This career area encompasses a wide range of activities and responsibilities involved in planning and designing buildings and the surrounding environment. Opportunities exist within the public and private sectors in the UK and overseas with excellent opportunities for career development.
The prospects profiles are very useful and give clear information about the different aspects of each job role along with details about how to qualify and academic requirements. You will see that for both Architect and Landscape Architect you will need to complete further study. Qualifying will be a lengthy and potentially very expensive process so check which universities offer your course of interest (http://www.ucas.com) and check all of the entry requirements. You are also advised that you look at the job adverts to see what employers are seeking from applicants.
To succeed in this sector it is clear that interpersonal skills, ability to network and tenacity and determination are essential. It is therefore wise to think about your own attributes and decide whether you could compete effectively. If you have doubts, think about what development opportunities could help you to succeed.
The prospects profiles highlight entry routes for this career area. For architecture, as well as the full time study route an alternative, ‘office based’ route does exist through which people qualify. However, this is aimed at people who have been employed in an architectural practice (usually as technicians or technologists) for 7 years. Further details about this qualification route can be found here.
Working in an entry level role such as a clerical/administrative position in this sector during university vacations can be an excellent way to gain an insight. You can network with staff and develop your commercial awareness, giving yourself a clear understanding of this sector. Please investigate these opportunities by using our vacancies page, the Job Centre website or alternatively identify relevant recruitment agencies through www.rec.uk.com and select ‘I am a Jobseeker’ then ‘Consultancy Finder’.
Sources of vacancies
Four of the best websites for finding vacancies in the architecture and landscape architecture areas are:
- Opportunities advertised are for across the whole of the UK
- New opportunities are added regularly
- The website is free to use
- It features a topical blog with articles about the industry
- It features vacancies for a range of roles at different levels
- New opportunities are frequently added
- You can register to receive updates on new jobs but you may receive emails about other areas too
- Opportunities advertised are for across the UK and globally
- Opportunities advertised are for across the whole of the UK
- It features opportunities for Part 1 and Part 2 placement students as well as for qualified and experienced architects
- It features a careers support section with advice on applications and interviews
- Opportunities are advertised for the UK and overseas
- Job adverts are detailed and clear
- It features a careers opportunities ranging from new graduate to chartered/senior positions
As it is likely you will be returning to university to study if you plan to enter this sector you should initially try to arrange some work experience with a relevant organisation or firm. This will help to justify your choice to admissions tutors and ensure that you understand the realities of your career of interest. You will also be exposed to experienced professionals and students at different stages of their training.
University courses in this sector often involve industry placements and in addition students usually seek relevant experience in the long summer vacations. This is crucial for the decision making process regarding long term career plans and to help secure paid positions for the professional experience elements of qualifying. If you are applying for a university course you could ask about links with industry. Always ensure that the course is recognised by the relevant professional body before you accept a place. This is crucial for all parts of architecture training and for postgraduate study for landscape architecture.
Voluntary work and university activities
Being involved in relevant positions and activities in university clubs and societies can be an excellent way to gain valuable experience. See www.dsu.org.uk to find clubs and societies that appeal to your interests. Volunteering could also help you to succeed in this career area. Try to get involved with a charity involved in heritage, building conservation or the natural environment to demonstrate your wider commitment (see www.do-it.org.uk).
Part-time and temporary opportunities
Working in any relevant role or activity can be an excellent way to gain an insight into how organisations operate and the different roles and responsibilities held by staff there. They receive many requests for work experience so make sure you present a professional image whether you are speaking to them on the phone or via your CV.
Careers Employability and Enterprise Centre presentations and career fairs
Opportunities exist for Architects and Landscape Architects in self employment, consultancy, public and private sectors. Larger organisations usually incorporate additional professional areas including planning, urban design, project management and construction.
Central and local government employ architects and landscape architects in planning departments although sometimes consultants and private firms are hired to complete projects.
Some experienced architects and landscape architects work in the academic sphere, sharing their knowledge through teaching students and also carry out research in their specialist area.
Top UK architecture firms
Building Design recently published their list of the world's top architecture firms. Their highly ranked UK firms are shown below. These often employ both architects and landscape architects along with other professionals.
In 2002 LPT Architects in Hong Kong and Abbey Holford Rowe in the UK joined together to form Aedas LPT and Aedas AHR respectively. In 2003 Following a merger with TCN Architects of Birmingham in 2003, the name Aedas was adopted for all areas of the practice with the LPT and AHR being dropped from the Hong Kong and UK practice names later in 2003. The most recent partner is Davis Brody Bond Aedas, an award-winning American architectural firm with headquarters in New York.
UK office: Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Huddersfield, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Shrewsbury
2: Foster and Partners
Foster and partners was founded by Manchester architect Norman Foster in London in 1967.
The practice collaborates with engineers to create complex and innovative structures such as the Swiss Re London headquarters, also known as The Gherkin.
UK office: London.
3: BDP International
Architect George Grenfell Baines founded BDP International in 1961. The practice, which now employs more than 1200 architects, designers and engineers, designed Brent Cross Shopping Centre, in north London as well as the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, in Brighton, and the Glasgow Science centre.
