A career path into arcehitecture by Diane Cox – Woods Hardwick
Deciding on a career as early as possible means you can focus your GCSEs and ‘A’ Level choices. I decided to follow an architectural path at the age of 16 as I was interested in interior and spatial design. I chose a combination of ‘A’ levels and a HND in Architectural Technology with Building Studies.
The typical route to qualifying as an architect is a combination of a minimum five years academic study at a university together with a minimum two years practical experience working in the industry prior to taking your final qualification.
Part One – academic study
You can choose to study as an undergraduate at a Universities offering a course in Architecture. Each University will have a slightly different approach to teaching the subject with a bias towards either, Art, Technology, or Theory. It’s important that you choose what suits your interests best.
Part One – Year in industry
The next focus is to arrange a placement so you get practical experience – this is organised in the final year of your study. Don’t leave it until the last minute if you want to get the most out of this experience.
I started my placement with Woods Hardwick straight after my University term ended. I worked within our Commercial department which at that time was designing a series of supermarket extensions around the country to cope with the expansion of internet shopping. These projects were perfect for gaining practical experience covering all stages of design and construction.
During your year out you will record your experience by completing a series of three-monthly Professional Education and Development Record (PEDR) documents. It’s an advantage to record as many months experience as possible during your year out and this will also help you save for your next academic term – Part Two.
This element takes a minimum two years and builds on your previous degree together with the practical experience gained from your year out. I went back to Manchester University for my Part Two, and graduated with a BArch. I also returned to Woods Hardwick each summer which allowed me to expand my work experience.
Over this part of your academic training you are required to record a minimum 24 months of PEDR documentation, before you are able to sit your Part Three examinations. Of that, 12 months must be recorded after you have completed your Part Two qualification.
After the Part Two course many institutions offer a supplementary Masters course. I opted for this route at Manchester University and graduated with a Masters in Landscape and Urbanism which really took my knowledge a step further.
The final hurdle is becoming a fully qualified member of the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
This course runs parallel with working in the industry and it is only when you have passed your Part Three qualification that you can use the title “Architect”.
You need to choose a course run by a University or an RIBA-run course approved by the ARB to attain your Part Three.
With the practical experience you have gained, you will need to demonstrate mastery of all the RIBA Work Stages. I came back to Woods Hardwick after my MA and worked on a project that followed a traditional procurement route so these were all covered.
I took my Part Three Advanced Diploma in Professional Practice in Architecture with the RIBA North West. This comprised monthly study packs and two courses, which culminated in a three-day exam and interview. I graduated in 2010, and finally became a “Chartered Architect”.