Architect • Job Description, Salary & Benefits

Architects design houses, buildings and other similar structures. These designs are applied to new buildings, renovations, refurbishments and extensions of existing structures.

Architects are also central to the process of redesigning, restoring and repairing dilapidated or damaged buildings, including protected buildings, estates and monuments.

An architect is involved in the entire construction process, from initial designs, drawings and models of the proposal, to alterations based on client requirements.

The architect collaborates actively with other construction professionals throughout the complete project, providing critical input on the smallest details right up to final inspection and approval sign-offs.

They must also comply with local zoning, statutory and regulatory standards for different types of buildings and structures.

During this process, the architect has to bear in mind structural integrity, the surrounding terrain and environmental conditions, optimal utilisation of available space and, not least, the appearance of the structure.

The design and aesthetic of our urban (and rural) surroundings quite literally shape our lives, so the decisions of an architect should not be taken lightly!

Salary & benefits

Salaries depend mainly on the place of employment and the level of experience. Graduate architects can expect salaries of £15,000-£19,000.

Those who’ve completed RIBA Part II qualifications receive between £19,000 and £30,000, while registered architects earn between £30,000 and £35,000. With over five years of experience, salaries can be in the range of £40,000 to £100,000.

Working hours

Life as a self-employed architect provides a certain degree of freedom in terms of working hours and choosing projects. For salaried architects, though, such flexibility is rare or non-existent.

Newly qualified architects may end up doing a lot of grunt work, such as drafting, visiting project sites and reporting in to the architect in charge of the project.

The amount of office-based work and actual designing increases with growing experience and confidence.


The road to becoming a qualified architect is long and arduous: around seven or eight years of full-time study and work experience, not to mention the completion of an unhealthy number of examinations.

The profession is governed by two main industry bodies: the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The full academic, work experience and professional qualification process culminates in registration with the ARB and becoming a RIBA member. The process itself involves taking the following steps:

– A 3-4 year degree in architecture

– One year of supervised practical experience in an architectural or other construction-related practice

– An advanced 2-year degree or diploma in architecture

– 12 months of supervised work experience under a qualified architect

– Successful completion of RIBA Part III examinations in professional practice and management

– And, finally, registration with the ARB and obtaining chartered membership of RIBA!

Training & progression

Registered architects are required to complete 35 hours of CPD (continuing professional development) each year, while familiarising themselves with the latest developments in the field, including CAD modelling, project management, environmental impact, and landscape and interior design.

Most architects are experienced in both interior and landscape work, in addition to their technical, architectural expertise.

Typically, architects begin their careers as salaried employees in construction and property development companies or as trainees in large private practices, where they complete their professional training and gain work experience.

Many architects go on to set up their own businesses as solo practitioners or in partnership with colleges and contacts.

Building a significant portfolio of successful projects and first-class designs (award-winning or otherwise) are necessities for such a ‘structured’ career.

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