A Career as an Architect
An Architect is fully involved in the management of a building project from the initial design stages through to completion. They work closely with clients to create a design based on their specific requirements and are accountable for budgetary control and for ensuring compliance with building and planning regulations. They also have to maintain awareness of the various health, safety and environmental issues resulting from the project. Architects not only work on new-build projects but also on the restoration and conservation of old buildings.
Having agreed a design, technical drawings are then produced which provide the building contractor with detailed information on dimensions and materials required for the project. An Architect is also responsible for liaising with all other contractors employed on site and monitoring progress to ensure that the original design is adhered to.
Architects generally use computerised design applications so are required to have good IT skills. They must also have strong mathematical and analytical ability to enable them to calculate costs and measurements and produce technical data. Architects must be highly creative but realistic in accepting that their designs may not be appreciated by everybody. Although mainly office based, the role does involve travelling to sites and attending meetings with clients, contractors and representatives from planning departments.
There is a complex series of training that must be completed before an Architect can be accepted onto the UK Register of Architects. The Architects Registration Board (ARB) coordinates this and it involves completion of a relevant degree, practical training, further diploma or degree qualification and finally the completion of the Professional Practice Examination. You will then be eligible for membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and can then register to practise.
Although the majority of Architects are employed in private practice, there are opportunities within the public sector. Many choose to establish their own practice while others prefer to offer their service in a freelance capacity. Progression will be based primarily on the degree of success they have enjoyed and on the originality of their work. Leading private practices with London offices include Wilkinson Eyre and Grimshaw with the latter also boasting offices in New York and Melbourne, offering the opportunity to practise overseas.
Salary can be dependent on where the practice is based with London offices primarily being the most lucrative. The role is a complex and demanding one but is arguably incredibly satisfying as you are able to witness the results of your efforts in the form of a building or structure that you designed.
Author: James Innes