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Career Highlight: Architecture

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1. What do Architects do?

Architects use their creativity and practical understanding of structure and materials for the design of the human environment - mostly buildings, groups of buildings and often the spaces between the buildings. They design places and spaces that people need in order to live, play, work, learn, worship, shop, meet and eat.

These design projects range in size and complexity from small alterations for a single house to large, multi-level commercial, industrial or public buildings and building complexes or even parts of cities.

Architects learn skills that will allow them to develop concepts, plans, specifications and detailed drawings for new buildings and for restoring and conserving old ones. As an architect one may be required to discuss requirements of clients or builders and prepare a brief, prepare sketches, production drawings and detailed drawings by hand or using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) equipment, prepare specifications and contract documents, be present during building work to  observe, inspect and monitor and evaluate that the completion of projects is according to design and governing legislation.

The architect work environment  involves time spent in the office. But outside of that the architect moves around between various building sites and is in constant contact with clients and the many disciplines active in the building process.

2. What subjects do I need to take in high school?

Various institutions have specific subject requirements. However, Mathematics, Physical Science and Visual Art are recommended but not necessarily mandatory.

Amongst other things, you need a good  Imagination, The ability to organise ideas and communicate them to others, be creative (not necessarily artistic), have problem solving skills and an interest and passion  in human behaviour, our habitat and the natural environment.

3. How do I become an Architect?

The path to being an Architects is twofold. One may start their career in this field by studying a Bachelor of Science in Architecture or a National Diploma in Architecture at a university or university of technology, respectively. Both paths require a high school diploma or the equivalent  that meets the entry requirements for the degree diploma. 

The course at University is structured in two parts: the first is a three year course leading to a B Architectural Studies or B Sc (Architecture) degree, and the second is an additional two-year professional degree in Architecture which qualifies you to become an architect.A student who studies at university is able to exit university after obtaining the first three year B Architectural Studies or Building Science degree, and will be able to become a senior architectural technologist.

To study architecture at a University of Technology, a senior certificate or equivalent is required. A pass in maths and a science subject is required by some institutions. The courses in architecture are a three year National Diploma in Architecture and after an additional year of study a B Tech degree in Architecture can be obtained. This will enable a student to become an architectural technologist or senior technologist.

Graduates will then proceed to do in-service training under the supervision of a registered architect. The minimum length for this training is prescribed by each national body. Once training is complete the candidate will  write a professional practice entrance exam. Upon passing the candidate is required to register with their national body in order to become a practicing architect.

4. What are some available funding opportunities available to fund studies towards being an Architect?

There are various avenues to explore when it comes to funding your studies towards becoming an Architect.  You can obtain a bursary, sponsorship or financial aid from various sources. You can obtain funding from the government, such as NFAS - South Africa. Or you can obtain it from various private facilities, such as the bursary Masakh’iSizwe Bursary Programme - Cape Town. You can also apply for financial aid at the various aviation institutions or from banking institutions.

5. What career opportunities are there for Architects ?

There are various prospects in architecture. One may choose to work for an existing firm. Which is a path a few decide to take. There are opportunities available to join the in house professional team of a developer. Large corporations also employ architects in a variety of positions. Career opportunities exist in the public sector for suitably qualified people of the construction professions. 

Others may choose to start their own practice.

Moreover, lecturing staff at universities and universities of technology are often registered professional architects. And therefore the path of development may be a prospective one may choose to take. 

Architects may often specialise in a particular field of expertise. Such as specializing in home design, hospitals, Architecture and aviation merge in airport design. The look and feel of the world's airports has evolved over the years, as have the methods used to design them. Architects are responsible for the design of airports from the runway, taxiway, apron to the terminal building. Architects are on of the professions involved in the design of some of the world's most beautiful airport designs today.  

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