Architecture Graduates: What Next?

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Architects design buildings and other structures. In addition to considering the way these buildings and structures look, they also make sure they are functional, safe, economical and suit the needs of the people who use them.

To be a success in architecture careers, a person requires both creativity and analytical skills. After a graduate or post-graduate degree in architecture, architects have to obtain a license to practice in the US.

Over the course of the five years of study (and two years of work placements) it takes to qualify, an architecture graduate will have covered a wide range of subjects, including history, law, IT, technology and management, as well as a substantial design element. In addition, the student will pick up numerical skills, drawing, computer-aided design and project management skills.

Most architecture jobs are in the architectural, engineering and related services industry. A small number of architects work for residential and non-residential building construction firms and for government agencies. About 21 per cent are self-employed.

A career in architecture may be of several types. A licensed architect, after gaining experience, may take on increasingly responsible duties and eventually manage entire projects. Architects may advance to supervisory or managerial positions in large firms. Some become partners in established firms while others set up their own practices.

The work of an architect involves the following:
  • Discussing the objectives, requirements and budget of a project
  • Providing various predesign services which may include conducting feasibility and environmental impact studies, selecting a site, or specifying the requirements the design must meet
  • Preparing drawings and presenting ideas for the client to review
  • Developing final construction plans that show the building's appearance as well as details for its construction
  • Following building codes, zoning laws, fire regulations, and other ordinances
  • Making necessary changes throughout the planning process
Types of architecture jobs vary. In addition to ''traditional'' careers in architecture, an architectural education may lead to a number of other careers. Some of these are: critic, building inspector, campus planner, developer, landscape architect, graphic designer, set designer, construction manager, professor, interior designer, codes consultant, structural engineer and photographer.

''Beyond the obvious careers of architect and architectural technologist, architecture graduates can also aim for roles where their visual awareness and technical abilities, as well as their understanding of buildings and how they work, will be valuable and relevant,'' says Margaret Holbrough, careers advisor at Graduate Prospects.

Some jobs will require further qualifications but interior and spatial design or landscape architecture, as well as website design, would each utilize the creative and visual skills of the architecture graduate. On the construction side, building surveying or development and planning surveying might appeal, or perhaps other roles within the community and local environment, like town planning, she adds.

There are some specialized areas that could also be of interest to those with a passion for the environment and history - such as historic building inspectors and conservation officers.

Employment of architects is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. To increase one's chances of getting an internship after graduation, prospective architects should gain career-related experience in an architectural firm while still in school.
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