If a fascinating, tough, inspirational, creative, innovative and future-shaping career appeals to you, then consider architecture
Architects design new buildings, extensions or alterations to existing buildings and advise on the restoration and conservation of old properties. They can work on individual buildings or on large redevelopment schemes, and can be responsible for the design of the surrounding landscape and spaces.
Working closely with clients and users, they make sure that projected designs match requirements and are functional, safe and economical. They usually control a project from start to finish and work with a number of construction professionals, including surveyors and engineers, producing drawings and specifications that the construction team works to.
There are three main types of architect:
As an architect, you’ll need to:
Salaries vary according to the location, sector and size of the 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.
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 generally uncommon.
It is essential to have a degree for this profession. Many universities hold interviews with students prior to offering a place on an architecture course. Potential students 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), in order to legally use the title 'architect' in the UK.
Chartered architect status is available through membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), although it is not a legal requirement to be registered with RIBA in order to practise.
This usually consists of:
You can apply for RIBA Chartered Membership once you complete Part III of your architecture training, although it is not a legal requirement to be registered with RIBA in order to practise as an architect.
The RIBA Examination in Architecture for Office-based Candidates 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. It is delivered in partnership with the School of Architecture - Oxford Brookes University.
The RIBA does not offer conversion courses for graduates with non-accredited or unrelated degrees. Graduates or architects with non-accredited or international qualifications in architecture may be able to undertake an assessment for equivalence with the Architects Registration Board.
You will need to show:
Students should generally practise drawing to enhance their skills. Model-making skills are also an advantage. It is important to take an interest in publications or TV programmes about buildings and to keep up to date with the current trends in architecture and design.
In addition to the professional experience required, any pre-entry work experience in an architectural, design or construction environment is desirable and is highly regarded by recruiters. Many firms offer internship opportunities over the summer vacation, which can offer invaluable experience.
Students should try to develop contacts in the industry, possibly 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.
Private practices employ salaried architects and may eventually provide the opportunity to become a partner or associate. These can range from small to medium-sized firms (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:
The RIBA manages a web-based Professional Education and Development Resource (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 students use to keep a record of their 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. The mandatory part of the RIBA's CPD curriculum is made up of ten topics.
Chartered architects must carry out at least two hours of study in each of these areas every year:
Gaining chartered membership of the RIBA and undertaking agreed levels of CPD are key parts of career development and will enable progression to 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.