Careers in Architecture  A career in architecture offers the opportunity to shape the built environment for generations to come. Do you have what it takes? Find out more about qualifications and career opportunities.

Careers in Architecture

This information has been prepared to give you some practical information about what architecture involves, what qualities you need to become an architect and the variety of career opportunities available after completion of a degree in architecture.

What does Architecture encompass?

Architecture brings together the arts, sciences, technology and environmental awareness. The profession of architecture encompasses everything that influences the way in which the built environment is planned, designed, made, used, and maintained.

What does an Architect do?

Architects are professionally trained designers who draw on creative design skills and broad technical knowledge to provide integrated forms for the built and natural environments. These include everything from small buildings, to large or complex buildings, or even groups of buildings,  as well as the spaces in and around them.  
The decisions architects make can have far-reaching effects.   Buildings designed today will not only impact on today's communities, but also on generations to come.  Therefore, each architect has a social responsibility to design buildings that consider the needs and enjoyment of the client, but also take into account the specifics of the  site and surrounding environment and community.
During the four typical phases of a project the architect has a variety of roles including:


The architect establishes the client's needs, expectations, project requirements and budget. This information is collated to prepare a written document called the design brief.

Design Phase

The architect analyses the design brief, site conditions, features and constraints and determines the best location and orientation. The architect begins to develop ideas through rough plans, sketches and models. These ideas are brought together into concept design drawings that satisfy all planning, aesthetic and resource management requirements.

Design Development, Documentation and Building Consent

The architect develops the technical detail for the project with the project team. Detailed drawings and specifications are prepared to enable builders to tender for the project and accurate material costings to be prepared.  Drawings are lodged to obtain local authority building consent.

Overseeing Implementation/Construction

The architect works with the builder and other project team members to ensure the project is constructed in accordance with the drawings and specifications.

Are you suited to Architecture?

The role of an architect is quite diverse, and so are the skills and personal qualities required. These include:

  • An ability to analyse and critically assess problems
  • An ability to see the big picture as well as to give attention to the smallest detail
  • An ability to communicate effectively
  • Imaginative and creative thinking skills
  • An understanding of human behaviours
  • An understanding of history, culture and environmental concerns

What skills will you develop?

Through their professional education and work experience, architects will develop:

  • A practical and technical understanding of building materials and elements, structures, construction and services
  • Co-ordination and interpersonal skills to manage a complex project team of consultants
  • Negotiation skills to resolve complex building issues
  • Lateral thinking skills to solve complex problems
  • An ability to mediate and administer a building contract fairly
  • Students interested in a career in architecture are encouraged to develop broad interests in many areas


How to become an Architect

Secondary Education

The first step is the completion of Year 12, to enable entry into a degree program in architecture. While entry to most tertiary architecture programs has no pre requisites, we suggest that you contact individual architecture schools to check if there are any pre requisites before selecting your year 11 subjects and before applying to a program.
There are a number of secondary school subject areas that can give a good background to the study of architecture. These include: art, design, graphics, computer studies, environmental studies, history, geography, physics, mathematics, communications and technology.

Tertiary Education

The next step is to enrol in an accredited architecture program. Your school Careers Advisor can help you with information on how to enrol. There are currently three accredited architecture programs offered in New Zealand Schools of Architecture. These courses vary in duration, flexibility and content. You can obtain up-to-date information directly from the Schools of Architecture about their programs and admission requirements and procedures. Shop around and find the program which best suits your interests and needs.

Post-tertiary Training and Registration

Graduates of architecture programs must complete 2-3 years of on-the-job practical work experience before they can apply to become a registered architect. Prior to registration, it is expected that graduates will learn how to competently take an architectural project  through all its phases and to have a sound knowledge of legal and contractual issues related to the practice of architecture.

Career Opportunities

Architecture offers huge scope and can lead to a wide variety of career choices. While some architects focus on residential or commercial architecture, there are many other interesting career paths available to architects. For example, architects involved in Urban Planning and Urban Design  play a pivotal role in shaping our cities and helping to develop communities.  Other opportunities include specialised  architectural projects such as schools and hospitals, or becoming involved with preservation of heritage buildings.

Opportunities include careers in;
  • Urban Planning/Urban Design
  • Property Development
  • Asset Management
  • Project Management
  • Interior Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Construction Management
  • Arbitration/Mediation
  • Facilities Management
  • Furniture Design
  • Industrial Design
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Construction Law
  • Building Conservation
  • International Aid

Contacts for the Schools of Architecture

UNITEC New Zealand

Ph: 09 815 4321 Fax: 09 815 4343

University of Auckland

Ph: 09 373 7599 Fax: 09 373 7410

Victoria University of Wellington

Ph: 04 463 6200 Fax: 04 463 6204