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Architects have the challenging and extremely satisfying job of bringing whole new buildings into the world and saving, restoring or changing the ones we already have.


Average salaries are in the region of £35,000.00 to £50,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

Architects have the challenging and extremely satisfying job of bringing whole new buildings into the world and saving, restoring or changing the ones we already have. From creating radical new structures to conserving important old buildings, it is a job at the very heart of our built environment.

What they do

An architect can use their skills in a series of projects, from designing new housing in ordinary streets for people who need homes, to landmark buildings such as the London Shard that dominate famous skylines. Work can be on single buildings or large redevelopment schemes and sometimes design the surrounding landscape too.

They may also work on just one element of an existing building, or give advice on the restoration and conservation of existing properties. This could be anything; from a tower block from the 1960s to a centuries-old castle.

An architect creates a design that meets the clients’ requirements and takes into account a range of other issues. Once a design is agreed, it’s time to make it a reality.

Further detailed drawings are done for the contractor, complete with exact measurements and the building materials needed. The architect works closely with contractors, engineers, surveyors, lawyers and planning departments as the building goes up, inspecting the project as they go.

The architect is responsible for a construction project from the moment they start jotting down ideas to when it’s ready for people to use. On a bigger job, they work in a team alongside other architects and architectural technicians or technologists (who are in charge of getting all the technical details spot on).

The architect is at the very heart of the construction process and this role is crucial to the construction process and involves working to tough deadlines. Architects often work from an office, but also visit clients, building sites, planning departments and construction companies.

Senior architects are called in on any big or complicated construction project that needs a lot of experience and expertise to get right. He or she leads a team of architects throughout each phase of a building's design and construction.

This is one of the most responsible construction jobs, and means assessing client needs, identifying potential risks, creating architectural blueprints, supervising other architects and overseeing the whole construction process.

Typical tasks include: 

  • Advising on restoration and conservation of existing buildings
  • Creating design to meet client requirements 
  • Considering budget, safety and community needs for a project
  • Ensuring building regulations, planning laws and environmental considerations are met
  • Creating detailed drawings for the contractor, with exact measurements and building materials needed
  • Working with contractors, engineers, surveyors, lawyers and planning dpeartments
  • Inspecting the building as it's built to make sure it meets the requirements
  • Using computer design programmes to product drawings, detailed workings and specifications

Hours & Salary:

  • Starting salaries for an architect's assistant during the trainee stage usually range from £18,000 to £30,000 a year
  • Newly registered architects can earn in the region of £30,000 and £35,000 
  • Trained with experience architects can earn in the region of £35,000 and £50,000
  • Senior or chartered architects can earn in the region of £50,000 and £100,000

Salaries depend on location, employer and level of responsibility. Salaries and career options also improve with chartered status.


 

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Take our Personality Quiz to find out which construction career is right for you.

Case Study

Lynda Henderson is an architect with RMJM, a large multi-national architectural practice

What do you do in a typical day?

I do some drawing on the computer and talk to a lot of other consultants. At the moment I’m spending quite a lot of time on site, dealing with things as they come up and talking to the contractors. Then I go back to the office and put everything we’ve discussed down on paper.

How did you get started?

I chose to become an architect at school because I was good at maths, science and art and I thought it would be a good combination of these courses. So I went to university and did a degree in architecture followed by a diploma. Then I took professional exams and became an architect.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I get to see things that I’ve worked on, and things that I’ve designed and drawn, become real. It’s a huge responsibility though. You’re working on a building and if you don’t do things right it could leak, or any number of other things could become a problem. But when you do things right it’s really satisfying.

What’s your experience of being a woman in the industry?

Being a female in the construction industry is exciting. It’s no more of a challenge than being in any other industry. There’s not a particular imbalance any more between males and females. As a female I’ve not found it’s held me back at all, it’s not made a bit of difference.

What skills do you have?

Since I started working as an architect, I’ve learned loads and you never stop learning every day. When you leave university you know a lot of the theory of design and you know some theory relating to construction. But it’s nothing compared to how you actually do the job once you start working in an office and start working on projects that are being built.

Proudest career moment?

The thing I’m most proud of is probably the Commonwealth athletes’ village. It’s the highest profile and biggest project I’ve worked on.

Where’s your career going next?

I have an interest in conservation architecture, so I’m starting a part-time MSc in Architectural Conservation. So hopefully in 10 years I’ll be a conservation architect working on historical and listed buildings.

Any advice to people looking for careers in architecture?

I’d say you need to be very patient, because a drawing can take years to become reality. You need to be willing to work hard and you also need a passion for buildings.

Get more information about construction industry jobs with the Careers Explorer

Qualifications & Training

Most people do a five-year university course recognised by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) – followed by at least two years’ professional experience.

To get on a degree course in Scotland you need 4 Highers (including English and maths or physics). Find further details at Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) and My World of Work.

In England and Wales you need at least five GCSEs (grade A to C) including maths, English and physics or chemistry, plus three A-levels (some universities like this to include a maths or science subject). Lots of universities will accept further education qualifications instead of A-levels.

You don’t need an art qualification but should be interested in art and design. Course providers will probably want to see your drawings and sketches.

With mature students, exam results will be looked at along with other credentials. If attending a full-time course is a problem, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Examination for Office-based Candidates allows you to qualify through distance learning. It’s open to anyone who has worked in architectural practice for at least three years.

Once you have qualified as an architect, you need to continue to update your knowledge and expertise. Continuous professional development (CPD) makes sure that you always have the skills you need to stay up to date and good at your job. This is usually organised by the relevant industry body, such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Chartership

As an Architect, you can also become Chartered. Becoming Chartered means you have proved that you are highly experienced and skilled at doing your job. It is comparable to a bachelor’s degree and is recognised all over the world. Becoming Chartered can enhance your career, increase your salary and boosts the rofessionalism of your organisation.

There are many routes to becoming Chartered. Whether you’re a graduate, have technical or vocational qualifications or have simply built up years of experience, you can choose the path that best suits you.

You can achieve Chartership through the relevant professional institution for the career you are following, however a full range of construction management jobs can lead to Chartered status. These include specialists like surveyors, architects, design engineers, sustainability consultants and health and safety professionals. For Architects this is The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

 

Want to find out more?

Try our Matching Service for work experience opportunities in your local area, with new opportunities being added on a regular basis. 

 

Looking for a vacancy?

 

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful: 

RIBA Appointments


Careers in construction


UK Jobs Network


Universal Jobsmatch

The number of job vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary daily, as these are external websites. Check regularly to see new opportunities as they are posted.

 

Career trends and forecasts

4320 additional staff needed

The UK construction industry will need an additional 4320 architects to meet demand every year for the period 2017 to 2021, according to the latest Construction Skills Network research (LMI).

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Find out more about other roles in the construction industry and what they involve.

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