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Architecture: construction area of work

Architects, architectural technologists and architectural technicians work together to design structures and oversee their completion.
Working in the architectural profession gives you considerable input into the entire construction process.

Architects design structures that need to be built or restored but their role extends well beyond this. They form an important part of the design team – which often comprises at least one architect, project managers, architectural technicians/technologists, structural engineers, building services engineers, facilities managers and planners. Architects therefore have a considerable input into the entire project. They are usually hired once the initial concept has been decided upon and stay involved right through to completion. They may liaise with the client’s representatives or those of future tenants and will maintain close contact with the contractors once construction begins.

Architectural technicians and architectural technologists give technical support to the architect and the design team. Architectural technicians play an important role in the design process through researching and organising technical information such as user needs, surveys and building regulations; preparing design proposals and specifications for construction work; and sometimes contributing to contract management.

Unlike technicians, qualified architectural technologists are recognised within the construction industry as being able to manage all aspects of the project from the initial designs to contract management and the post-completion phases. Their main role is to work closely with architects to ensure a building design can be realised into a fully functioning structure. They select the best technology, materials and processes, as well as survey sites, analyse drawings and use computer-aided design systems.

Qualifications required to work in architecture

To become an architect you need to undertake a five-year degree course approved by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Architects Registration Board (ARB), gain at least two years’ professional experience and then sit a professional examination. There is no conversion course route. However, if you have been working in an architect’s practice you can take a special RIBA examination to shortcut this qualification process.

Becoming an architectural technologist takes considerably less time – completing a degree in architectural technology or a similar subject, which usually takes three years full time. You can then work towards chartership with the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT). You do not need to be a graduate to work as an architectural technician and you can become a member of the CIAT.

Areas of specialisation for architecture graduates

Architects, technicians and technologists can specialise in a certain type of building such as commercial or residential developments or choose to focus on a specific aspect of architecture such as conservation, project management, technology or design. There are also some academic positions available.

Graduate opportunities in architecture

Many graduates find work in architectural practices; there are also some opportunities in big industry corporations (such as the property departments of retailers) and large construction employers. The public sector also has architecture-related vacancies, though these are harder to find.

Although largely office-based, architects, technicians and technologists spend considerable time on site viewing progress and working with the contractors to solve any design-related problems that arise.

Skills required by graduate recruiters

  • Strong communication, teamworking and negotiating skills
  • Spatial sense and dexterity
  • Numeracy and IT skills, especially the ability to use computer-aided design systems
  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Attention to detail