Introduction to the profession

Published on: 29 Sep 2009

Architecture practices vary in size, from a single person to hundreds of staff including project architects, office managers, business managers, directors, associates, principals and technicians. Among the biggest architectural employers in the UK are Foster & Partners, Gensler and Atkins.

The UK has a large number of famous architects, including Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield, David Adjaye and Nicholas Grimshaw, who run practices here. Many have international branches as well.

The profession is represented by the Royal Institute of British Architects, or RIBA, which has regional branches run by its members as well as a headquarters in London.

To qualify as an architect in the UK takes approximately seven years.

The title "architect" is protected and can only be used by a qualified professional registered with the Architect's Registration Board, who can prosecute for incorrect use of the title. To find out more about becoming an architect, click here.

Most architectural practices employ a wide variety of professionals other than architects, who provide support and expertise in everything from landscaping to 3D modelling, urban planning.

  • An architectural assistant will typically be a student seeking professional experience to qualify as an architect. To find out more click here.
  • An architectural technologist will usually focus on the practical application of an architect's design. A chartered architectural technologist can oversee a project, making sure that a project meets building regulations and acting as the bridge between the construction professionals and the architect. To find out more click here.
  • An architectural technician uses technology to investigate how various factors, such as building regulations, the needs of the building's user and environmental conditions, will impact on an architect's design. They will also monitor health and safety in the design. To find out more click here.
  • A Cad or 3D visualiser specialises in creating the digital images of architectural schemes that are key to winning clients and getting projects approved. To find out more click here.
  • A landscape architect creates a new environment from an open space and can provide the context for an architect's work or collaborate on projects that include large areas of open space. To find out more click here.
  • An urban designer is a loose term for a professional with a broader focus than an architect, looking at large areas of development and how they will work as places. To find out more click here.
  • An interior designer can work with or independently of the architect to dress the internal spaces of a building. To find out more click here.