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Becoming an Architect, By: Zoe Mills

Mar 23, 2023 02:14 PM
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In this Becoming Series we explore sought-after occupations and dissect what it truly means to become it. From study to pursuit and practice, every job is different. Below, we're exploring becoming an architect.

What is an architect, really? What do they do?

Plainly put, an architect is qualified to design, plan, and supervise the the construction of buildings, homes, and structures. Beyond the creative, designing a building is also structural (duh) so there is a scientific element to it - you need to comply with what the client wants, if designing for a client, and with the local standards, codes, laws, and regulations of the region where the build is happening to ensure compliance and safety for all involved.

What are day-to-day tasks like for an architect?

Like any occupation, the daily to-dos differ however there are fixed elements that will be consistent to your role as an architect, and they can include:

  • working on construction drawings,
  • (many meetings),
  • coordination or management of staff,
  • invoicing clients or preparing invoices for finance,
  • reviewing the work of contractors, managing employees and clients,
  • handling client expectations and communication with clients,
  • ideating and building the vision for your project (often collaboratively),
  • overseeing the site where a build is happening,
  • calculating (to scale designs and keep on budget),
  • dependent on how or where you work, finding your next project may also always be at the top of your list.

What are some examples of roles you can take on as an architect? 

  • Internship
  • Architects and Designers
  • Project manager or project architect
  • Senior architect or designer
  • Department head or senior manager
  • Mid-level junior partners
  • Senior partners

What are examples of different architecture types to consider for a career?

  • Residential architecture
  • Commercial architecture
  • Landscape architecture
  • Interior design architecture
  • Urban design architecture
  • Green design architecture
  • Industrial architecture

What do I need to study to become an architect? What degree do I need?

The majority of Architects in Canada earn a bachelor's or master's degree in architecture from an approved university or program that is approved by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB). An alternative approach to becoming an architect is to take an apprenticeship through the RAIC Syllabus Program.

To become an architect, you need to first also gain experience in addition to your education through the Internship in Architecture Program. In Canada, this program is provincially offered through the associations of architects, and you need to apply to be accepted into it. Once accepted you will need to find a mentor, someone who is a licensed architect to guide your work throughout a period, ensuring you meet the criteria to pass the Internship Architecture Program. This entire process is around three years of your time in addition to your education.

Typical skills architects require include:

  • technical design skills,
  • numeracy: mathematics, algebra, geometry,
  • adept with Computer-Aided Design (CAD), AutoCAD, Revit Architecture, SketchUp, Fusion 360, 3D printing, and associated design-focused software,
  • people skills to aid projects and sales,
  • creativity and vision,
  • strong communication skills,
  • patience,
  • understanding and knowledge of latest laws, regulations, codes for each build/region,
  • leadership skills,
  • networking skills,
  • problem-solving skills, and more!

Where do architects typically work?

Typically, architects work for architecture firms or independently.

From there, licensed architects can work for:

  • construction companies,
  • real estate developers,
  • individuals,
  • businesses,
  • schools,
  • the public sector,
  • organizations (sports, museums, art galleries),
  • retail,
  • and more.

How much do architects make per year?

Starting out, on the low end, architects make around $79,000 annually but as you build your portfolio you can gain significant rises in your salary - the average architect salary across Canada is $147,000 annually and a successful architect can make upward from $221,000 yearly.

Five of the most popular architectural styles in Canada are: 

  1. Cottage
  2. Traditional
  3. Modern
  4. Craftsman
  5. Ranch

Five top-of-mind architecture firms and small studios in Canada are:

  1. ACDF
  2. MGA, Michael Green Architecture
  3. Omar Gandhi
  4. Diamond Schmitt
  5. Atelier RZLBD