The architectural profession is varied and although most qualified architects elect to work for private practice, some choose to explore opportunities in other areas such as the construction industry or property development. Private practices can vary enormously in size and you may find yourself working alone or as part of a large team. A number of experienced qualified architects opt to work freelance with a proportion of these electing to work as sole traders.
Since Architects are actively involved from the outset of a project until completion, the recent increased demand for adaptable homes, home extensions and multi-functional open-plan spaces helps this sector to remain largely positive, with the RIBA receiving anecdotal commentary from private practices that workload pipelines remain healthy.
Where do I start?
Within the architecture sector you could be looking at a wide range of occupations. Prospects has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements, career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.
Jobs roles in this sector include:
You could also consider the jobs listed below:
- Building surveyor
- Commercial/residential surveyor
- Higher education lecturer
- Historic buildings inspector/conservation officer
- Landscape architect
- Planning and development surveyor
- Production designer, theatre/television/film
- Structural engineer
- Town planner
As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you research opportunities available. The knowledge gained through your research may help you to target your applications and will help when preparing for interviews.
- Royal Institute of British Architects - Royal Institute of British Architects professional body has jobs, careers advice, news and events.
- ArchDaily - Latest architectural news: projects, products, events, interviews and competitions among others.
- The Architects Newspaper - Source of information on the latest projects and commissions, unfolding politics and debate, and cultural developments related to architecture.
- The Guardian - Architecture news from the Guardian.
- bdonline.co.uk - Architecture news and commentary. Also lists job openings.
- dezeen magazine - Architecture and design blog which provides a carefully edited selection of the best architecture, design and interiors projects from around the world. Also lists job vacancies.
- The Architects' Journal - An industry journal with news, information and the latest architectural ‘Competitions’.
- Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists - The qualifying body for architectural technologists and technicians. Website includes a careers and jobs section.
- Creativepool - Online magazine for the creative industries includes feature articles, news and advice, events and a searchable database of current vacancies.
Competition for jobs in this sector is fierce and work experience is integral to securing a graduate job within the field of Architecture. As well as being an important way to develop your expertise and understanding of architectural practices, completing a variety of work experiences will help you gain the all-important transferrable skills, which employers want. Employers look for good communicators with a strong maths, CAD and scientific skills.
Finding experience will take time and effort; employers receive many CV’s every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through the Purple Door website.
The key to success is to prepare thoroughly, do your research and organise your experience in good time. Think about small and medium size companies as well as large organisations. There is no centralised list of architectural practices who offer work experience, so you need to approach practices directly and ask. Write to architects in your local area, many will take students for one or two weeks’ work experience. If you look in the RIBA Directory of Practices you will find names and addresses plus a short description of the kind of work they do; use this resource to generate a list of organisations to get in touch with. See our ‘Speculative Applications Guide’ for tips on how to write a good speculative letter.
- Riba Appointments - The Royal Institute of British Architects jobs board. Search and apply for Part 1 and Part 2 architectural assistant jobs.
- bd4jobs.com - Building Design's job website, with a selection of recruitment tools on offer to help you find the ideal job. Browse jobs by function to find current Architecture part 1 vacancies
- Mustard - Specialist recruitment agency working across the design sector in the UK and Internationally. Search for current vacancies by sector and location to find relevant part 1 and part 2 architecture jobs.
- Dexigner - Example architecture portfolios
It is also worth considering the voluntary sector for work experience. Purple Door offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. Similarly you can access these opportunities through the paper-based bank located in the Purple Door careers centre.
If you wish to instigate voluntary work experience during the vacation periods please refer to ‘External sites’ on the voluntary work experience section on our website.
Tips to build experience:
Explore the various areas within the architectural sector before you apply for work experience; knowing what you want to specialise in will help you focus your research and ensure you gain the relevant skills.
- Get involved in relevant University or external groups or competitions, this is a good way of demonstrating your motivation and interest in this area of work.
- Speak to your tutor or other members of Faculty staff researching in the areas that interest you, as students are sometimes recruited to work on research projects over the summer.
- Be proactive and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively; send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.
- Create a LinkedIn profile to network with sector employers - see our Networking and Social Media section for further guidance.
