What Can You Do With an Architecture Degree?
If you’ve studied an architecture degree, you’ll have developed a range of very desirable creative, visual, practical and design-based skills to offer employers. Although most architecture graduates will be looking to becoming chartered architects to practice professionally, there are plenty of other options for you to consider.
Read on for a look at a variety of possible architecture careers, and how to increase your employability in these roles.
Starting off with the most obvious architecture career, a role as a fully qualified architect is likely to be challenging, fascinating and inspirational – putting you at the forefront of new technology to improve people’s lives while exercising your creativity. As an architect, you’ll work closely with clients and users to design new buildings or complete extensions or alterations to existing ones, ensuring that they are safe, cost-effective and functional.
Architecture careers are more diverse than you might think, including:
- Building architecture – designing new buildings, or adapting existing ones.
- Landscape architecture – planning, designing and managing open spaces, including both natural and urban areas.
- Naval architecture – the architecture of ships and marine vessels.
Typical responsibilities of architects include supervising the construction process, resolving any planning issues, managing the environmental impact of projects, consulting other design professionals and sticking to financial budgets.
To become an architect, you’ll typically need to have completed a degree accredited by a statutory body such as the UK’s Architects Registration Board (ARB). Having prior experience in an architectural, design or construction environment is very useful and desirable to employers, and you should try to keep up to date with the latest trends in architecture and design. You should also try and make contacts in the industry, which can be gained from work experience, university departments or by joining a professional body in architecture.
Also referred to as architectural technicians, in this architecture career you’ll use your science and engineering skills and knowledge to create tough, resilient and sustainable constructions and refurbishments. Using both computer-aided design (CAD) and traditional drawing techniques, you’ll prepare and present design proposals and advise clients on technical matters. Again, work experience is extremely useful when applying for jobs in this area, and will enable you to build your understanding of how architecture projects are handled.
Interior and spatial designer
Interior and spatial designers design or renovate internal spaces, fixtures and fittings, using their architectural, creative design and project management skills to ensure that spaces are both attractive and efficient (although some designers will focus exclusively on the appearance rather than the structure of interior spaces). You might work in a variety of commercial, domestic or leisure settings, in every case understanding the needs of your client while obtaining materials and products and keeping to budgets.
Concerned with conserving, modifying, fixing, renovating and restoring existing buildings, a role as a building surveyor would suit you if you enjoy problem solving and have a strong interest in the design and construction of buildings. Building surveyors are also often involved with taking precautionary measures to keep buildings in good condition, as well as to make them more sustainable. Again, pre-entry work experience is highly recommended, giving you insight into how ideas are adapted in the real world, and perhaps even leading to paid jobs through the contacts you’d make.
Graduates with an interest in development, regeneration and sustainability might be interested in a career as a town planner, in which you’ll manage and develop the countryside, towns, cities and villages. Working on behalf of everyone in the area and alongside other professionals such as architects, you will aim to balance the conflicting needs of the local environment, population and economy and think of innovative, sustainable solutions for developments. To become a town planner, you’ll need strong multitasking skills, commercial awareness, attention to detail, and be confident in listening to and negotiating with a diverse range of people.
Continuing our look at what you can you with an architecture degree, a role as a production designer on the set of films, television programs and theater shows would be ideal for graduates with an interest in the entertainment industry. As a production designer, you’ll work closely with the producer and director and use your creative flair to develop a complete visual outline for the production they’re working on. Some production designers are entirely focused on theater and stage design, or there could be an overlap between media forms. This is not an entry-level role, so you’ll need to work your way up, for example starting as a runner in the film industry. You could also get involved with student theater groups and internships.
Historic buildings inspector
Also known as conservation officers, historic building inspectors work to promote the conservation of the historic environment and help to protect and enhance buildings with historical, architectural or cultural significance. In this role you’ll visit historic sites to inspect and survey them, advise on the best preservation methods, and take part in regeneration projects to benefit the community, economy or environment. Although it’s not essential, a postgraduate degree can be very beneficial for increasing your prospects in this specialist, competitive field. You’ll need to demonstrate a strong interest in (and knowledge of) historic architecture and the relevant legislation in buildings and conservation.
Like architects, structural engineers are creative innovators, using maths and science to plan, design and oversee structures which will withstand the pressures of human and environmental wear and tear. As a structural engineer you’ll work in partnership with other engineers and architects to design aesthetically pleasing and safe structures, and will be responsible for choosing the right materials to meet design specifications. You might also be involved in examining existing buildings to ensure that they are structurally secure and up to standard. To become a chartered structural engineer, you will most likely need a postgraduate degree, depending on the typical entry requirements in your country.
‘What Can You Do With an Architecture Degree?’ is part of our ‘What Can You Do With…’ series.
We have also covered art, biology, business, communications, computer science, English, engineering, fashion, history, geography, law, marketing, mathematics, performing arts, philosophy, politics, psychology, sociology, chemistry, economics and physics.
Want more content like this? Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.
This article was originally published in January 2017 . It was last updated in May 2023