Architects plan, design and oversee the construction of buildings.
They meet with clients to discuss project requirements, create detailed designs and blueprints and remain on-hand to see plans through during construction. Projects can vary widely: from new builds to renovations, residential houses to community buildings and single properties to entire streets or areas.
Ultimately, the role of an architect is to ensure that buildings are safe, functional and meet their clients’ needs.
This detailed guide features everything you need to know about architects, including a full job description as well as the qualifications required, average salary, typical employers and more.
- Architect job description
- How much do architects earn?
- What does an architect do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs architects?
- Which junior jobs progress to architect roles?
Architect job description
Architect | James Hunter Partnership
About James Hunter Partnership
JHP are an innovative, design-led practice with over 20 years of experience delivering stunning functional designs for our clients. Our projects range in size and complexity and cover both the residential and commercial sectors.
About the role
We are looking for a qualified architect to join our busy team of architects, surveyors and urban designers. You will be responsible for the design and delivery of attractive, functional and safe building projects across our client portfolio.
- Working closely with clients to create initial project plans that meet specified requirements
- Producing detailed technical drawings and specifications both by hand and using CAD software (AutoCAD and Revit)
- Managing projects from inception to completion and suggesting adaptations to design and timeframe if necessary
- Preparing relevant paperwork including applications for planning permission and construction contracts
- Liaising with internal and external professionals including team members, freelancers and construction workers to ensure project runs smoothly
- Regularly visiting site to monitor project progression and resolve risks and issues
Location & commitments
- Permanent position based at our offices in Leeds
- Working hours 9-5, Monday-Friday with occasional overtime required
- Regular site visits required
- Qualified to RIBA Part III or equivalent with at least three years of practical experience
- Good knowledge of the UK architecture industry
- Strong verbal and written communication skills
- Highly organised with the ability to balance multiple projects at once
- Experience working with AutoCAD and Revit
- RIBA/ARB registered
- A full, clean driving license
- Knowledge of InDesign
Contact us to apply
To apply for this exciting opportunity, please contact Alistair at Alistair.brown@JHP.co.uk and attach your CV and covering letter.
How much do architects earn?
The average salary for an architect in the UK is £28,271, though this can vary widely. On entry to the profession, part I architectural assistants will earn around £18,000, but this can rise to more than £45,000 for fully qualified Part III architects or company directors.
Architect salaries in the UK
- Low: £18,000
- Average: £28,271
- High: £38,000
Architect salaries can vary depending on several factors such as the below:
- Agency size – Architects working at large agencies will normally earn more than those working for smaller companies
- Project size – For freelance architects paid by the commission, the larger and more complex the project, the higher the payment
- Experience – Part I architectural assistants with just one year of experience will earn significantly less than Part III registered architects working in the profession for many years
- Chartered status – Chartered architects will take home more money than non-chartered architects
- Location – Architects working in London can expect to earn more than those in other parts of the UK
For example, a Part III registered architect working in London on a large office block build will almost certainly receive a higher salary than a Part I architectural assistant working on a small house build in a rural town.
Keep in mind that these are average figures based on job advertisements. They don’t take into consideration other benefits such as holiday allowance, pension schemes and company bonuses.
What does an architect do?
Generally, an architect job description will usually include the following responsibilities:
- Client briefing – Meeting clients initially to consider ideas and objectives for project, establishing a budget and deadline and checking project is feasible
- Creating building designs – Developing detailed designs and blueprints, using both traditional drawing and specialist Computer Aided Design (CAD) applications, presenting these to clients and adapting project accordingly
- Liaising with team – Liaising with other professionals involved in the project including construction managers, building service engineers and quantity surveyors before and during construction
- Feasibility studies – Determining whether or not a building project can be delivered within budget or other restrictions
- Applying for planning permission – Applying for planning permission from local government and ensuring project meets all local regulations
- Drawing up contracts – Gathering tender documents and producing construction and building contracts before commencing work on project
- Assessing environmental impact – Assessing the environmental impact of the project and assuring any negative environmental effects are mitigated
- Project management – Managing the project from start to finish by coordinating workers, communicating with clients and remaining on hand to resolve any issues that might arise
- Visiting site – Carrying out regular site visits to ensure project is running smoothly
What do architects need?