Finding a job
There are many different areas within Architecture and work can be varied. You could work in a range of establishments and sectors, perhaps producing a set of detailed plans to restore an existing building or design a more environmentally friendly working space using CAD; either way some thought as to which area(s) you are particularly interested in, and the experience and skills required, will help you to target your job search.
The range of employers who recruit in these areas includes:
- Local or central government (employ a significant proportion of the profession)
- Private sector housing and housing associations
- Commercial and industrial organisations in areas such as retail, leisure, tourism and banking may have in-house architectural teams
- Architectural practices and construction consultancies
Below is a list of useful websites to help you start your job search
- Architecturejobs - Features vacancies for architects, CAD technicians, architectural technologists/technicians and assistants.
- bdonline.co.uk - UK magazine Building Design's online, providing news for architects. Includes information about events, people as well as a searchable jobs board.
- Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists - the qualifying body for architectural technologists and technicians. Website includes a careers and jobs section
- Riba Appointments - The Royal Institute of British Architects jobs board. Search and apply for architect and architecture jobs.
- Building4jobs.com - Building's official recruitment website. Use searchable database for current architecture vacancies.
- Career Structure - Advice and jobs for the construction industry with searchable jobs board which includes architecture vacancies.
- Local government jobs - Architectural jobs with local government.
- Creativepool - Online networking site for people working within the creative industries. Allows you to set up a personal profile with which to network online as well as listing advertised vacancies in architecture and design.
- Dexigner - online portal for designers, architects, illustrators, engineers, artists, and creatives of all kinds. Useful searchable directory listing architecture firms, studios, museums
- The Directory of Design Consultants - Directories of design practices, providing information to allow you to identify companies to target with speculative applications.
- My Purple Door jobs board - Here you will be able to find graduate jobs across different sectors and locations.
Tips for finding a job
- Keep up to date with architectural news and trends by following the professional bodies on twitter, this information might help you identify opportunities to network and tap into the hidden job market.
- Keep your on line job search flexible as some employers might use different titles to describe the same job role.
- If you are keen to focus on a specific sector within architecture check out the specialist websites for these areas for current vacancies
- Most companies have a Twitter and/or Facebook account follow practices and architects that interest you, register with them as this is often a place where new opportunities are posted and where you can keep in touch with their current activities. Join in discussions, re-tweet interesting tweets, and generally get yourself known
Follow on Twitter or Facebook to receive news and information about current projects for this specific industry sector, and to tap into the hidden jobs market.
- The Project Office
- University of Portsmouth - School of Architecture
- RIBA Appointments
- Architecture Jobs
Need more help and information?
How can Purple Door help you?
Purple Door offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:
- Career options
- Further study
- CV and Covering Letters
- Application forms
- Job search
- And more......
Please visit services for you for more details about our support and services.
Purple Door has an online Jobsboard advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Recruitment Consultancy team that delivers a personalised matching job service.
Remember if you are not on campus you can still access our services via telephone or skype booked appointments; please contact us to discuss your needs.
If you need more information why not check out some of the resources below to help you to research a sector in more depth.
Freelancers use a variety of means to generate work: some rely on their portfolio, self-promotion and a good contact network, while others use a professional agent.
- people4businessrecruitment - Useful free management tools available on this site to help you get started as a freelance worker in architecture. Also search database for current vacancies.
- dexigner - Example architecture portfolios
- Nest - is the new startup incubator in Portsmouth, exclusively for students and graduates of the University (within the last 5 years). Team provide advice and support to develop their enterprising skills and set up their own business.
- Adrem - A creative careers consultancy specialist in design and architecture recruitment.
- Bespoke - Recruitment agency specialising in architecture and design.
- Hays - Recruitment agency jobs across all civil engineering, property and construction
- Hunter Dunning - Architectural recruitment specialists providing architecture jobs for architects, technicians, and assistants at all levels across the UK
- Mustard - Specialist recruitment agency working across the design sector in the UK and Internationally
- Purpledoor - Access the link Register with Purple Door Recruitment Consultancy to sign up with the University of Portsmouth's very own on-campus graduate recruitment team.
- EdenBrown - Technical recruitment agency for jobs in architecture, interior design, building services, engineering, town planning, charities, construction, education, housing and social care.