If you are interested in art, freehand-drawing, photography, and sketching – take a look. If you are good at solving problems, making things and getting a good understanding of interrelated topics within the world of construction, this could also be for you. And if you can argue your case clearly and can write clearly, this may be a consideration as well. Here is a career-choice which benefits from a good mix of A-levels and if you are naturally creative and like the idea of studying for a professional qualification, read on …

We caught up with James Burch, Associate Head of Department and Senior Lecturer at UWE, Bristol to find out more about an incredible career and some of the fantastic choice of degree courses right here on the doorstep. The subject? Architecture. Here’s what he told us …

Our Open Days at UWE Bristol’s School of Architecture include many enjoyable conversations with applicants. In these conversations I remember my own sixth form visits to Architecture schools across the country and my surprised and confused discovery that they all seemed to teach Architecture differently. With this in mind I try and help applicants understand the whole landscape of Architecture and key things they should think about such as:

Visit The Summer Shows

The approach to Architecture is very different from University to University so it is import at to look and visit the Architecture Schools you are interested in. Every School has a summer Degree Show and I would really encourage applicants to visit as many of these as they can. The Shows happen from mid-May to mid-June and visiting these will give him the best idea of what Architecture at University is about and the different approaches of different Schools*.

Part 1 RIBA/ARB Courses for the profession of ‘Architect’

In order to become a professional Architect, you are looking for courses that are Royal Institute of British Architects [RIBA] and Architect’s Registration Board [ARB] Part 1 accredited.

The Architecture training is usually three years at undergraduate – for an RIBA/ARB Part 1 degree; then a year or more out in Practice; then a two year (or three years part-time) Masters course which is RIBA/ARB Part 2 accredited; then at least one further year out in Practice before taking the professional course called the ‘Part 3’, which you take while working. So, at its quickest, it’s a 7-year training – although it can take longer than that (it took me ten years, which I have now discovered is the average time it takes to become a qualified architect). But the time period shouldn’t worry you as you are learning a complex craft and working as you learn.

Other architectural careers

There are other great architectural careers that do not require a professional ‘Architect’. ‘Architecture is a very broad church’ (as one of my old lecturers used to say) and there are many careers and expertise in Architecture and architectural thinking that do not necessarily lead to becoming a ARB/RIBA accredited architect. For example, you might take a degree as an Architectural Technologist, which could lead to a role in the detailed design and construction of buildings; or as an Interior Architectural Design, which could lead to varied careers in theatre design, curation, restoration and other design disciplines. These other degrees’ study Architecture but take it in slightly different and often very interesting directions.

A mixture of A-Levels

Architects needs to draw, make things, argue their case clearly and write clearly, which is why it is an interesting degree subject and, in my view, makes for a graduate with excellent transferable skills. So a mixture of A-levels is worth thinking about – including a good A-level in ‘writing’ (English, History, Sociology, Politics – at UWE Bristol we find that Geography is a very good one). I did History, Physics and Design & Technology at A-level. I’m certainly not saying you should do exactly the same, but that range of topics was a good preparatory grounding for the way I was required to develop my thinking at Architecture school.

You don’t necessarily need A-level Maths

Having to take A-level Maths to do Architecture is an urban myth! I didn’t do A-level Maths and the most Maths I needed in Practice and at University was GCSE-standard. However, some Architecture courses will require Maths because they are more technical courses. For example, UWE, Bristol has five undergraduate architectural courses, but only one that specifically requires A-level Maths – that one being Architecture & Environmental Engineering, which because of the engineering needs the Maths. Before you apply, check whether the courses you are interested need Maths – and ask why?

Written skills

You write a great deal as an architect and you will write at architectural school too. An architectural training includes learning to articulate your ideas and analyse buildings in word as well as drawings. It is helpful to prepare for this by including an A-level that develops you discipline as a writer.

Practice / Patience / Drawing

It will be good to start practising your drawing before you start at architectural school. Life Drawing classes as well as sketching from life is a good place to start, but do not worry: a good architectural school will support in learning to draw – and you will learn to draw as long as you keep continuously practising.

A fascinating career

Architecture is a brilliant profession because you meet people and make things. An architect works with many, many people in the making of a building and those people are from all walks of life, which is part of the fascination of the job.

And finally

Salary-wise, at the moment students completing their Part 1 will expect to earn between £18k and £22k and professional architects can earn anything between £26 to £45k on average. Some earn more, but it is a construction profession and so utterly dependent on the ebb and flow of the economic cycle.

And Architects work hard – think carefully about this one. Architectural students really do work very hard, because learning to design is a continuous, frustrating and rewarding endeavour that requires patience, stamina – and bloody-mindedness. So you have to enjoy what you’re doing as an Architecture student otherwise you can’t do it.

Thank you James. @UWEBristol

Careersnearhere.com: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started.

Check out Careersnearhere.com for open days, talks, work experience, courses and apprenticeship vacancies! Plus events such as the UWE Faculty of Environment & Technology – Degree Show 2017. Details: https://www.careersnearhere.com/inspiration/entry/6367/

And watch the video here: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/whatson/degreeshows/environmentandtechnology.aspx

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