What A levels do you need for an architecture career?
If you are considering a career in architecture, you might be wondering what A Levels are best for you to study. The truth is, architecture is a discipline that is a mixture of science, art and maths (degrees are awarded as both BA and BSc), so any combination of these types of subjects would be useful.
You should, however, be good at drawing, and want to study architecture in more depth. It will also depend very much on what type of architectural career you want to go into.
Different types of architectural careers
Architects design buildings and draw plans for how new, restored and extended buildings will look, externally and internally. They work with other professionals in construction to establish the layout, structure and functionality of buildings, based on budgets, measurements and the requirements of the client. Architects make sure that buildings are safe and fit for purpose, meet building regulations and enhance the environment in which they are built.
Architectural technicians or technologists work closely with architects and specialise in presenting building designs using technology. They use architectural CAD software to build virtual models - to show to clients before construction - as well as drawing freehand. Architectural technicians and technologists coordinate detailed design information, prepare drawings, plans and documents, obtain tenders and prepare applications for approval by regulatory bodies.
Computer-aided design (CAD) technicians use computer software to produce 2D and 3D drawings for construction and manufacturing projects. As a CAD technician, you may be designing buildings, machinery or component parts. Also known as CAD operatives, CAD engineers or BIM technicians, in this role you will be taking complex information and using it to produce technical building diagrams for architects, engineers and other construction workers.
A building control surveyor ensures that building regulations are followed on new build sites and projects. They may also be required to survey damaged or unstable structures to determine whether they can be repaired safely or need to be demolished. Building control surveyors collaborate with architects during the planning and construction phases of building projects and carry out inspections at various stages of construction.
A town planner, planning officer or urban designer is responsible for designing and developing residential areas in towns, cities and the countryside. Town planners need to manage the demands on the land being developed and the needs of the community. This can be on a national, regional, or local level and requires an awareness of the impact of developments on local economies, green space, infrastructure and historic environments.
Best A Levels for an architecture role
There are no specific A Levels that you need for careers in architecture, but you should perform well in the subjects you take. Architecture degrees at university take seven years to complete, so are far more demanding than a traditional 3-year degree course. Entry requirements are usually at least two, sometimes three A Level passes at grades A-B.
Art & creative subjects
Being proficient in art is normally a prerequisite for a budding architect. You should be able to show that you have a technical ability in drawing, so taking A Level art is always a good choice. Try to keep a portfolio of sketches and drawings.
Universities may ask for one of your two or three A Levels to be in maths or science-based subjects. Design and technology is useful but won’t usually be mandatory.
Humanities subjects might not seem essential for architecture careers, but they actually can be. For example, having an interest in history will improve your understanding of the context of buildings of the past, and how great architects worked in centuries gone by.
Studying architecture after A Levels
The usual route to an architecture career after A Levels is through an architecture degree. The degree course is split into three parts:
- Part one – undergraduate degree, 3 years
- Part two – postgraduate degree, 2 years
- Part three – practical experience with an architectural practice, 2 years.
Only after completing all three parts will you be able to qualify as an architect and apply to become a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) chartered member.
Find out more about a career in architecture
- Find out more about careers in building design
- Read the RIBA guide to becoming an architecture apprentice
Career opportunities in architecture
Studying for a university degree is not the only route you can take into a career in architecture. You could complete an architectural apprenticeship, which offers a more vocational route into this competitive profession.
- Browse the latest architecture apprenticeships in construction available on Talentview