Architecture is a career with a significant amount of responsibility. For this reason, a degree and practical experience are essential. Additional skills and personal attributes can also be incredibly beneficial.
While specific requirements may vary between roles, here’s a general overview of what’s needed:
Part I architectural assistant jobs are predominantly entry-level. Candidates will need to have studied or be studying for an Architecture degree, but do not yet need to have completed their compulsory practical experience. They will require a great deal of supervision on the job.
Part II architectural assistant jobs are open to candidates who have completed their Architecture degree and are studying for their Masters or Diploma. They should have also completed at least one year of practical experience.
Part III architect jobs and above require candidates to have completed both degrees, as well as several years of practical experience. Candidates must be registered with the Architecture Registration Board (ARB) to be legally permitted to use the title ‘Architect’.
In addition to qualifications, architects should possess certain soft skills to work safely, efficiently and to a high standard.
- Attention to detail: Paying the utmost attention to detail when drawing, designing and creating plans to guarantee that buildings are safe and feasible
- Communication: Excellent verbal and written communication skills when liaising with clients, construction workers, surveyors, contractors and more
- Teamwork and leadership: Managing and coordinating a team, taking the lead role in a project and making important decisions
- Creativity: Using imagination to envisage and design structures that are aesthetically pleasing, innovative and in line with clients’ requirements
- Analytical skills: Assessing and analysing situations, problem-solving and adapting a project when necessary
- Organisation: Balancing and prioritising multiple tasks at once, organising schedules, working to deadlines and ensuring project remains within budget constraints
- Numeracy skills: Strong maths skills when calculating dimensions, drawing and working within a budget
These harder, more architecture-specific skills are also essential:
- Knowledge of Building Information Modelling: An interest in and understanding of Building Information Modelling
- Drawing proficiency: Proficiency in drawing both by hand and when using CAD software such as AutoCAD or Microstation
- 3D thinking: Ability to think in three dimensions and visualise 3D structures well
- Building regulations knowledge: Regulations set by national government and local councils covering anything from health & safety to energy efficiency
Architecture carries one of the longest qualification routes for any profession in the UK.
To work as an architect in the UK, candidates must complete several years of study and practical work experience. There are a few ways this can be done.
Additionally, architects must continue to learn and develop throughout their careers to ensure they’re providing the highest qualify of work possible.
Here is a breakdown of the exact qualifications needed to be an architect:
The traditional pathway into architecture takes around seven years to complete. Accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), it consists of three parts.
Part I is comprised of an undergraduate degree course in Architecture (usually a BA or BSc) which takes three or four years to complete. Following this, students must complete one year of supervised practical experience working as an architectural assistant. It is possible for candidates to be employed in architectural role with only Part 1 – but only in junior roles
Part II involves two years of further study towards a Masters, Diploma or other similar higher qualification. Once finished, at least another year of experience is required, though some people choose to work for two years or more at this stage.
Part III is an examination in professional practice and management, including both written and oral elements. After passing the exam, candidates must register with the ARB to be able to use the protected title ‘Architect.’ They can also apply for chartered architect status through RIBA. Though not compulsory, this can lead to better career prospects.
To qualify for an undergraduate degree and start on this pathway, candidates need strong A-Levels in a combination of both arts and science subjects, a portfolio and must also attend an interview. Conversion courses from other disciplines are not possible.
For those wishing to qualify at a faster pace, an architecture apprenticeship might be a better option.
The architectural assistant apprenticeship lasts around four years. It allows students to complete Part I of the traditional route at the same time as their practical experience. Entry requirements vary but usually involve two A-Levels at A-C and five GCSEs with a minimum of a B or equivalent in maths and English.
If they’ve already completed Part I of the RIBA process, candidates can also combine Part II and Part III in what is known as the architect apprenticeship. This route also takes four years, so may also be useful for anyone who wants to start working quickly.
