Architects, architectural technologists and technicians: job roles explained
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Architects design buildings that are safe, attractive and as environmentally friendly as possible. They stay involved throughout the construction process, adapting their plans if the budget, environmental factors or the client’s wishes change. They are assisted by architectural technologists and technicians.
Architectural technologists ensure that the technical aspects of a design work and comply with regulations. They work in a similar role to civil engineers in that way. Architectural technologists may also be hired to oversee a project from start to finish.
Technicians help prepare drawings, compile technical information such as surveys, and help put together proposals and contracts.
Most architects, technologists and technicians work in architectural practices; many experienced architects and technologists set up their own. There are a few vacancies with large construction employers and in the public sector.
It’s a good choice if…
- You are good at freehand drawing.
- You are creative.
- You can get your head around maths.
- You can get to grips with detailed information on building regulations.
There are two ways to become an architect:
- Gain two degrees approved by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA): the process takes seven years in total, including two years of work placements. In years one to three you complete an undergraduate qualification (known as ‘part I’). In year four, you complete a work placement. In years five and six you complete ‘part II’ of your qualification (usually you will gain an ‘MArch’ qualification). In year seven, you complete another work placement.
- Complete an apprenticeship to become an architectural assistant or as an architect. Both of these apprenticeships last four years. As an architectural assistant apprentice, you will work towards your part I qualification at university while working for an employer. Entry requirements will vary at different employers but usually include usually two A level grades at A–C and five GCSES with a minimum of a B in maths and English (or equivalent). You need to have completed the part I qualification (either as a university student or as an apprentice) before you can apply for the architect apprenticeship, where you'll work towards your part II qualification.
Please note that the apprenticeship route was only created in July 2018 and so they may not be widely available yet.
Useful subjects to study at A level/highers include art/graphic design, geography, maths and physics, but you should check the entry requirements of the courses that interest you. Some universities want a combination of arts and sciences
Most architectural technologists have studied a three-year degree approved by the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT). Most architectural technologist courses do not request specific subjects at A level (or equivalent), although the CIAT recommends you choose science, technology and/or construction subjects.
Technicians have typically studied an HND/HNC before applying for a job, but there are a few apprenticeships available. With further study, they can become technologists.
Architecture professionals work towards a ‘professional qualification’ when they enter the profession. This is an on-the-job qualification that tells the world that you are qualified to a high standard:
- Architects study to become chartered with RIBA.
- Architectural technologists study to become chartered with the CIAT.
- Architectural technicians study to become technician members of CIAT.
You will be expected to know about the paths to professional qualification if you are interviewed for a job.