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05 December 2016Last updated
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Ask the expert: how do I become an architect?

Creativity and a passion for design are essential traits to be a successful architect

Sanjeev Verma
4 Nov 2016 | 12:00 am
  • Source:Shutterstock

I’m in high school. I think I want to study architecture, but I am not sure and don’t know what subjects to choose.

Selecting a programme best suited to your aptitude and skills is always a challenge, especially if you have interest in different fields. While for some who only want to pursue a certain field, be it medicine, engineering or law, this selection may not be tedious, for a majority of students it is indeed harrowing to make the right choice.

To assist students in narrowing their selection and to support their career choices, educational assessments like psychometric and aptitude tests are conducted. These quantitative tests are accredited and administered by professional counsellors to assess an individual’s intelligence, aptitude and personality traits and to help parents and students make objective and informed decisions about their career choices.

Having said that, with the multitude of psychometric tests available on the internet, the selection of the right test is in itself critical. Ask your college counsellor to assist with selecting a test most suitable for you.

For a career in architecture, you would need strong drawing skills and to be comfortable in drawing freehand, and in thinking and drawing in 3D as most colleges will require you to present a portfolio of your work. Maths and Physics are two subjects that need to be pursued in high school. Creativity and a passion for design are essential traits to be a successful architect. On the ground, team work, problem-solving and analytical skills will be required.

To give you an idea of what’s involved, in the United Kingdom to become an architect you need to start with an undergraduate degree in architecture in a programme that has been accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). After this, you will have to undertake one year of supervised work experience, usually in an architect’s office but it could also be in any sector of the building industry. After this you need to complete your Masters (two years) to receive RIBA Part-2 qualification, before completing another year of work and this time it must be in an architect’s office. After clearing the Part 3 RIBA examination, you will be qualified to practise as a professional architect and to become a chartered member of the RIBA.

In college, in addition to design, you will learn about structural engineering, construction, building materials and the environment. Along with design, you could also pursue more specialised areas such as sustainable architecture, town planning, technology, conservation and management.

Job prospects range from being self-employed to working in small- to medium-sized firms to much larger practices that will incorporate other professional areas, such as planning, urban design, construction or project management. The government also employs architects in its planning departments. Other employers include construction companies, commercial, financial and industrial organisations and retailers and manufacturers. Teaching and research institutions are also options.

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Sanjeev Verma

Sanjeev Verma

is a leading international education counsellor