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Career Advice

Qualifying as an architect

We rely on architects to fill a vital role in our society. We depend on them to plan, design and even oversee the construction of our buildings. To that end, we place a massive amount of responsibility in their hands and trust their designs, quite literally with our lives, every time we go anywhere. This trust and dependence means that qualifying as an architect isn’t an easy process, but is an extremely satisfying and rewarding career for the right person.

The right applicants:

Architecture is a very competitive field to study, so you’ll need to present excellent grades to a university when you apply. You can strengthen your application with A and higher grades in traditional subjects, and extra study into architecture or design technology (with an emphasis on 3D design technology) will help your application.

The process of becoming an architect:

Part one of your university education:

As is standard in the UK, the initial undergraduate degree is a three-year, graduatesfull-time course. You’ll study a broad range of architectural skills, gain a fundamental understanding of architecture, and expand your study into specialised fields. If you don’t want to pursue work as a full-fledged architect, it’s possible to end your study at this level and use your skills elsewhere.

Your first practical experiences:

You’ll be expected to take at least one year out to conduct work experience, although you can take longer for better practical experience, or to make a bit more money before returning to your academic studies.

Part two of your university education:

The next formal full-time academic portion of your training is a two-year postgraduate course. You’ll study more enhanced ideas of architecture, and have the option to take on specialised study. You don’t have to complete this section at the same university you completed your first academic segment if a specialisation you desire is available elsewhere.

(Note: You’ll still technically be an undergraduate according to the architectural course, but you may have to pursue post-graduate student loan fees.)

Your second practical experiences:

You’ll need to undergo another two years of practical experience before you can sit your final qualifying exam. These years should be in the European Economic Area, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man under direct supervision by a qualified architect.

Final academic examination:

Your 24 months of recorded and supervised experience will form part of your final examination. You’ll also be assessed on your professional CV and a career evaluation of your work experience so far, a case study, a aptitude testwritten examination, and a final oral examination.

Once all of the above is completed, you can finally register yourself proudly as an architect with the Architect Registration Board. By now, the amount of practical experience you’ve accrued to qualify should give you a good idea of where and how you’ll be applying your abilities, and you can become a chartered member of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Are you in the process of becoming an architect? Do you have any advice for a prospective architect? Let us know in the comments.


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