UK office: Manchester, Winchester, London, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool,
A Scottish firm of architects, RMJM was founded in 1956 in Edinburgh by British architects Robert Matthew and Stirrat Johnson-Marshall.
It now employs 1,200 people in 14 offices around the world and is known for its work in the higher education sector. RMJM designed all the student campuses for the Universities of Stirling and York. In 2007, it was awarded the top prize for its renovation of two buildings at Kent University.
UK office: Cambridge, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
5: Atkins Design Studio
The largest engineering consultancy in the UK, Atkins was founded in 1938 by Sir William Atkins.
It provides engineering, design, planning, project management and consultancy services in 25 countries and employs more than 18,000 people.
Atkins designed the luxurious Burj Al Arab hotel, a striking sail-shaped hotel on Dubai’s coast, as well as the Millenium Stadium, in Cardiff.
UK office: Bristol, Exeter, Glastonbury, Plymouth, Swindon, Croydon, Orpington, Tunbridge Wells, Epsom, Winchester, Oxford, Farnham, London, Chelmsford, Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough, Southend-on-sea, Swansea, Cardiff, Denbighshire, Birmingham, Telford, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, Derby, Daventry, Nottingham, Northampton, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, Cheshire, Crewe, Manchester, Cumbria, Warrington, Newcastle upon Tyne, Stockton-on-Tees, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow.
6: Capita Architecture
The UK’s third largest architectural practice, Capita Architecture’s key skills lie in architecture, interior design, urban design, masterplanning and healthcare planning.
Its biggest schemes include the Millennium Centre in Cardiff.
UK office: London, Plymouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, Carlisle and Glasgow.
7: Broadway Malyan
Broadway Malyan is an international practice of architects that was founded in 1958. It employs more than 700 people around the world.
Among its most famous designs are the BP headquarters in Surrey.
UK office: London, Weybridge, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Reading.
8: Chapman Taylor
An international firm of architects, masterplanners and designers with 500 staff worldwide.
The practice designed the shopping and leisure area for the new St Pancras station and parts of Heathrow airport’s new Terminal 5.
UK office: London and Manchester.
9: Archial Group
An award-winning form of architects with offices in 20 locations around the world.
UK office: London, Plymouth, Exeter, Bournemouth, Ipswich, Cambridge, Bedford, Warwick, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness.
10: Hamilton Architects Ltd
The company was founded by Alan Hamilton in 1972 in Belfast.
It is a major architectural brand in Ireland but the scope of its projects are international. Projects range from a £250,000 European Commission Information Point to a new £70 million office block in Belfast.
Hamilton Architects has also built a number of Greyhound racing stadiums and was responsible for renovating the Ulster Museum, in Ireland.
UK office: Belfast and Londonderry.
A list of the Top 100 UK architecture firms by annual revenue can be found at www.tech-ls.com/Info/toparch.htm. This features links to their websites and is an excellent resource for researching employers in the sector.
The undergraduate degree and RIBA diplomas (parts 1 and 2) are the standard qualifications required to enter a career in architecture. Post graduate qualifications are available in specialist areas such as conservation and building/construction law. Continuous professional development is a continuous feature of this career. Undergraduate degrees can be identified at http://www.ucas.ac.uk. You should ensure that any qualifications considered, whether under- or postgraduate, are accredited by RIBA. A list of accredited courses can be found at www.architecture.com.
Qualified architects can work towards chartership through the RIBA with support from their employers and to maintain this status need to complete 35 hours of continuing professional development per year in the 6 areas shown below:
- health and safety;
- professional context;
- practice management;
- managing projects;
- construction skills;
- personal skills development.
Postgraduate study in Landscape Architecture can help you to succeed if you want to enter this career. It is likely that you would also need to complete an undergraduate course if your degree is not in a related area. You could contact postgraduate course providers to investigate whether you would be admitted to their course with your current qualifications. Undergraduate degrees in landscape architecture can be identified at http://www.ucas.ac.uk. Under- and postgraduate courses accredited by the Landscape Institute can be identified at http://www.landscapeinstitute.org/education/accredited_courses.php.
Professional bodies represent practitioners working within specific sectors. They play an integral role in professional development and training and are often a source of graduate vacancies. For anyone with a specific career role in mind it is very important to establish what support, information and opportunities are available through the respective professional body.
The key professional bodies for the Architecture sector are:
- Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) - UK’s main professional body for the architectural profession
- Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) - professional body for chartered architects in Scotland
- Royal Society of Ulster Architects - professional body for chartered architects in Northern Ireland
- Architects Registration Board (ARB) - UK’s statutory regulator of architects. Website includes information and guidelines on qualifications, training and professional standards
- Professional Education and Development Resource (PEDR) - information and guidance relating to professional services and learning support for those working towards becoming an architect
- Chartered Institute of Architectural Technology (CIAT) - professional body for architectural technologists in the UK
- Archaos - Student run society for students of architecture
- The Landscape Institute - professional body for the landscape architecture industry
It can be advantageous to join a professional body as a student member as this can give you access to professionals within the sector and details of conferences and training events. Before you join you should ensure that the benefits are worthwhile. Employers usually pay for your membership and training once you start your career so weigh up the pros and cons carefully.