Are you an artistic dreamer who is also grounded in reality? If so, a career in architecture
may be just right for you. Architects are usually drawn to the profession because they want to create structures that are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. A career in architecture requires a great deal of commitment, but it is "doable" if you are willing to put in the time and effort it takes.
Steps Towards a Career in Architecture
In Australia, you need to have completed Year 12 in order to enter an accredited architecture degree program. Some architecture schools also require that you complete some secondary school prerequisite courses before they will consider your application. If you have not completed the prerequisite courses, all is not lost, since it may still be possible for you to articulate into architecture school after satisfactory completion of selected TAFE courses. The best way to ensure that you will be able to pursue a career in architecture is to start planning early. Contact a variety of universities and find out what their prerequisites are.
Because architects must draw on a wide range of skills in order to practise their profession, they are encouraged to take a wide variety of courses in high school. Although it is not an absolute necessity, the ability to draw and sketch is a bonus. Because architecture involves complex calculations, a solid grounding in maths and physics is recommended. An understanding of business principles is also an integral part of an architect's career.
The next step towards your career in architecture is a two year period spent in on-the-job training and experience. By the end of this period, you will be expected to have managed a project from conception to completion and also demonstrate a thorough understanding of the legal and contractual obligations and procedures related to architecture. Following successful completion of this apprenticeship, you can register to become a practising architect with the Architects Registration Board in your state or territory.
Profile of an Architectural Project
What will you do when you become a registered architect? Most architects say that their profession is a "never ending learning experience," but just as any structure has a basic framework, all architectural projects have some things in common:
- An architectural project begins with a discussion with a client. Once the parameters of the project are mutually understood, the architect presents the client with a project brief.
- Working from his brief, an architect then begins the design phase of the project. Depending on its complexity, this may go through several stages, including rough sketches, drawings and scale models. An architect may or may not personally make the drawings, but they will always need to supervise the draftsperson's work.
- These drawings and other design documents undergo further revision before being submitted to councils and other regulatory bodies for approval. The architect will be expected to liase with local authorities throughout this phase of the project, making revisions when necessary.
- When building begins, the architect will work together with the building contractor and others to ensure the project is constructed according to specifications.
- The architect's responsibilities do not end with the completion of the project. Afterwards, they will be responsible for any issues that may arise throughout the defect liability warranty period.
If you are working for a large architectural firm, you may be put in charge of one or a few steps towards project completion or you may be given responsibility for an entire project. Each project you complete will be another step towards mastery of your profession.
Many architects choose to strike out on their own after they have enough experience to feel confident in their abilities. Some prefer working alone on small scale home extensions or new residential buildings while others take on large commercial projects and supervise a team of employees. As a qualified architect, your options are limited only by your ambition, your skills and your level of commitment. A career in architecture is not an easy one to pursue, but most architects agree there is nothing they would rather do.