If you are wondering how to become an architect, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of building and construction, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Architects design and construct new buildings and restore and conserve old ones. Their work also involves planning the layout of groups of buildings and the spaces around them.

    As an architect, you would create a design, taking into account all of your clients’ requirements and a range of other issues including:

    social factors
    building regulations
    planning laws.
    Once a design is agreed, you would:

    produce a further set of detailed drawings for the building contractor, with precise dimensions and materials
    work closely with contractors, engineers, surveyors, lawyers and planning departments
    regularly inspect the construction work to assess progress.
    You would be responsible for a building project from the earliest stage through to completion. On larger jobs, you could work in a team alongside other architects and architectural technicians or technologists.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good architects include:

    an interest in buildings and their uses
    practical and scientific skills
    a methodical, logical and analytical approach
    design and computer/CAD skills
    strong mathematical ability
    good business awareness
    strong communication and negotiating skills
    the ability to manage and lead a team
    the ability to work under pressure, and accept criticism of your work
    an awareness of the social and environmental impact of your work.

    How to become an architect
    To practise as an architect you must be accepted on to the UK Register of Architects, run by the Architects Registration Board (ARB). You need to complete around seven years of education and training to be eligible to join the register.

    The most direct way to qualify as an architect is by taking ARB-approved (prescribed) qualifications, which involves three stages of training plus practical work experience.

    Part 1 – for this stage you need to complete an approved degree in architecture (the ARB have a list of institutions). To get onto a degree you will need at least five GCSEs (A-C) including maths, English and physics or chemistry, plus three A levels. It is not necessary to have studied art, however, you should enjoy making models and collages and drawing freehand; many schools of architecture will want to see a portfolio of drawings and sketches. Please check with course providers for exact entry details.

    Parts 2 and 3 are outlined in the Training section.

    The ARB and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), have more information on alternative routes to qualifying as an architect.

    Training and Development
    When you have achieved Part 1 (an ARB recognised degree in Architecture) you need to continue training to qualify as an architect, which involves:

    a year of practical training in a registered architect’s office
    Part 2 – a diploma or second degree in architecture approved by the ARB, or other approved course (this can be done on a two-year full-time or four years’ part-time basis)
    a further year of work experience under the supervision of a registered architect
    Part 3 – the Professional Practice Examinations.
    When you have completed each stage of training, you can join both RIBA (as a Chartered Architect) and the UK Register of Architects, and practise independently as an architect.

    As a qualified architect it is important for you to keep up-to-date with developments by taking short courses run by your employer or organisations such as RIBA. As a chartered member of RIBA, you need to complete continuing professional development activities to maintain your membership with them.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Architects studying Part 2, RIBA exams can earn between £25,000 and £35,000 a year.
    Qualified architects with experience can earn around £50,000.
    Senior architects can earn up to £75,000.

    Job Prospects
    You will find most job opportunities in private practice. There is often no promotional structure in this sector and career progression will depend on your skills, competence and experience.

    With experience, you may be able work on freelance contracts or set up your own practice. You may have the opportunity to work overseas, as many private practices have contracts or offices abroad.

    You could also work in the public sector or in-house with a wide range of commercial and industrial organisations in areas such as retail, leisure, tourism and banking. In a public sector organisation, you may be able to progress to chief architect.

    Useful building and construction resources:
    Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
    66 Portland Place
    W1B 1AD
    Tel: 020 7580 5533

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