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- Combine your creative ability with technical in-demand skills
- Travel to sites to meet with clients, planning departments and builders
- Option to work as a freelance consultant or set up your own business
This is an exciting and challenging role that combines creative skills with technical skills. As an architect, you'll design new buildings or 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.
Working closely with clients and users, you'll make sure that projected designs match requirements. You'll usually control a project from start to finish and work with a number of construction professionals, including surveyors and engineers.
- Discuss the ideas, objectives, requirements and budget of a project, and in some cases help to select a site
- Create detailed technical plans and feasibility reports using computer-aided design (CAD) software
- Create a plan and follow building laws and safety regulations, working towards agreed budgets
- Manage the construction of buildings, including working with contractors and other professionals
- Choose materials
- Check building work and progress, including regular site visits
- Ensure that the environmental impact of the project is managed
You'll mainly be office-based but will travel within the working day to visit clients and sites; you will need to wear appropriate safety equipment such as boots and a hard hat when on site. 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.
On larger jobs, you're likely to be part of a team alongside other architects and architectural technicians or technologists.
You'll need to have a good combination of creative ability, spatial awareness and technical skills, including in maths. To become qualified as an architect takes time and commitment.
You'll usually complete a degree recognised by the Architects Registration Board (ARB), a year of practical work experience, then another 2 years' full-time university course like BArch, Diploma, MArch, a further year of practical training, and a final qualifying exam. Many university course providers will also want to see a portfolio of your drawings and sketches and you'll usually need GCSEs including English, maths and science, plus 3 A levels, often including maths.
There are alternative entry paths into this career, such as the RIBA Studio practice-based route or an architecture apprenticeship. The ARB has information on courses.
Your salary and earning potential are linked to the level of qualification you have achieved. Most architects in the UK will have chartered status through membership of RIBA, but you must register with the statutory body, the Architects Registration Board (ARB), in order to legally use the title 'architect' in the UK.
If you're working for a private architectural firm, you may be able to move up to become a partner or associate. In public sector roles, with experience you could move into a lead architect job.
You could also work on projects as a freelance consultant, or set up your own business. You may get opportunities to work overseas.