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Leslie Gilmour

What it Takes to Become an Architect

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Becoming an architect takes a whole lot of commitment, dedication and desire. Being an architect is a serious professional career; nobody pursues it just because they like to draw or because they think it sounds fun. There is so much more to being an architect than many think and it is no easy process.

Architecture is regarded by many as a multi-discipline career. That is because being an architect is not just about being a good designer, but being a good mathematician and having a scientific way of thinking too.

You cannot simply design a building and hire a construction company to throw it up, either. Planning permissions, building codes and engineering costs all feature heavily in an architect’s career and you need to know all about them.

How do I become an Architect?

This is, of course, the question which you have come here to find the answer for. In Ireland, the title ‘architect’ is protected by legislation and only those with their names on the Register of Architects can use it.

With everything you need to learn, becoming an architect takes a number of years in education and undergoing specialist training. The requirements vary around the world, but in Ireland, the requirements stipulate that –

  • You must graduate with a prescribed degree in architecture
  • Undergo two years’ postgraduate professional training
  • Complete a professional practice examination mandated by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI).

To put things into perspective, a prescribed degree in architecture lasts for five years of full-time studies which can easily turn into six years if you elect to take a year out for industrial work placement.

It is a huge commitment, so you need to be absolutely sure that being an architect is the right career for you. If you are up for it academically and know that it is what you want to do, it is a very rewarding and challenging career where no one day is the same.

Three Reasons to Become an Architect

Looking around online, there is a lot of talk about the negative sides of being an architect such as the huge amount of study, the competition for industrial placements and jobs and the long hours that you will work. Instead, let’s look at some of the reasons to pursue a career in architecture.

Simply put, architecture is amazing

Whilst studying at university, you are taught to be a problem solver and use design, construction and history to solve them. It changes the way you think, the way you look at the world and the way you interact with others. Studying at architecture school fine-tunes your brain and makes you think like an architect.

Architecture is a huge industry

And it is constantly growing. The internet, technology and computers have completely transformed the way in which the architecture industry operates and how the profession itself is practiced. It has grown beyond just being a career to an artform in its own right, with thousands of online blogs, vlogs and resources. You can even choose to explore internships or jobs in industry-related companies, such as Corell Timber – or even just talk to different employees to gain a vaster knowledge of the industry as a whole.

The best part of the architecture industry is that it is so vast and dynamic; there is plenty of work available for everybody and no one project is the same. In an architecture career, you can thrive based off of your own unique skills and strengths, rather than having to change yourself to suit the idea of a ‘perfect architect’ because there is no such thing.

Architecture lets you do what you love for the rest of your life

As the saying goes, if you choose a job which you love then you’ll never have to work a day in your life. If architecture is your one true passion, then there is no reason why you cannot do it for the rest of your life.

The architectural career is held in high esteem, it is universally recognised as a professional career with high standards which attracts some of the world’s brightest young minds. As an architect, you will probably meet clients who are truly influential and well-known figures themselves, which reflects just how high-brow an architectural career can be.

Many of today’s most innovative housing and other construction products will have far-reaching positive effects on people for decades to come; it is a profession which truly does its best to help people and that is truly satisfying.

Is it All Fun and Games?

No, but no career is. There are plenty of downsides to becoming an architect, just like there are with any professional career.

Architecture is a career known for having very long hours; the design process can often be lengthy and drawn out. In architectural school and the professional working environment, pulling all-nighters working on projects is the norm. Of course, this type of working environment does not attract everybody – architects included – so there are plenty of firms who adopt a fairly normal Monday to Friday 9 to 5 pattern of working. But, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to work more hours than normal.

As you have already seen, there is a lot of school involved. If you compare becoming an architect to becoming a doctor or lawyer, you will see that there is just as much – if not more in some cases – school involved. Lawyers typically qualify after six years, doctors after seven whereas some architects can be in education and internships for as many as eight years.

Something you may not have considered is that your career will be in the hands of how the economy is performing. Although this is something regularly overlooked, it is a key consideration. Who is going to be investing in new construction projects when the economy is weak or going through a financial meltdown? Nobody, that’s the answer. Although this is something you’re not going to have to worry about until you are an actual architect, it is still worth thinking about as it can impact your work and overall job security, especially if you’re an independent and not working for a firm.

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