The RIBA Studio also offers a course in partnership with Oxford Brookes University that combines Part I and Part II of the traditional route. Similar to the architecture apprenticeship, this course allows students the opportunity to complete Part I and Part II qualifications at their own pace while simultaneously gaining work experience.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Continuing Professional Development is the process by which architects continue to learn and develop skills throughout their careers. It ensures that practising professionals are up to date with the latest industry developments, and can work safely and effectively.
Chartered architects need to complete 35 hours of CPD per year. Typically, architecture CPD can be divided into three forms depending on how it is studied: structured, reflective or self-directed. Activities include training events and conferences, online learning, reading industry literature and training other professionals.
RIBA offer a Professional Education and Development Resource (PEDR) service online that allows architects to record their experience in an online diary.
Some jobs, especially those requiring site and client visits, may ask for a full, clean driving license.
RIBA offer a Professional Education and Development Resource (PEDR) service online that allows architects to record their experience in an online diary.
What is expected of architects?
Architects are generally expected to commit to the following:
- Full time hours – Typically a regular Monday-Friday, 9-5 work pattern with part-time work exceedingly rare
- Evening and weekend work – Evening and weekend work is often needed when working on a project
- Overtime – Overtime is also extremely common when deadlines are nearing, and architects will often need to work long hours during those periods
- Location – Work usually takes place in an office or agency
- Site and home visits – Architects will need to visit construction sites, clients’ homes and other areas
- Safety equipment – Architects must wear protective clothing when visiting sites
Architects can expect generous benefits that will likely include some of the following:
- Pension scheme
- Paid holiday allowance
- Self-employment options
- Travel reimbursements (e.g. petrol costs)
- Company car
Who employs architects?
Architects are needed whenever a building is being built or renovated, so there is a strong demand for them across the UK. They will normally work for large construction companies such as house builders, or for architectural companies who provide design services to other businesses who build properties.
Key architect employers include:
- Architecture firms – Companies who provide outsourced building design services to other companies
- House builders
- Property developers
- Commercial and industrial organisations
Which junior jobs progress to architect roles?
As it’s impossible to become an architect without completing specific qualifications, there are no junior jobs that lead to the role from experience alone.
However, most junior architects begin their career as an architectural assistant. Technically, this counts as a separate role due to the protected status of the title ‘Architect’, so here’s a little more information about this position:
Architectural assistants provide assistance and support to architects. Their duties include preparing construction drawings, dealing with client queries and carrying out relevant administrative tasks so the architect can focus on more pressing tasks. This role is a vital introduction to the world of architecture. It prepares candidates for a fully-fledged architect position by developing their attention to detail, communication and organisational skills.
Which senior jobs do architects progress to?
There is no set career structure for architects. Many continue to practice under the title of architect for most of their careers, though their salary, workload and level of responsibility will increase as time goes on.
Architects with more than five years of chartered membership may be awarded Fellow of RIBA status and can then use the affix FRIBA. This award is highly prestigious and celebrates a significant contribution to the practice of architecture.
Self-employment is also extremely popular, and for many architects, the pinnacle of their career is establishing their own practice. There are also further options, including the below:
Project managers are responsible for managing projects from initial concept to completion. Within the architecture industry, their responsibilities include selecting contractors, overseeing work on-site and communicating progress to internal management and external stakeholders. Project management experience within architecture could also lead to roles as a project manager in other related industries, such as construction, engineering and interior design.
Lead architects occupy a senior managerial role within a team of architects. They are in charge of directing architectural projects, taking a lead role in the design process and ensuring projects fit into the wider strategy and vision of the organisation. Lead architects will also be responsible for supervising junior architects and other construction professionals.
Architect job description – conclusion
Whether completing innovative new builds to change a city’s landscape or renovating older houses to accommodate a growing population, the demand for architects remains high across the UK.
While training to become an architect is extremely challenging and takes a great deal of patience and persistence, the job can be incredibly rewarding. An above average salary, opportunities for self-employment and the chance to positively impact people’s lives by changing the landscape we live in are just some of the perks of this fulfilling career.