How to Become an Architect


Architects create technical drawings and plans of different types of buildings. They are responsible for designing and planning safe and legal structures that meet requirements and budgets, as well as overseeing projects while they are in construction.

Architects use design, mathematics, and science skills to create detailed plans for various buildings. They consider all aspects of a building in their plan and try to add the maximum amount of value to their projects – considering material, space, light, and size in their design. While architects are interested in aesthetics when creating their plans, they also must ensure that safety and legalities are at the core of all of their work.

Architects may work on:

  • New buildings, including housing developments, landmark urban buildings, or state buildings like hospitals and schools.
  • Renovations of existing buildings, such as adding extensions or loft conversions.
  • Restorations of old buildings and making them fit for use.

An architect’s typical duties may include:

  • Creating technical plans for different types of buildings; which type they will work on will depend on their employer and specialism.
  • Considering safety regulations and laws (national and local) involving noise and privacy during the creation of the plans.
  • Collaborating with other professionals, such as town planners and construction project managers, to assess the viability of the project.
  • Undertaking site visits to visualise the plans and confirm that all safety requirements will be met.
  • Staying within client budgets when organising material, resource and labour costs.
  • Overseeing the construction of the project after the initial planning phase.
  • Revisiting and reviewing plans and making alterations if necessary.

To become an architect, a candidate must either have an architect degree or have completed an architect apprenticeship. The degree is generally around five years with time out for practical work. Students will need to organise placements for 1-2 years at a time. After graduating, they will need to do more practical work before eventually qualifying.

Architecture apprenticeships are of a similar length and still give the architect a degree or masters qualification, but learning takes a more vocational approach. Many applicants for apprenticeships and degrees will need to have a portfolio of their work – this will often be formed of plans for theoretical projects. Any background in design will also help strengthen a potential architect’s application.

There is scope to progress in an architect’s career. Those working for private firms could become a partner, or architects in public sectors could progress to be a lead architect. Some architects become self-employed and work on a freelance basis; this is typically a possibility once an architect has an impressive profile and has built connections in the industry.

Architects need to have a high level of imagination and creativity, yet also have analytical skills and a keen attention to detail in all areas of the project. Being an architect comes with a great amount of responsibility, as they are accountable for the safe construction of buildings. They must have excellent knowledge of design, construction, and an aptitude for the software needed in the entire architectural process.

What degree is most commonly held by an Architect?

  • Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.)
  • Postgraduate Diploma
  • Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: High
There are plenty of projects all over the world that require qualified architects; sometimes people from other countries will be commissioned for one-time projects, or they may be taken on by a firm for a longer period of time. The software that is used for architectural projects does sometimes differ from country to country, and qualification and experience levels can vary. It is important to bear all of this in mind when seeking architectural jobs abroad - however, with the right qualifications and experience, it is generally simple for architects to emigrate.

What is the Salary of an Architect?

Experience Average salary | year
Architect 1-3 yrs $113,0000 £34,000 $39,688
Architect 3-5 yrs $133,000 £40,000 $49,262
Lead Architect 5-10 yrs $250,000 £75,000 $92,000

What skills are needed to become an Architect?

  • Architectural Design
  • AutoCAD
  • Architecture
  • Design Research
  • Sustainable Design
  • SketchUp
  • Revit
  • Residential Design
  • Urban Design
  • Mixed-use
  • Architectural Drawings
  • Construction Drawings
  • Interior Design
  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • Photoshop
  • Comprehensive Planning
  • Construction
  • Architectures
  • Microsoft Office
  • BIM
  • Space Planning
  • Submittals
  • InDesign
  • Interior Architecture
  • Feasibility Studies

Architectural Courses

Architects are expected to have a really deep understanding of many intellectual and vocational fields, including design, construction theory, and building law. This means that people who are thinking of becoming an architect would benefit by educating themselves as much as possible and taking some supplementary courses. At FutureLearn, we have courses on topics like Sustainable Construction and Development and Modern Building Design to aid future architects with their learning process.

  • Modern Building Design

    Learn how climate change technology and regulation are changing modern building design and professional practice in construction

  • Preserving Norwegian Stave Churches

    Stave Churches are an important part of Norway's heritage Discover how Norwegian Stave Churches have been restored and preserved

  • Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City

    Explore the architecture and history of Rome walking around a 3D digital model of the ancient city with this free online course

  • BIM Implementation within the AEC Industry

    Understand Building Information Modelling BIM and how to implement it with this course for professionals working in AEC

Need even more evidence about why you should learn on FutureLearn?

We partner with over 170 world-class universities, institutions and industry leaders to create world-class courses to help you with your career. Whether you’re just starting out, wanting to deepen your knowledge or change direction, FutureLearn and our partners can help. These are just a few of our world-leading partners.

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