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What is an Architect? The School Leaver Guide

Architect School Leaver.jpg

What is an Architect?

You will work in the construction industry designing new buildings and the built spaces around them. You will help to restore and conserve old buildings and develop new ways of using current buildings. You will be involved in construction projects from their conception through to their completion.

What does an Architect do?

You will need to:

  • Discuss ideas, objectives, requirements and budgets of a project

  • Help select a site

  • Consult with other professionals about the design

  • Assess the demand of the building and its users

  • Assess the practicality of the project

  • Prepare and present reports and design proposals to the client

  • Use IT systems for design and project management (specifically using computer-aided design)

  • Ensure that proposals comply with financial budgets

  • Produce detailed workings, drawings and specifications

  • Negotiate with contractors and other professionals

  • Prepare applications for planning and building

  • Draw up tender documents for contracts

  • Oversee a project from start to finish

  • Regularly visit sites to check on progress and ensure that it is due within the specified timeframe

  • Resolve problems and issues that arise during construction

Skills & interests required for an Architect

  • Excellent design and drawing skills

  • A strong imagination

  • Sound analytical skills and attention to detail

  • A keen interest in buildings and the built environment

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Good organisational skills

  • Strong teamwork and leadership skills

  • A first-rate understanding of construction processes

  • Commercial awareness

  • Strong mathematical skills

  • Project management skills

  • Excellent IT skills, including proficiency in computer-aided design

Working hours

Your contracted working hours will generally be 9am - 5pm, but when there are big projects in demand, you will be expected to work longer hours.

Work base

You will be predominantly office-based, but you will have to make visits to both clients and sites.


There may be considerable travel within a working day, but overnight absence from home is very uncommon.

Salary ranges & earning potential

As a Part 1 architectural assistant (an approved first degree in architecture, which typically lasts three or four years) your salary is likely to be in the range of £18,000 to £22,000. Once you are a Part 2 architectural assistant (two years of further study for a diploma or Master’s degree) your salary can rise up to £35,000.

As a fully qualified (Part 3) architect, you could earn between £32,000 and £45,000. At senior or director level, you can typically earn £45,000 to £70,000.

Perks & benefits

Travel expenses are likely to be paid for.

Education requirements

A degree that is approved by Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the minimum requirement for this industry. If your architecture degree is unaccredited, then it is unlikely for you to progress past a Part 1 architect.

Useful subjects to study at school

  • Sciences (particularly physics)

  • Maths

  • Architecture

  • Project design

  • Design technology

  • Art

Useful resources

ARB Student Handbook
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)