Do you look at buildings and wonder about their construction? Are you creative yet analytical and good at problem-solving? You may be suited to a career in architecture.
Architecture is a large industry, incorporating several roles, from interior and landscape architects to CAD designers and building inspectors.
One of the ways to access this diverse sector is to complete an architecture apprenticeship.
What is an architecture apprenticeship?
An architecture apprenticeship is a degree apprenticeship where you can learn to be an architect with roughly 80% on-the-job training and 20% classroom time.
As with other apprenticeships, you will earn a liveable wage and forgo costly loans for university courses and exams.
Depending on your level of experience and education, you can apply for one of two main architecture degree apprenticeships, run by The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA):
- Level 6 Architectural Assistant, including Part 1 qualification
- Level 7 Architect, including Part 2 and Part 3 qualifications
Both courses are also approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.
RIBA has also validated several apprenticeship degree apprenticeships with UK universities.
If you reside in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, visit your Government or local authority website to find your national equivalent apprenticeships.
What does a typical day look like for an architecture apprentice?
As an architecture apprentice, you will have the opportunity to observe and learn from registered architects. You will also build a new skillset by performing tasks such as:
- Compile feasibility reports
- Research environmental impact
- Estimate costs
- Create proposals, including timelines and budgets
- Sit in on client meetings
- Prepare sketches, blueprints and potentially 2D and 3D models
How long does it take to complete?
The level 6 and level 7 architecture degree apprenticeships tend to last approximately four years.
Level 6 and level 7 architecture degree apprenticeships typically take four years each to complete. However, relevant qualifications can sometimes be converted into UCAS points, enabling you to complete the course more quickly.
What qualifications do you gain?
- Level 6 Architectural Assistant Apprenticeship – A Bachelor’s degree and a Part 1 qualification
- Level 7 Architect Apprenticeship – A Masters of Architecture (MArch) Part 2 and Part 3 qualifications
After completing the level 7 architecture apprenticeship, you can register as an architect with the Architects Registration Board.
How much will I earn?
As a UK apprentice, you are guaranteed to earn at least the minimum wage for your age group. As of April 2023, this is:
- Under 18: £4.81
- 18-20: £6.83
- 21-22: £9.18
- 23 and over: £9.50
Since architecture apprenticeships typically take four years to complete, your salary will likely increase after the first year and potentially each year.
Many companies will pay more to attract a higher calibre of apprentices.
What are the entry requirements?
The standard entry requirements for any apprenticeship are as follows:
- You must be 16 or older
- Not currently in full-time education
- A UK resident
In addition, as architecture apprenticeships are level 6 and 7-degree apprenticeships, you will usually need to have:
- A Graduate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering or Science
- The ability to design frameworks
- Fluency in various software and design programs
- Fluency in computing, scripting and process analysis
- A problem-solving mind
What are my career options following an architecture apprenticeship?
Once you have completed your architecture apprenticeship, several options are open to you. Salaries tend to depend on your level of expertise, the responsibilities, and the company you work for. Here’s a rough guide to some of the most popular careers in architecture.
Architect – Approximately £43,000 per year
Using your skills and training, you will create building designs. This involves sketching detailed drawings, calculating measurements, and liaising with designers, construction professionals, and investors. You may also be required to create 3D visualisations and renderings. This can be either an independent position or you can work for a firm.
Interior Architect – Approximately £38,350 per year
Essentially highly qualified interior designers, interior architects plan and design the insides of buildings, including homes, offices, and other commercial structures. They may work at architecture studios, design firms, and textile or furniture manufacturing firms.
Landscape Architect – Approximately £31,400 per year
From the inside to the exterior. Landscape architects design outdoor spaces such as private gardens, public parks and playgrounds. Day-to-day, the job involves client liaison, space preparation, creating sketches and blueprints, and some travel for site visits and client meetings.
CAD Designer – Approximately £28,270 per year
Many architects use computer software to render 2D and 3D designs from sketches and blueprints. Either working for an architecture studio or as freelancers, they combine a knowledge of engineering, physics, materials and maths to assist traditional architects.
Building Inspector – Approximately £29,000 per year
Mandatory at every construction site, building inspectors assess construction projects to ensure they meet compliance regulations, before, and during construction. They recommend alterations to plans, oversee the work of building surveyors, and liaise with stakeholders, local authorities and special interest organisations including heritage groups.
Other roles in architecture include:
- 3D architectural visualiser
- Urban planner
- Restoration manager
- Project manager
- Lighting consultant
- Furniture designer
- Architecture lecturer
Where can I find architecture apprenticeships near me?
The RIBA website lists available architecture apprenticeships and they are also featured on general job sites and apprenticeship sites such as ours. You can find apprenticeships in your area by searching via topic and location simultaneously.
How else can I become an architect?
Apprenticeships are not the right fit for everybody. But don’t worry, you can also take the more traditional university route to become an architect.
This generally takes seven years to qualify – five years at University, plus a minimum of two years of practical experience.
Although there are advantages to the apprenticeship route, some people prefer to get the full university experience. It’s just a matter of what works for you.
There is a third route, which is a part-time course with RIBA. Like an apprenticeship, the RIBA Studio Foundation Course involves both practical experience and studying for qualifications – RIBA Certificate in Architecture Part 1 or Part 2. You also have the chance to build a portfolio.
After that, you will still need to pass a Part 3 course to achieve the desired goal of qualifying as a registered architect.
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