What Job Can I Get With an Architecture Degree?
In the UK, becoming a licensed architect requires a lot of training. Starting with an initial five-year undergraduate degree where you study Architecture, you’ll then need to seek practical training in the workplace which culminates with a final exam - taking around a total of seven years to qualify as a chartered architect.
During this extensive training period, it’s not uncommon for students to explore the different career paths open to them for their future - either directly or indirectly related to a degree in architecture.
Fortunately, even if students do decide against becoming a fully qualified architect, the subject is a highly creative, respectable and exciting field of study, providing you with a wealth of opportunities and transferable knowledge once you graduate.
Take a look below at just a handful of the job roles you could find yourself working in once you complete your training. We even provide details on some of the typical responsibilities you could find yourself dealing with on a day-to-day basis, helping you make a more informed decision for further research.
What skills are needed for a career in Architecture?
The study of Architecture prepares you for a future towards the design, construction and development of buildings and land areas. You’ll pick up key skills that are vital to a building’s functions, as well as aesthetic requirements.
Studying for an architecture degree will prepare you with a range of hard and soft skills which can be applied across a whole range of different career paths. Some of these will include but are not limited to:
- AutoCAD: A computer–aided design (CAD) software which allows you to model drawings in 2D and 3D. You can create and modify models of all types of structures and objects.
- Autodesk Revit: Building design software which allows you to model, document and communicate design intent at various stages of project development.
- Communication: A significant part of any architectural job role will involve liaising with different stakeholders to plan and execute designs on time in order to meet deadlines.
- Leadership: Either on a personal or project level. You’ll need to take ownership of your work and ensure you and your team complete their work on time.
- Project management: Many architectural projects involve at least some form of project management; either on a small or large scale. You’ll need to be able to organise plans, set deadlines, and then communicate and work with other parties to ensure they are met.
- Planning: Being a great architect isn’t just about meeting deadlines. It’s about ensuring that you plan far enough in advance that you can work on a range of ideas to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved.
What jobs can I get with an architecture degree?
A degree in Architecture can lead to a whole range of different career paths; either directly or indirectly related. We share some of the most popular options for students below.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular career paths students pursue after completing their architecture degree is a career as an architect.
In this role, you’ll be responsible for designing new buildings or altering existing structures to preserve and improve for the future. You could work on a single building or on large development schemes for small communities.
The job as an architect will involve lots of liaison with clients, local authorities and users, ensuring that your designs and models match their requirements. You’ll also need to ensure that any design you create is functional, safe, economical and, in some scenarios, highly innovative and ‘new’ in design.
Typical responsibilities of an Architect:
- Liaise with clients and local authorities about the objectives, requirements, budget and overall design ideas for a project.
- Use IT in design and project management to meet the project needs, specifically using computer-aided design software to produce models.
- Prepare and present feasibility reports about any designs to the client.
- Maintain budgets and keep to deadlines as per the client’s request.
- Negotiate with contractors and other professionals about design, feasibility, and impact on the local environment.
- Prepare tender applications and presentations, as well as applications for planning and building control.
- Follow projects from start to finish, including regular site visits to check on progress and subsequent success.
One of the highest qualified positions available to architecture students is the role of ‘Architectural Technologist,’ also known as an MCIAT. These individuals are qualified and capable of managing projects from start to finish, leading on the technological design of a project to ensure it meets all necessary design, technical and safety requirements.
From initial conception and technical design to contract administration and construction, you’ll specialise in the technological aspects of architecture, ensuring that it meets the safety, sustainability and inclusivity considerations associated with the design or re-design of buildings and structures.
Typical responsibilities of an Architectural Technologist:
- Meet with other architects, engineers, local authorities and governments to agree on a project brief.
- Develop project briefs and continually adapt these as the project progresses.
- Prepare and present design proposals using computer-aided design (CAD) software for contractors, structural engineers, and other key stakeholders. You’ll also be a key player in coordinating any design information amongst different parties.
- Understand and evaluate different design aspects of a construction project, including environmental, legal and regulatory issues, so that any practical dilemmas can be resolved from the outset.
