Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month, we explore the role of an Architect – a career that involves the planning and construction of buildings. Architects use art, science, engineering and even sociology to design creations that fit the natural and human worlds.

Meet Sam, a real architect from Bristol. Get a real insight into a career in architecture with this video career profile from the Indigo Careers module.


So what is an Architect?

Architects design new buildings, the spaces around them as well as any proposed changes to existing buildings. Work includes agreeing design briefs with clients, researching development sites, deciding which materials to use for particular buildings and drawing technical plans. As an architect, you may also be responsible for testing new ideas, obtaining planning permission and inspecting building work while it is in progress.

You could specialise in a particular field such as building heritage and conservation, sustainable and environmental design, or project management.

You are likely to work regular office hours, although you might have to do some work at weekends and during the evenings.

Although architects are based in offices, you will go out to visit construction sites and meet clients. You will need to pay attention to health and safety regulations when on-site. A driving licence may be necessary.

Type of work
Training as an architect takes 7 years and includes a combination of studying for qualifications and practical training. You will spend much of your time visiting sites where you will need to wear protective clothing.

Things to consider

Difficult people
There may be problems to overcome when making design decisions, such as conflicting views to deal with.

There is personal satisfaction in dealing with these problems and creating designs for buildings that will influence the landscape for many years to come.

Can specialise
You could specialise in a particular field such as building heritage and conservation, sustainable and environmental design, or project management.

Creative freedom
You will have the opportunity to work with your client and find the best way to achieve the goals of the brief.

Basic salaries for a qualified architect start at around £26,000 and rise to up to £90,000 with experience.

Most people have an undergraduate degree and you will need to pass certain tests/exams

Professional architects must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). The main route to qualification is through a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects)/ARB-recognised degree. Minimum entry requirements are 3 A levels/H grades which should be drawn from academic fields of study. In addition, you must have passed at least 5 GCSEs/National 5s including English, Maths and Physics or Chemistry.

Potential students may also be expected to present a portfolio at the interview stage. Candidates without the usual entry requirements for a degree may be able to take a Foundation year at a school of architecture instead. Mature students with relevant experience may also be accepted.

Salary progression
Graduates who have completed Part 1 of their training can expect a starting salary of £18,000 to £22,000. Upon completion of Part 2, salaries rise to £24,000–£35,000. Once fully qualified as an architect, you can earn £32,000– £45,000 a year. Those who reach senior level or become a partner in a firm can achieve a salary up to £90,000.

Top Tip
Generally, you would start work in a private architect’s practice to gain wide experience of the work, but you may also work for other employers later on. Your career will be dependent on your experience, ability and competence. If you decide to remain in private work you could progress to associate level and possibly become a partner. Some of the larger architectural practices win international contracts so you could work on projects abroad.

Click here to explore the full library of over 650 career profiles, including multimedia content and LMI data for students to interpret and discuss.