SU
Tel: 028 9087 7143
Queen's University Belfast
Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Address: Bircham Newton, Kings Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH
Tel: 0844 5768777
Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)
Address: 15 Rutland Square, Edinburgh EH1 2BE
Tel: 0131 2297545
Architecture and Design Scotland
Address: Bakehouse Close, 146 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DD
Tel: 0131 5566699
Tel: 0344 994 4010
UK Schools of Architecture with courses validated by RIBA
Publisher: Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)
Address: Blue Court, Church Lane, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire WD4 8JP
Tel: 01923 260000