- Liaise with appropriate parties and authorities when producing documentation to ensure it complies with statutory requirements.
- Contribute to planning applications and identify any surveys which will need to be undertaken prior to any commencement of work. Also advise on suitable materials and processes to be used during the building work.
- Carry out regular risk assessments for design-stage work.
- Train and mentor trainee technologists who contribute to the overall running of projects and wider business.
- Evaluate and appraise the performance of buildings and other structures during construction or re-design process to ensure project briefs are being kept to a high and safe standard.
Building Control Surveyor
During the design and construction of buildings, there is usually at least one designated individual to ensure that all regulations and requirements are met as per the outline of the design proposal. This individual is typically referred to as the Building Control Surveyor.
From the very moment that a building application is being prepared through to when the final safety checks are being carried out after construction, you’ll be responsible for assessing and advising on safety and compliance regulations, ensuring that everything meets the mark. If a building looks like it may struggle to meet the requirements, then you could find yourself advising on solutions too with contractors and other stakeholders.
Typical responsibilities of a Building Control Surveyor:
- Examine plans, drawings, specifications and other documents that are submitted for planning approval to ensure compliance with building regulations.
- Inspect buildings against regulatory requirements for public health, fire safety, energy conservation, sustainability and accessibility.
- Advise and support applicants on changes to ensure legal requirements are met.
- Grant approval and sign off planning applications for work to begin.
- Survey and approve demolitions of potentially dangerous buildings.
- Inspect and test building foundations and drainage systems.
- Regularly visit construction sites and write reports about each visit.
- Issue completion certificates once work has been completed to a satisfactory level.
Construction managers, also referred to as site managers, are responsible for ensuring the smooth running of construction projects, especially in terms of ensuring that buildings are finished safely, within budget and with an agreed time frame. You’ll usually be on-boarded just before building work commences, ensuring you have full visibility over contractor recruitment and project strategy.
Working closely with a small team of stakeholders, including architects, surveyors, suppliers and other building professionals, your main focus will be around the successful planning and delivery of a construction project. Much of your work will be spent on-site, supervising a range of operations to ensure that all contractors work together to make progress towards the project end-goal.
Depending on the company you work for depends on the type of construction management you could be responsible for. Typically, there are five major project groups that you could find yourself working in: commercial, environmental, industrial, infrastructure or residential.
Typical responsibilities of a Construction Manager:
- Plan and coordinate construction projects from start to finish, liaising with various stakeholders to organise the schedule of work, budget, and contracts.
- Oversee the buying of necessary materials and equipment needed to construct a building.
- Recruit, contract and manage tradespeople for the construction project.
- Manage the day-to-day operations of the construction site, including supervising the labour force, sourcing materials, and inspecting work for quality control.
- Reference design documents with architects, surveyors and engineers against building work to ensure the brief is being met and negotiate on any unexpected problems that may arise during the building process.
- Ensure the project is delivered within a designated time frame and budget which has been agreed prior to the commencement of work.
- Carry out regular site inspections to ensure safety rules are being adhered to by all staff members and contractors.
- Attend regular meetings with clients and other key stakeholders to inform them of progress on a project.
Interior and Spatial Designer
As the name suggests, interior and spatial designers are involved in the design and/or renovation of internal spaces, which can range from structural alterations to the room’s shape to design; soft furnishings, fixtures and fittings, lighting, and paint schemes.
Depending on the organisation you work for will determine the type of field you may work in; either a commercial, leisure or domestic setting. This will also impact the type of interior design too - some companies focus on structural redesign, while others are more concerned only with appearance.
Typical responsibilities of an Interior and Spatial Designer:
- Obtain information and liaise with clients about potential projects; their requirements, schedules and budgets.
- Consider the use of various materials and costs according to different budgets and project fees.
- Research and gather previous designs related to the project to create ‘mood boards’ that suggest project vision.
- Source soft furnishings and product samples for clients including, furniture, lighting, paint/wallpaper samples, and fixtures/fittings.
