Architects use their technical and creative skills to design structures that suit the requirements of their clients

As an architect, you'll design new buildings, extensions or alterations to existing structures and advise on the restoration and conservation of old properties. You may work on individual buildings or on large redevelopment schemes, and your responsibility can extend to the design of the surrounding landscape and spaces.

Working closely with clients and users, you'll make sure that projected designs match requirements and are functional, safe and economical, and in some cases highly innovative. You'll usually control a project from start to finish and work with a number of construction professionals, including surveyors and engineers.


As an architect, you'll need to:

  • discuss the ideas, objectives, requirements and budget of a project, and in some cases help to select a site
  • consult with other professionals about design
  • assess the needs of the building and its users, advising the client on the practicality of their project
  • prepare and present feasibility reports and design proposals to the client
  • assess the impact on the local environment
  • use IT skills in design and project management, specifically using computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • keep within financial budgets and deadlines
  • produce detailed workings, drawings and specifications
  • specify the nature and quality of materials required
  • prepare tender applications and presentations
  • negotiate with contractors and other professionals
  • prepare applications for planning and building control departments
  • draw up tender documents for contracts
  • project manage and help to coordinate the work of contractors
  • control a project from start to finish
  • carry out regular site visits to check on progress and ensure that the project is running on time and to budget
  • resolve problems and issues that arise during construction
  • ensure that the environmental impact of the project is managed.


  • Your salary as a Part 1 architectural assistant is likely to be in the range of £20,000 to £25,000, rising to between £27,000 and £35,000 as a Part 2 architectural assistant, once you've got enough experience.
  • As a fully qualified (Part 3) architect, depending on your experience you could earn between £31,000 and £48,000.
  • At senior associate, partner or director you'll typically earn £44,000 to £70,000.

For more information on salaries in the architecture profession, see the RIBA Salary guide.

Your salary will vary according to the location, sector and size of your employing organisation, and are usually higher in London. Obtaining chartered status and gaining experience usually results in higher pay.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Your contracted working hours will generally be 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but you need to be prepared to work long hours, including evenings and weekends when a project demands it.

Part-time work or career breaks may be possible in some organisations, although they are uncommon.

What to expect

  • You'll mainly be office-based but will travel within the working day to visit clients and sites. Absence from home overnight is uncommon.
  • Appropriate safety equipment, such as protective boots and headgear, must be worn on site.
  • Self-employment or freelance work is possible, especially for experienced architects.
  • According to the Architects Registration Board (April 2023), the proportion of newly registered female architects has increased to 47%. However, women are still underrepresented in the profession overall. RIBA has relevant information on initiatives in equity, diversity and inclusion in the architecture profession.
  • A company car is not usually offered, but mileage for site visits may be payable.


It's common to complete a recognised degree in order to qualify. Many universities hold interviews with students prior to offering a place on an architecture course. Candidates are expected to have a portfolio demonstrating a broad mixture of work, including sketches, freehand drawings, photographs and models.

You must register with the statutory body, the Architects Registration Board (ARB), to legally use the title 'architect' in the UK.

Chartered architect status is available through membership of RIBA. It is not a legal requirement to be registered with RIBA to practise, though most do take up membership with the body.

The typical entry route into the architecture profession involves seven years' training in total, made up of five years' university study and two years' practical experience.

This usually consists of:

  • Part 1 - this is an approved first degree in architecture, which typically takes three or four years, or the work-based RIBA studio route or apprenticeship.
  • Stage 1 practical experience/year out (post Part 1) - usually 12 months in duration, this consists of supervised and recorded professional experience. This is commonly taken in architects' practices, but may be in any sector of the building industry, including construction and design, as long as the work is related to architecture and is supervised by a construction professional.
  • Part 2 - two years of further study to deepen your architectural knowledge. This can be completed as a two-year full-time university course or as work-based study, resulting in an award such as a BArch, Diploma or MArch.
  • Stage 2 practical experience - a minimum of 12 further months of supervised and recorded professional experience, to make up the 24 months required to sit the Part 3 examination.
  • Part 3 - an examination in professional practice and management, which students may take on completion of the above. This involves a written and oral examination as well as an assessment of your 24 months' practical experience. Once you've completed this examination, you can register as an architect with the ARB and apply to become a chartered member of RIBA.

