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Career as Architect

Architecture is the study of learning the art and science of designing a physical structure be it buildings, communities, skyscrapers, artificial constructions etc. This work includes both ideation and designing of a structure and extends to monitoring the actual construction. The professional equipped with this study and the necessary skills is known as an architect. As Julia Morgan, a famous architect once said, “Architecture is a visual art and the buildings speak for themselves.” It is indeed true even today and it begins where engineering ends. The latest developments in this field are indoor-outdoor living, hypnotic bridges, rotating skyscrapers, natural disaster proof forts, 3D printed interiors etc. With the advancement in technology, we are already witnessing smart home technology being leveraged and put to best use. Architecture as a career option is very rewarding going forward due to the immense need of good professionals in this field.

Job Profile

Career as Architect

Architects may be involved in all phases of development, from the initial discussion to construction. Their duties demand a variety of skills e.g design, engineering, managerial and supervisory.

Creative Designing

Some architects concentrate on design work. Design involves both artistic and scientific skills, i.e. producing something which is also technically feasible. 
  • They work on a set of instructions from their clients defining the type of building required - residential, commercial or industrial or an entire housing or industrial estate and the estimated budget available.
  • The project could involve designing from the very beginning or making alterations to existing structures.
  • The ideas are discussed and approved
  • Sketches and plans with details of sizes, specifications are made and estimates of the cost of building materials are prepared.
  • Models for a more graphic presentation of a project may be prepared.
  • Designing of the interior layout of buildings
  • The work may be done by an architect alone, in a team, or with the aid of architectural technicians. This largely depends on the type of organization or firm an architect is working for and the type of contracts he undertakes.

Managerial and administrative responsibilities

  • Obtaining building permission from the local authority
  • Preparing and negotiating contracts with building contractors, civil and structural engineers and surveyors
  • Presenting drawings and estimates
  • As overall in-charge architects make regular visits to the site, checking the progress and quality of work
  • Ensuring site and materials security
  • Issuing instructions to the contractor/agent and certifying payments to contractors.
  • Discussing problems with the site manager and civil or structural engineers until the construction is complete and ready for the client's use.

Career progression of an Architect

  • Practical apprenticeship with an Architectural firm in the final year of studies.
  • After graduation - apprenticeship with an architectural firm/ agencies/ firms for managing small assignments. Learning under senior architects the technicalities involved in design.
  • After a few years of apprenticeship architects can handle small projects and make architectural plans .Architectural training helps to develop an ability to work independently.
  • Experienced and senior professionals in Architecture work on large assignments and generally have a team of junior architects, architectural assistants etc. They work as consulting managers, directing, inspecting and dealing with major technical issues, costing, legal decisions, etc. It takes 10 years or more to reach their position.

Pros and Cons of being an Architect

Pros

  • Growth Opportunities

  • International Exposure

  • Not a mundane job

  • Job Security

  • Handsome pay after some years

Cons

  • Low income initially

  • Less of duty on the ground

  • Longer working hours

  • Constant upgradations and corrections in designs as per clients’ requirement

Employment Opportunities

A typical day in the life of a professional architect is not at all easy and involves a good amount of brainstorming, but there is a little flexibility in their jobs.Their work involves responding to clients’ needs and coming out with innovative designs based on client’s requirements.

An architect is juggling between multiple projects at a time.Their work demands constant creativity on a daily basis while working on different projects and getting that done from on-paper design to actual architecture being built.Their work is both indoor and outdoor and thus is somewhat difficult in that sense as they are constantly in touch with stakeholders on ground and at the same time pitching their design and ideas to their managers and clients.

But, much of their work is inside their office premises where they do all the designing and consultation work. The work pressure is high in this profession if an architect has a decent number of projects on his plate, commensurately high are their bonuses and pay.Despite this intense pressure, the growth prospect of this profession in the country is very high.

Much of their work depends on the construction pace in a country and with India advancing at an unprecedented pace, this career option is here to stay. The good part is this job has equally good opportunities in the government space as in the private sector space, thus there are enough jobs. When it comes to compensation for an architect, the starting salary is not that humongous but after a couple of years and with experience the pay increases quickly.


