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Job Description: Architectural Technician.

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Architectural technicians/technologists work closely with architects and other building professionals, providing architectural design services and solutions on construction projects.

As specialists in the science of architecture, building design and construction, they negotiate and develop an architectural project and manage the process from conception through to completion. This includes architectural design management, contract management and post-construction work.

Job Description, salaries and benefits

  • Architectural technicians/technologists work closely with architects and other building professionals, providing architectural design services and solutions on construction projects.
  • They negotiate projects, assessing the needs of clients and users, and agree the project brief.
  • They may then design the project, preparing and presenting design proposals using computer-aided design (CAD) and traditional methods.
  • They may manage projects, obtaining and evaluating tenders and contracts.
  • Architectural technicians/technologists also evaluate and advise on refurbishment, repair, reuse, recycling and deconstruction of buildings.
  • An architectural technologist has a broader range of skills than a technician, and will contribute more to the design and construction process, including contract management, certification and post-construction work.

Architectural technicians and technologists usually work from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, although overtime may be necessary to meet deadlines. There is a limited amount of part-time work. Most work is based in the office, with some time spent visiting clients and sites. Site work may involve working outdoors in all weather conditions.

Salaries may range from around £15,000 to £40,000 or more.

An architectural technician/technologist should:

  • be good at freehand drawing
  • be able to visualise objects in three dimensions (3D)
  • have maths and computer skills
  • have organisation and management skills
  • be interested in the science and technology involved in building.

Most work in architectural technology practices, architecture practices or local authorities. Other employers include government agencies, housing associations, commercial companies, manufacturers and construction organisations.

Young people can either start through a technician Apprenticeship, or study for an HNC/HND or a degree before starting work. A range of construction-related subjects may be acceptable, but architectural design or architectural technology are the most relevant. Adults may be accepted on courses without the usual qualifications, or may be able to establish their careers through experience or other educational routes.

Apprentices are normally given work-based training by their employers, and study at college by day or block release. They may work towards an NVQ/SVQ or BTEC/SQA qualification. To become fully qualified, all architectural technicians/ technologists complete a professional assessment, which takes two or three years.

There are good opportunities to progress to senior jobs, with supervisory or management responsibilities. It may be possible to work on projects abroad.

 

What is the work like?

In negotiation they:

  • assess the needs of clients and users and agree the project brief
  • advise on environmental and regulatory legal requirements affecting the project
  • obtain initial approvals from the various authorities
  • produce feasibility studies and surveys
  • advise clients on buying in materials and on forms of contract.

In designing projects they:

  • prepare and present design proposals using computer-aided design (CAD) and traditional methods
  • lead the design process and co-ordinate detailed design information
  • manage and co-ordinate the design team and professional consultants
  • advise on choosing materials
  • liaise with and produce documentation for statutory and local approval authorities
  • carry out design stage risk assessments.

In managing projects they:

  • manage or co-ordinate professionals working on a project
  • obtain and evaluate tenders and contracts
  • ensure compliance with design, legal, statutory and professional requirements
  • programme work schedules and carry out inspections at various stages.

After the construction project is completed, they obtain feedback from clients and people using the building, and report on the performance of the contractors.

Architectural technicians/technologists also evaluate and advise on refurbishment, repair, reuse, recycling and deconstruction of buildings.

An architectural technologist has a broader range of skills than a technician. They contribute more to the design and construction process, including contract management, certification and post-construction work.

Starting salaries may be around £15,000 to £18,000 a year.

 

Hours and environment

Architectural technicians/technologists usually work from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, although overtime may be necessary to meet deadlines. There is a limited amount of part-time work available.

Most work is based in the office, with some time spent visiting clients and sites. Site work may involve working outdoors in all weather conditions, climbing ladders and scaffolding, and wearing boots and a safety helmet.

Some work involves travel and time away from home. A driving licence is essential.

 

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • New entrants may earn an average of £15,000 to £18,000 a year.
  • Technicians with three years' experience may earn around £20,000 to £25,000.
  • Experienced architectural technologists can earn £40,000 or more.

 

Skills and personal qualities

An architectural technician/technologist should:

  • be good at freehand drawing
  • be able to visualise objects in three dimensions (3D)
  • have computer skills
  • have mathematical skills for making technical and financial calculations
  • have organisation and management skills for leading projects
  • have a good eye for detail and design
  • have scientific ability to understand building technology
  • be aware of how buildings and spaces are used
  • be aware of the natural environment
  • have a logical and practical approach
  • be able to solve problems
  • have excellent communication skills
  • work well in a team
  • have presentation skills.

