Architects design buildings and the space around them. They develop designs which reflect the client’s needs and specification. They have to make sure that buildings are fit for purpose and meet environmental standards.
Training and qualifications required
To practice as an architect, you have to be registered with the Architects Registration Board. The training takes at least seven years and consists of a recognised undergraduate degree course; a year working in an architect’s office; two years full-time/four years part time, studying for a diploma or higher degree; a further year’s work experience and finally, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Professional Practice Examination. To get onto an undergraduate architecture degree, you usually need at least two A levels (or equivalent level 3 qualifications), along with at least five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English language and maths.
Expected working hours and salary range
Architects in the NHS work standard hours of around 37.5 a week. They may have some evening meetings. Pay will depend on whether they are employed directly by the NHS, in which case they may be on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. An example of a project architect employed by the NHS in May 2015 was on AfC band 8a. If they are contracted as part of an external firm to work on an NHS project, then salaries will be different.
Desirable skills and values
Architects need to be creative, interested in buildings and design, able to pay attention to detail, imaginative, able to work on several projects at a time, able to listen to clients and understand their requirements. They also need to have design skills, project management skills, organisational skills and good business skills.
With experience, you could take on bigger projects and more senior roles. You could manage the work of other architects and construction professionals. You could specialise in a particular aspect of architecture such as heritage. Some architects set up their own private practices, either alongside their NHS work or instead. There may be opportunities to work overseas.