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4 jobs for an architect

If our article on how to become an architect has whetted your appetite for a career in grand designs, you may be starting to think about the kinds of building you might like to design.

Architecture is a set of career paths rather than a single job, and if you’re serious about a career as an architect, it’s worth considering what interests you. Do you want to design places for people to live or work in? Or perhaps you’d like to shape the shared spaces we all use.

In this article, we explore 4 jobs for an architect – and take a quick look at related careers you could pursue.

'Want to shape the manmade environment? Check out these 4 architecture jobs'

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Before we get going, let’s take a quick look at what an architect actually is.

What is an architect?

Singapore's Supertrees light up the Gardens by the Bay

An architect is someone who designs the built environment – the manmade stuff around us, from houses and tower blocks to offices, museums, parks and gardens. They’re also involved in deciding the materials and overseeing the construction process. You can learn more in our article on how to become an architect.

Now it's time to take a look at our 4 jobs for an architect:

Residential architect

Residential architects design the buildings that people live in, such as houses, flats and apartments. Customers (“clients”) could be individuals, governments, local councils, developers, or even universities.

Residential architects work with customers to decide the “scope” of the project – that is, the space, time, budget and other constraints such as materials. They then come up with computerised scale models of their designs to show to the client. Once approved, architects create “blueprints” for the construction team and oversee the building process.

Commercial architect

The Havenhuis ("Habour House") in Antwerp, Belgium

Commercial architects design shops, shopping malls, offices, restaurants, and other commercial buildings. It’s their job to design a building which is both functional and attractive. Shoppers need to be able easily access and find their way around a shopping complex, while offices need to be sensibly laid out, and cater for different business who may choose to use them in different ways. Commercial buildings should also be inspiring places for the people using them. Like residential architects, commercial architects need to work closely with clients, who may be private companies, developers or governments.

Industrial architect

Industrial architects design buildings that serve the needs of industry – that is, the producers of goods and services. This includes warehouses, factories and power plants – nowadays there is some overlap with commercial architecture as well.

Industrial architects have to have an intimate knowledge of the process going inside the building – which could be the production (“manufacture”) of things like vehicles, electronic goods and food. Even something as seemingly simple as a warehouse needs to be laid out to efficiently accommodate the items stored there, and make it easy to get them in and out.

Landscape architecture

Crossrial Roof Garden in London is a wonderful example of

landscape architecture

Landscape architects design outdoor spaces, such as parks, gardens, neighbourhoods, campuses and public spaces – making that landscape architecture a range of career paths rather than one specific job. Garden specialists need to develop extensive knowledge of horticulture (plants, flowers and trees), while others may specialise in the conservation of historic spaces or design civic spaces such as public squares.

Landscape architects need to understand planning rules, and consider things like congestion, pollution and the impact on the environment, as well as public wellbeing.

Related careers

There are plenty of other career paths architecture graduates could pursue. While plenty of careers simply require a degree of any kind, we’ve picked out some related jobs for an architect to do:

  • Interior designers make inside spaces functional and attractive, deciding on the most suitable colour scheme, materials, furniture and fittings.
  • Urban designers make the cities and towns we live in functional, smooth-running and pleasant to be in.
  • Town planners oversee the design of new towns and villages, and influence changes (“developments”) to existing ones. They balance the needs of residents, businesses and the environment, and protect historical buildings and sites.
  • Structural engineers are responsible for making sure a building is strong and safe and that it can withstand the test of time and possible environmental threats such as hurricanes or earthquakes (not so much of an issue in the UK).

Now you know about the different jobs for an architect, find out more about careers in Construction & Property in our Career Zone.

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Image credits

Crossrail Roof Garden via Wikimedia Commons