There’s more to being a professional, regardless of the industry you’re in, than simply being passionate about the work. Therefore, it would be best if you had a thorough understanding of how to get the job done. The same goes for Architecture. Some describe architecture as the point at which science, art and design meet. And any professional architect should possess the ability to understand all three.
As a practising architect, it is expected that your designs strike a balance between functionality, safety, cost efficiency and aesthetic value. From the beginning of a project to the final stages of execution, you will be involved in every phase of the project. A sound knowledge-base is a requirement. For example, you should know the basics of the fields such as engineering, that are adjacent to architecture. Aside from a broad knowledge base, you should possess excellent communication, management and supervisory skills, especially if you’re to manage clients, juniors or assistants.
So, what does it take to become a “Professional” Architect?
The most successful careers are those that are well-thought through and planned, to a certain extent. This doesn’t mean that career decisions made on a whim won’t lead to success stories. However, planning is a part of human nature, and if you dream of being an established architect by the time you’re thirty, it’s best you start preparing in high school.
Education has much to do with becoming an architect, and ultimately, it’s a journey. There are four educational requirements in the process of becoming a professional architect; these are as follows:
1. Earning your Bachelor’s Degree
After matriculating, choose a university or private tertiary institution and enrol in their Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies, Bachelor of Science in Architecture or Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies programmes.
Most architecture degree programmes cover the history of the discipline, introduce you to the fundamentals of design and acquaint you with the properties and materials. After that, they examine proportions, interior space, structural systems, building technology and environmental systems. Typically, these programmes take five years to complete.
2. Earning your Master’s Degree
Although Bachelor’ Degree courses do exist that integrate under-grad and master’s programmes into one, it is recommended that the Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees be completed separately.
The standard master’s programme covers the theoretical, technological, historical and cultural factors, and how they interact with your design process. There is often an expectation for Architects to collaborate with the communities they work in to conserve cultures and shape the built environment around it.
Being a professional architect in today’s context means being able to implement sustainable ecological practices, preserve the history of an area, and consider urban planning as a possible area of exploration.
3. Complete an Internship
Before becoming licensed and certified, you will have to complete an internship. This is a period of training that takes place under the supervision of a professional architect.
How do you get an internship? Most architecture firms are happy to have the extra hands on-board for a month or six. Put together a portfolio document and send it out to as many companies as possible. At this point in your career, almost any opportunity is a good one.
4. Becoming Licensed and Certified
Once you’ve completed all the mandatory steps to receiving your architect’s qualifications, there’s one final step before you are considered a professional — finishing your articles to obtain your license.
All architects must have a state license before practising. To write your Professional Practice Exam, you’ll have to complete a full period of recognised practical experience; this takes a minimum of two years to complete. During this period, candidates have to submit monthly training records. In addition, they have to be registered with the SACAP (South African Council for the Architectural Profession).
The road to becoming a Professional Architect may be a long one. However, for those passionate about the industry, the years are well worth the work.