Becoming an Architect in the UK
ARCHITECTURE is one of the most cross-discipline careers you can find. Only those with a creative mind can design buildings from scratch, but architecture also needs meticulous mathematics and precise science. On top of learning a varied, practical skill set, architects also need to know about planning permission, engineering costs and building codes. However, once qualified, architecture is a diverse living where no two days will be the same!
The job title of ‘architect’ is protected by law so that only those who are fully qualified through approved avenues can use the title. Indeed, architects in some countries are addressed as Architect, rather than Mr/Mrs/Ms, before surnames, in a similar way as doctors! An undergraduate degree in Architecture is required, followed by a taught Masters degree, several years of monitored work experience, and written examinations.
With all there is to learn, it is no surprise that becoming an architect takes specialist training of at least 7 years. In Britain, five of those years are in full-time education – and therefore unpaid!
Steps to becoming an architect:
You need to study an undergraduate degree from a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) validated course. These last between three and four years and will provide you with the basic skills of drawing and CAD (computer-aided design) drawing, as well as theoretical, historical, material and technical issues. Validated courses usually include the RIBA Part I examinations that all architects require. Upon completing an undergraduate degree, you will have to gain practical experience before moving on to the next stage. This usually takes one year, and during this time students record their Professional Experience Development Record (PEDR). This is monitored by both a Professional Studies Advisor (PSA) from the university you studied at, and an employment mentor from the placement you work for. Some people spend more than a year in these placements to get extra work experience, or save some money, before moving on to part two.
After at least a year’s work experience, you go back to university to complete your postgraduate degree. This could be a BArch, a DipArch or a MArch, but they will all last two years fulltime. Design modules are often taught in more specialist studios, whilst ‘crits,’ or critiques, involve you presenting your design work to your tutors for feedback. After completing the postgraduate course and obtaining the RIBA Part 2 qualification you will be required to continue with some work experience. You should be under the direct supervision of a fully-qualified architect, and you will now be given more responsibility on projects. As before, this will need to be recorded and monitored on the PEDR website for it to count.
A total of at least 24 months' work experience (i.e. 12 months before the postgraduate degree and 12 months afterwards) is required before moving onto part three: The final exam. In Britain, the RIBA has its own RIBA Part 3 qualification - the Advanced Diploma in Professional Practice in Architecture. This first assesses your competence as an architect before you can sign up for the exam itself. The exam lasts for three days. The first two days involve answering ‘practice problems,’ while the third day is for compiling your submission, which needs to include your CV, a Self Evaluation, a Case Study, the PEDR log sheets from your work experience, and the answers to the Practice Problems. You will have to be overseen by your nominated supervisor, and there are fees for registration, completion of the online course and the examination.
Once the final exams are passed, this qualifies someone to register with the Architect’s Registration Board (ARB) and the job title of ‘architect’ can be used. To make an impact on way the world looks, it might be worth so many years in training!