Job profile – Become an Architect


Entry level: 6

Qualifications and courses

Professional architects must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). The main route to qualification is through a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects)/ARB-recognised degree. Minimum entry requirements are 3 A levels/H grades which should be drawn from academic fields of study. In addition you must have passed at least 5 GCSEs/National 5s including English, Maths and Physics or Chemistry. Equivalent qualifications such as a BTEC certificate/diploma may be accepted. Potential students may also be expected to present a portfolio at the interview stage.

Candidates without the usual entry requirements for a degree may be able to take a Foundation year at a school of architecture instead. Mature students with relevant experience may also be accepted.

Training as an architect takes 7 years. Candidates spend 3 years studying for an undergraduate degree in architecture (RIBA Part 1) and then undertake 12 months of supervised practical training in an architect’s office or in some sector of the building industry. Then 2 years are spent studying for a diploma, further degree (BArch) or Master of Architecture (MArch) (RIBA Part 2). After completing a further 24-month work placement, trainees are then eligible to complete the RIBA Part 3 Examination in Professional Practice and Management.

If you have passed Part 1, you may be able to work as an architectural technician.

Alternatively, RIBA Studio is an office-based route for people with experience through which candidates are able to self-study for the RIBA Examination in Architecture while continuing to work full time.

What the work involves

Architects design new buildings, the spaces around them as well as any proposed changes to existing buildings.

Your work will include agreeing design briefs with clients, researching development sites, deciding which materials to use for particular buildings and drawing technical plans. You will also be responsible for testing new ideas, obtaining planning permission and inspecting building work while it is in progress.

You could specialise in a particular field such as building heritage and conservation, sustainable and environmental design, or project management.

Type of person suited to this work

You must be able to produce creative, detailed designs that meet the needs of your clients.

You will need excellent verbal communication skills for working with other professionals and for presenting your ideas to them and your clients. You also have to be organised and have good research and problem-solving skills.

As you will use computer-aided design (CAD) in your work, IT skills are also useful.

Working conditions

Although architects are based in offices, you will go out to visit construction sites and meet clients. You will need to pay attention to health and safety regulations when on-site. A driving licence may be necessary.

You are likely to work regular office hours, although you might have to do some work at weekends and during the evenings.

Future prospects

Generally, you would start work in a private architect’s practice to gain wide experience of the work, but you may also work for other employers later on.

Self-employment is common for experienced architects.

Your career will be dependent on your experience, ability and competence. If you decide to remain in private work you could progress to associate level and possibly become a partner. Some of the larger architectural practices win international contracts so you could work on projects abroad.

You could continue to develop your knowledge by completing a postgraduate course in a subject related to architecture, such as civil engineering, town planning, and surveying, among others. These courses are offered by most schools of architecture.


There may be problems to overcome when making design decisions, such as conflicting views to deal with.

There is personal satisfaction in dealing with these problems and creating designs for buildings that will influence the landscape for many years to come.

Money guide

Graduates who have completed Part 1 of their training can expect a starting salary of £18,000 to £22,000.

Upon completion of Part 2, salaries rise to £24,000–£35,000.

Once fully qualified as an architect, you can earn £32,000–£45,000 a year.

Those who reach senior level or become a partner in a firm can achieve a salary up to £90,000.

Further information

Architects Registration Board

Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland

Royal Institute of British Architects

Job profile from Careers 2019 (9781911067894).

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

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