Architecture: Careers in building design
An architecture career is one of the most creative, complex and demanding jobs in construction. That is why it can take seven years to qualify as an architect! But though it is a long apprenticeship, designing buildings can be an incredibly rewarding profession that has a major impact on society.
Who is behind the most famous building designs?
There have been some great architects, both throughout history and in modern times. Among the most noteworthy are:
- Michelangelo (1475-1564), who designed the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City
- Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723), architect of St Paul’s Cathedral in London
- Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926), whose buildings include the cathedral of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
- Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), one of the most influential architects of the 20th century
- Lord Norman Foster (1935- ), who has designed some of the most iconic modern buildings in the world, such as the Millau viaduct, 30 St Mary Axe (the ‘Gherkin’) in the City of London and the terminal at Stansted Airport.
What skills do you need to become an architect?
First and foremost, architects need to have excellent design skills, both on paper and CAD (computer aided design). You need to be able to visualise your design ideas effectively, and back them up with an understanding of building design and construction.
You should have excellent problem solving, thinking and reasoning skills, be a good analytical thinker and a sound understanding of maths and finance. You should be able to work well and communicate easily with a wide range of construction industry workers, from site managers to civil engineers.
Other key skills include:
- Attention to detail
- Verbal communication
- Ability to use your initiative.
Why should you consider a career in architecture?
If you have a passion for architecture, design and the way people interact with buildings, then an architecture career path could be perfect for you.
New buildings are always needed, for residential, commercial or leisure purposes, and architects are essential for the construction industry. By designing new buildings you will be fulfilling a vital role in society and have the potential to transform the lives of the people that live and work in them.
Environmental sustainability is becoming a major issue in the design and construction of new buildings, so if you have an interest in how architecture can minimise its ecological impact, then a career in building design could be a rewarding one.
Where can you learn more about being an architect?
We have plenty of useful information about careers and apprenticeships in architecture at Go Construct, and there are some other resources that you could find helpful:
- What qualifications do you need to become an architect?
- Read the RIBA guide to becoming an architecture apprentice.
How can you gain architectural experience?
There are two routes to an architecture career. You can study for a degree in architecture at university, which takes seven years (including two years of practical work experience). Alternatively, architectural apprenticeships offer a vocational route into the profession, with about 80% of an apprentice’s time spent with an architectural practice, and 20% focused on academic study.
To become qualified apprentices should complete a Level 6 Architectural Assistant Apprenticeship and Level 7 Architect Apprenticeship. It is possible for architectural apprentices to become qualified in only four years and get paid while they are gaining work experience. However, architectural apprenticeships are comparatively hard to find.