- Use computer-aided design software to prepare detailed drawings, designs and models of interior spaces for the client.
- Liaise with quantity surveyors to establish costs, schedules, and briefs for work to be completed.
- Supervise work on-site to ensure design brief is being met with accuracy.
- Keep up-to-date with new trends and developments in the design industry and use accordingly within design briefs and ideas.
It’s not uncommon for trained architects to transfer to the field of engineering, especially structural engineering. With a focus on solving design dilemmas and improve environmental and human conditions, the two roles share many of the same ambitions.
Primarily, structural engineers are involved in the design of structures such as buildings and offices which can withstand natural environmental conditions and human use. You’ll work hard to ensure any prospective new building or re-design of existing structures will remain stable and secure throughout their use.
Working closely with architects and other engineers, you’ll be responsible for ensuring that any designs will be structurally sound and offer suggestions for improvements or solutions on those which are not.
You could find yourself working across a whole range of buildings and sectors, depending on your area of expertise, including; houses, offices, bridges, aircraft, hospitals, high-rises, ships, and more.
Typical responsibilities of a Structural Engineer
- Use logic and formula to calculate the pressures, stress and strains of each component of a structural design which could result from human usage or external pressures such as natural disasters or bad weather.
- Consider the strength of various materials and ensure the most robust materials are used for the purpose of a structure’s design.
- Liaise with architects, builders and other designers to ensure safe design is carried out, while fitting with the aesthetic conception of the construction.
- Make drawings using computer-aided design software (CAD) of structures for building contractors to use.
- Examine structures at risk of collapse or demolition and advise on how to improve their strength and defense - or whether demolition is the most effective method.
- Keep up-to-date with industry-related news, ensuring that any new materials and safety design features are considered in any future work for the best possible design.
One of the fastest growing architecture-related job roles over the past few decades has been in urban design and planning. The primary role of an urban designer is to create practical designs and visually-appealing landscapes for the public to enjoy. You’ll be responsible for bringing viable developments to life, ensuring that any designs you create are both practical and enjoyable.
Working closely with other teams, such as architects, local communities, town and transport planners, as well as landscape artists, you’ll work together to create better living spaces and practical solutions for public use, while also maintaining green landscapes and reducing any environmental impacts of new construction on the local area.
You could work across several areas, although are typically expected to specialise in one. Some of the most common sectors include; urban developments in towns and cities; rural environments in smaller towns and villages; or, spatial areas such as parks and open green spaces.
Typical responsibilities of an Urban Designer:
- Survey land, buildings and other potential development areas to analyse their current use and possibility for further improvement.
- Meet with local residents and organisations to understand their needs and desires for any new spaces that you may design for the local area.
- Innovate ideas for new spaces and redesign existing structures to create better living spaces for the local population; ranging from small commercial developments to major housing areas in towns and cities.
- Use specialist design software such as computer-aided design (CAD) to convert your vision into a technical drawing that can be acted on.
- Work as part of a wider team with architects, local organisations, contractors and material suppliers to initiate ideas, discuss key areas of improvement and complete projects within budget and deadline.
- Work with local agencies and councils to ensure policies and guidance are followed for safe project completion.
- Regular site visits to monitor the ongoing progress of any projects you are working on.
Studying towards an architecture degree will provide you with a wide range of transferable skills that can be applied to various sectors. From visual conception to planning and technical design, you’ll be well-prepared for a long and creative, design-focused career.
Whether you choose to focus on a role directly related to your degree, such as an Architect or Architectural Technologist, or choose to move to a related field in surveying, engineering or construction, there are so many avenues for you to choose from.
Remember, that many employers accept applications from students of many different disciplines, so don’t restrict yourself to thinking you can only apply for the jobs outlined in our article. With a little bit of research, you’ll notice that the world is full of opportunities for architecture graduates.
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UK architects receive rigorous training, taking around 7 years to qualify. They excel in AutoCAD, communication, leadership, project management, and planning. Career options include architect, architectural technologist, building control surveyor, construction manager, interior designer, structural engineer, and urban designer.