The starting salary in India will be in the range of ?25,000-35,000 but after being promoted, the salary reaches ?80,000-90,000 in a few years. However, the pay also depends on the college from where you have done your B. Arch., your skills and experience. Also, doing M. Arch will increase your starting salary and future growth. By getting a B. Arch. Degree, one can go into several jobs like Architect Planner, Interior Designer, Landscape Architect, Surveyor, Construction Manager, Environment Architect, Project Architect etc.  There are many companies which go for campus hiring for entry-level jobs and lateral hiring through referrals and job portals for managerial roles. Some of the companies are CBRE, L&T, Hiranandani Group, Atkins, Hafeez Contractor, CCB, Kreative House, Sobha Group, DAAR, VConstructions to name a few. These companies hire architects in the project management and other such domains.The roles offered are quite diverse and predominantly in metro cities like Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Noida, Chandigarh, Trivandrum etc. The initial package hovers around 4-8 lakhs from a good architecture company, a design architect and urban planner get somewhere around 3-5 lakhs, a project architect and landscape architect get around 5-6 lakhs. An interior designer fresh out of college makes 4-5 lakhs with a decent company.  When it comes to specialisations, one can go towards constructions as a project architect, he also can choose to go towards interior designing, else one can opt for being a surveyor, environment and cities planning is another field which is picking pace these days. Graphic and community design are other budding fields which can be explored.

Future Growth Prospects and how to get there faster

After starting as a fresher in this profession, an architect can take up to three years to reach the mid-manager level and see a hike in this package. To reach another level up, an architect might take a few more years and some hands-on experience to start earning a lac or more per month. Now to reach that level faster, an architect needs to have one of the Top-5 or Top 10 colleges in his CV with a decent experience of working on a challenging project. The career growth also depends on external factors like the growth of the construction and real estate sector, growth of this industry and the business environment.

How do I get there?

To earn a B.Arch. (Bachelors in Architecture) degree in India, you need to have at least 50% aggregate marks in Higher Secondary (Class XII) with three subjects namely mathematics, chemistry and physics. You can also apply for B.Arch. if you have a diploma in Civil Engineering after class X with equal to or greater than 50% aggregate marks. This is the academic requirement to take the first step in your architectural journey. 

Now you have two entry exams to secure a seat for B.Arch. program from a reputed institute. The first is through NATA (National Aptitude Test in Architecture) which is a national level entrance exam and the second is through JEE Mains-JEE Advance-AAT (Architecture Aptitude Test). NATA is a 200 marks paper with three sections Maths (40 marks), Aptitude (80 marks) and Drawing (80 marks). The second route through JEE exam is for admission to the IITs where admission is done based on JEE Advance rank and AAT is merely a qualifying exam conducted by IITs. You need to have a valid score which is above the cut-off to get admission in these colleges. You need to have scored 80 out of 200 marks in NATA which is the passing percentage, weightage of this 50% in admission. The other 50% weightage is given to your class XII percentage. There is a JEE Mains-1 as well for admission into NITs and some other institutes conduct their own entrance exam as well. 

B.Arch. is a five-year Undergraduate program after which you will become an architect. For that, you need to clear exams at the end of each year to get the degree. Now to apply for a license and become a professional architect, you need to register with CoA (Council of Architecture). You may undergo a qualifying exam before getting the official license to work as an architect. 

 

What are the Top Colleges where one should be studying to become an architect?

When it comes to pursuing bachelors and masters’ degrees to become an architect, there are several good institutes in the country. These institutes have long been in existence and offer superior facilities with experienced academics. The infrastructure and quality of experiential learning in these institutes are top notch and are thus favoured by myriad architect aspirants. Some of these premier institutes are listed below:

Rank of College

Name of College, City

Program Fees (annual in Rs)

1

School of Planning & Architecture, Delhi

46,000

2

Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee

1,60,000

3

Sir J.J. College of Architecture, Mumbai

16,000

4

Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur

2,10,000

5

Faculty of Architecture Jamia Milia, Delhi

76,000

6

Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra

2,60,000

7

Faculty of Architecture, MAHE, Manipal

3,50,000

8

National Institute of Technology, Trichy

1,45,000

Books and other Study Material

Some of the books that can enhance knowledge and give better insights about architecture are mentioned as follows:

  1. Architecture: Form, Space and Order by Francis D.K. Ching

  2. Architectural Drawing by David Dernie

  3. GATE Architecture by Jinisha Jain

  4. Sun, Wind and Light: Architectural Design Strategies by G.Z. Brown

  5. Geometry of Design by Kimberly Elam

  6. The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings by Marc Kushner

What if this career does not work out for me? What are the other options for a person with these credentials?

Though this is the best career option for someone who is interested in designing an architectural wonder and here you are in the heart of things and your design is what will transform into an original building. However, if you don’t feel that this is not your thing, you can still join other professions after doing B. Arch or working as an architect for some years. These alternate professions are surveyor, estates manager, conservation officer, urban or rural planner, drafter etc. are some of the options.

Content on this page is by Career Expert
Mrs. Kum Kum Tandon
MA (Psychology), M.Ed, Diploma in Educational Psychology, Vocational Guidance & Counseling (NCERT, Delhi) | View Complete Profile
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