How to Become an Architect

Architecture is an amazing and exciting potential career path. You need to have the creativity and design skills to construct buildings from scratch, the meticulous maths skills to quickly calculate whether they will stand, and the practical skills to balance planning permission laws, building codes, and client needs to complete your projects.

Becoming an architect is something that takes a lot of dedication, commitment, and passion. However, if you are seriously interested in architecture as a profession, read our guide for how to get started in this lucrative career path.


What Do You Do as an Architect?


Architect tools sitting on a desk


An architect, simply put, is a man or woman who designs and builds structures. Often these are houses, but architects also can specialise in bridges, offices, industrial buildings, warehouses, piers, airports, and more. Architects are involved in not just putting up new buildings, but also in completing extensive repairs, extensions or other modifications to old ones.


An architect’s tasks include:

  • Provide clients with multiple potential styles from which to choose their building design.
  • Decide with clients the broader outline of a project, timescales and budget.
  • Arrange a site survey of existing buildings and landscapes.
  • Produce drawings of the designed building to the client.
  • Work alongside other specialists, including engineers, surveyors, and consultants, to produce a holistic feasible building design.
  • Produce an early cost estimation report for proposed construction.
  • Monitor and receive planning permission for building projects.
  • Inspect the project after work completion.


What is Your Expected Salary as an Architect?


Chair tucked in on a desk with lots of other architect tools


The average salary of an architect varies depending on where they are based and what kind of work they specialise in. Architects based in London are paid slightly more than those situated outside of the city, and international architects earn the highest salaries.

Someone seeking to become an architect must first complete parts one, two, and three of the Royal Institute of British Architects qualification programme. This takes a minimum of five years of university studies and two years of practical experience.

During the practical experience, one must spend at least a year as a Part 1 Architectural Assistant and a year as a Part 2 Architectural Assistant. The salary of the former is, on average, £21,000 a year, while for a part 2 Architectural Assistant, that rises to £27,500.

Once an architect passes all parts of their training, they can become registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Once registered, an architect earns on average £33,500 a year. This figure rises to £40,000 a year as an experienced, qualified architect and can reach even higher as a partner, associate, or director of a firm.


What Do I Need to Become an Architect?


Female architect preparing for exam using pen and paper, not a refurbished Apple Computer


As previously mentioned, to become an architect, one must first complete five years’ worth of university studies, coupled with two years of practical experience. Your university studies are typically split between a three-year undergraduate degree in architecture, followed by a two year MArch, or Masters in Architecture.

During your studies, as well as when working as an architect, a computer with a high build quality and power is essential. For a laptop with solid build quality, we strongly recommend a MacBook Pro, while the iMac 27” is a wonderful computer for processor-intensive computing. Historically, AppleOS has been a closed system with limited software choice, but big developers in the last few years have produced fantastic architecture applications, including AutoCAD, Maya, and Fusion 360. To save some money while still getting a fantastic Mac device, buy refurbished Apple computers from our online store.

Finally, to become an architect, you should also build up a portfolio of your work. Once you apply for Part 2 training, most universities and employers will expect to see a collection of your past projects. Create a selection of your work and upload them either to a beautiful personal website or print them off and put them in a binder to show off to others!


Is Architecture Right for Me?


Pencil and metal ruler on a table


To become an architect, you have to undergo a lot of training. You should not expect to be fully qualified and become an official architect (the title is protected by law to ensure only those who are fully qualified can use the label) until after at least seven years of training, five of which would be in unpaid full-time education.

However, if you are intrigued by the challenge of combining mathematics and science with art and design to create fantastic structures, then architecture is the career path for you. Each day is different in the job because there are so many different things you have trained to be able to do, and there is a clear training pathway and career progression once you start down this route. If you think that the many years of training is worth it for the big-impact architects have on the world we live in, then this might be the career for you.


Steps to Becoming an Architect:

–    Complete a BA Architecture Degree at a university.

–    Spend at least one year working as a Part One Architectural Assistant to build up professional experience.

–    Return to university to complete a postgraduate degree in Architecture, typically a Masters.

–    Spend another year working as a Part Two Architectural Assistant.

–    Complete the Advanced Diploma in Professional Practice in Architecture (ADPPA), the Part 3 qualification of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

–    If you pass this final exam, you can join the Architects Registration Board (the ARB) and call yourself an architect!


We hope you found this guide useful and good luck with choosing your future career. If you have any questions or comments, get in touch with us or leave us a message on social media to share your thoughts.