There are alternative entry routes into this career, such as the RIBA Studio practice-based route or an architecture apprenticeship. RIBA Studio, delivered in partnership with Oxford Brookes University, is open for people who have a minimum of three years' experience working in an architectural practice. The programme is available at Part 1 and Part 2 level and is completed through self-study and distance learning while the candidate remains working full time in the practice.

RIBA does not currently offer conversion courses for graduates with non-accredited or unrelated degrees, but it is worth staying abreast of potential education and training reform. Graduates or architects with non-accredited or international qualifications in architecture may be able to undertake an assessment for equivalence with the ARB.

The ARB has launched a five-year Corporate Strategy 2022-2026, setting out the outcomes it wants to achieve within the profession.

See the ARB Student Handbook and the RIBA section on becoming an architect for more information.


You will need to show:

  • good design and drawing skills to demonstrate your flair for architecture
  • a strong imagination and the ability to think and create in three dimensions
  • sound analytical skills, accuracy, and attention to detail
  • a keen interest in buildings and the built environment - an insight into Building Information Modelling (BIM) will also be a significant advantage
  • excellent communication skills, written and oral, with the ability to liaise effectively with a range of other professionals
  • good organisational and negotiation skills
  • strong teamwork and leadership skills
  • an understanding of the relationship between people, buildings and the wider environment
  • an awareness of sustainability and waste management
  • a first-rate understanding of construction processes
  • commercial awareness and business acumen
  • reasonable mathematical skills
  • project management skills
  • excellent IT skills, including CAD skills.

Work experience

It's important to hone your drawing skills as much as possible, so practise drawing whenever you can. Model-making skills are also an advantage. Take an interest in publications or TV programmes about buildings, to keep up to date with the current trends in architecture and design.

Any pre-entry work experience in an architectural, design or construction environment is desirable and highly regarded by recruiters. Many firms offer internship opportunities over the summer break, which can provide invaluable experience.

Try to develop contacts in the industry, through work experience, academic departments, personal contacts and local representatives of professional bodies and associations. Joining one of the professional bodies, which usually offer free student membership, provides access to professional journals and information about vacancies.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


Private practices employ salaried architects and may eventually provide the opportunity for you to become a partner or associate. These can range from small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to much larger practices that will incorporate other professional areas, such as planning, urban design, construction or project management.

Central and local government also employ architects in their planning departments. Other employers include construction companies, commercial and industrial organisations and retailers and manufacturers. Teaching and research institutions are another option, as is self-employment as a consultant.

Look for job vacancies at:

Recruitment agencies also handle vacancies, and some specialise in architectural and creative roles, such as:

Professional development

RIBA manages a web-based Professional Experience Development Record (PEDR) for students undertaking the practical experience elements of an architect's training. This provides information and guidance and also contains an online diary facility, which you can use to keep a record of your practical experience. Records completed on the PEDR are required to be produced at the Part 3 final qualifying examination.

Most large firms offer structured training and encourage professional status. Attending internal and external training courses, relevant seminars and conferences is an effective way of keeping up to date with current issues and refreshing knowledge.

Chartered architects are required to complete a minimum of 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) every year to maintain their competence.

RIBA's core curriculum is made up of ten topics and you'll need to complete at least 20 hours of your CPD study from these:

  • architecture for social purpose
  • health, safety and wellbeing
  • business, clients and services
  • legal, regulatory and statutory compliance
  • procurement and contracts
  • sustainable architecture
  • inclusive environments
  • places, planning and communities
  • building conservation and heritage
  • design, construction and technology.

Career prospects

Gaining chartered membership of RIBA and undertaking agreed levels of CPD are key parts of career development and will enable your progression into more senior posts.

Architects with more than five years of chartered membership and who have demonstrated distinguished achievement in architecture may be awarded Fellow of RIBA status and entitled to use the affix FRIBA. Architects in Scotland can find useful career development information from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

Larger private practice firms generally offer more opportunities for advancement, although there is often no set career structure. In the public sector, career progression is influenced by the nature and responsibilities of public institutions. With experience, a considerable number of architects set up their own practices.

If you're interested in working abroad, you can find further information from the International Union of Architects.

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

success feedback

Thank you for rating the page