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So you want to be an… architect

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Rebekah Valero-Lee Building, Construction and Infrastructure

If you’re creative, well-organised and interested in helping shape the world around you, a career as an architect could be the perfect choice for you. Whether you’re working on individual properties or huge redevelopment schemes, as an architect you can watch as your ideas come to life.

If you’re interested in a career in architecture, the following information should give you a better idea of what this involves and what you need to enter the profession.

What qualifications would I need?

For a career as an architect it’s essential to have a degree. The usual entry route into architecture involves a minimum of 7 years in higher education and training. This 7 years is split into 3 separate steps.

Part 1

  • A full-time undergraduate degree in architecture, which takes 3 or 4 years
  • 12 months of supervised and recorded professional experience, usually taking place in an architectural practice (this is known as Stage 1)

Part 2

  • A further 2 years of study, for a diploma, further degree or Masters in architecture
  • A further 12 months of supervised and recorded professional experience (this is known as Stage 2)

Part 3

  • A professional examination, which includes a written and oral component, as well as assessment of the previous 24 months of practical experience

Once you’ve completed the above steps, you can register as an architect with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and apply for chartered status with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

What skills would I need?

Employers will be looking for a number of specific skills and attributes in potential employees, including:

  • Excellent design and drawing skills (you’ll be expected to have a portfolio demonstrating a broad mixture of work)
  • Design and CAD skills
  • Good analytical and mathematical abilities
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Commercial awareness
  • Time management skills and the ability to work under pressure to tight deadlines
  • Good communication and negotiation skills
  • Teamwork and leadership skills
  • Project management skills
  • An interest in buildings and the built environment

How much could I earn?

Architectural salaries vary depending on the location, sector and size of the organisation you’re working for, with salaries at their highest in London and the south east.

An architect assistant (part 1 or part 2) can earn between £18,000 and £27,000, and this can rise to £33,000 with experience. Recently qualified architects can earn between £32,000 and £38,000, rising to up to £46,000 as they become more experienced. Senior and associate architects can see their salary increase up to £65,000, while directors can earn anywhere up to £120,000.

(These figures are intended as a guideline only.)

What would my working hours and conditions be like?

As an architect, your contracted hours would usually be 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, you need to be prepared to work longer hours when needed, including evenings and weekends. You can expect to be based at an office, although your role will also involve time spent on-site.

Find out more about careers in building construction and infrastructure, or check out our latest job listings.