 

Interests

It is important to be interested in:

  • the scientific and technological aspects of buildings
  • environmental issues.

 

Getting in

There are currently estimated to be around 15,000 architectural technicians/technologists, of whom around 7,000 are members and students of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT).

Most of them work in architectural technology practices, architecture practices or local authorities. Other employers include government agencies, housing associations, commercial companies, manufacturers and construction organisations. Work is available throughout the UK and there are also worldwide opportunities.

CIAT includes job vacancies on its website, and from time to time sends out details of job opportunities to members in specific areas. Employment agencies specialising in the construction industry advertise vacancies, as do the trade magazines and journals such as CIAT Architectural Technology Magazine.

Entry for young people

Young people may either start through a technician Apprenticeship or other employment, or start directly in the profession after studying at university or college. Most apprentices start at 16 to 18 years.

For Apprenticeship training, the qualifications are normally four GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) usually from subjects such as English, maths, science, design technology, engineering, applied ICT and art.

Apprenticeships which may be available in England are Young Apprenticeships, Pre-Apprenticeships, Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships. To find out which one is most appropriate log onto www.apprenticeships.org.uk or contact your local Connexions Partnership.

It is important to bear in mind that pay rates for Apprenticeships do vary from area to area and between industry sectors.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For further information contact Careers Scotland www.careers-scotland.org.uk, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact COIU www.delni.gov.uk.

Some entrants study before starting work and the recommended qualifications for entry are:

  • for an architectural technician, a Higher National Certificate/Diploma (HNC/HND) in Architectural Design or Architectural Technology
  • to become an architectural technologist, an HND or degree in architectural technology that is accredited by CIAT.

Degrees in architectural technology are offered at many universities, but other relevant subjects which are acceptable include architectural engineering, building services engineering, building/construction, built environment studies, civil and structural engineering and surveying.

For an HNC/HND in Architectural Design or Architectural Technology, students usually need at least one or two A levels/two H grades and three GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications.

Students applying for degrees in architectural technology need at least two A levels/three H grades, and five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications. Entrants with a relevant HND may be accepted onto the second year of a degree course, or they can complete a one-year 'top up' course to convert the HND to a degree.

Entry for adults

There is no upper age limit for entry to architectural technology and mature applicants may be accepted for courses without the usual qualifications, particularly if they have relevant experience in the building industry and/or CAD skills. It may be possible for adults to establish their careers through experience alone or through non-standard educational routes.

 

Training

For apprentices, training is normally provided by employers in the workplace, with day release at college for BTEC/SQA or NVQ/SVQ awards. Their training usually leads to an NVQ/SVQ Level 4 in Architectural Technology or an HNC.

Many employers and clients expect architectural technicians/technologists to be members of CIAT. Associate membership (ACIAT) requires one of the following qualifications:

  • a degree in architectural technology (preferably accredited by CIAT)
  • an NVQ/SVQ Level 4 in Architectural Technology
  • a BTEC/SQA HNC/HND in Architectural Design or Architectural Technology, with a number of specified additional units
  • an alternative CIAT-approved higher-level qualification.

To become a fully-qualified architectural technician/technologist and a full member of CIAT, individuals need to complete an assessment known as the Professional and Occupational Performance Record (POP Record).

Architectural technicians need to complete a POP Record lasting one or two years. This leads to technician membership of CIAT (TCIAT).

Architectural technologists need to complete a POP Record lasting two or three years, followed by a professional assessment interview. Successful completion of these leads to chartered membership of CIAT (MCIAT).

 

Getting on

There are good opportunities for progression to senior positions, which may include more supervisory or management responsibilities.

An architectural technician may become a chartered architectural technologist with further training.

With experience, many chartered architectural technologists set up their own practices, or work in partnership with other building professionals.

Experienced architectural technologists can also work as consultants, and there are some opportunities to teach and carry out research in universities.

It is also possible to work on projects abroad.

 

Further information

 

Further reading

  • The Architectural Technology Careers Handbook - BIAT
  • TARGET 16+ Construction - GTI Specialist Publishers
  • TARGET Construction and Building Services - GTI Specialist Publishers
  • Working in building & construction - Lifeskills

 

Magazines/journals

  • AEC Magazine
  • Architects' Journal
  • Architectural Review
  • Building
  • Building Design (BD)
  • CIAT Architectural Technology Magazine
  • MCAD Magazine
  • Public Sector Building

 

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Creativepool

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