This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Architects plan, design and advise on the construction and alteration of buildings. They also arrange building contracts.
Architectural graduates usually earn
$40K-$80K per year
Principal architects usually earn
$60K-$120K per year
Source: Hays Salary Guide, 2014.
Pay for architects varies depending on where they work, and how much experience they have. Architects in the Auckland region tend to earn from $5,000 to $20,000 more than architects in other parts of New Zealand.
- New architectural graduates earn between $40,000 and $60,000 a year.
- Registered architects can expect to earn between $60,000 and $85,000.
- Principal architects with five or more years' experience earn between $60,000 and $120,000.
Self-employed architects may earn more than this.
Source: Hays Recruitment, 'The 2014 Hays Salary Guide', 2014.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Architects may do some or all of the following:
- analyse clients' requirements and do a site inspection
- discuss design ideas, local authority requirements and constraints with the client
- create designs and prepare drawings for houses and other buildings
- specify materials to be used
- advise clients on building procedures and costs
- apply for building and resource consents
- oversee construction projects to ensure plans, budgets and time constraints have been complied with
- plan interior and exterior spaces, and landscaping
- run their own businesses.
Skills and knowledge
Architects need to have:
- knowledge of different styles of architecture
- knowledge of relevant legislation, including the New Zealand Building Code, the New Zealand Building Act, the Resource Management Act and local by-laws, consent procedures, and planning regulations
- knowledge of building methods and materials, including how various materials, such as steel and wood, perform in different situations
- an ability to visualise buildings and spaces (to translate clients' ideas into reality)
- design and artistic skills, including knowledge of colour theory and texture
- skill in different drawing and presentation techniques.
- usually work regular business hours, but may work longer hours to meet deadlines
- work in offices and at building sites
- may travel locally to visit construction sites or clients, and nationally or overseas to work on projects or attend conferences and workshops.
What's the job really like?
Sarosh Mulla - Architectural Graduate and Designer
When did you realise you wanted to be an architect?
"I knew from quite an early age that I wanted to do something that involved drawing and making things. My parents come from art and science backgrounds, so architecture was always an option.
"Once I started designing in high school, I knew that architecture was right for me. Most people don’t get into architecture for the money – there are other professions that earn more for less time put in. Architecture is usually pursued because you enjoy it."
What kinds of projects are you working on now?
"I’m currently working on a few commercial alterations and a residential alteration. The design and building process is reasonably long, so the type of work that you do on a project changes over time.
"There is a lot of technical CAD [computer-aided design] to do for building consents. These are generally drawings that show how the building is to be constructed. But there is also some writing, model making, and computer rendering. You will spend most days in the office, but will also get to go out on building sites during the construction phase.
"It's a really fun and varied job."
Derek Kawiti talks about working as an architect - 2.03 mins. (Video courtesy of Te Puni Kokiri - for more videos go to www.maorifuturemakers.com)
I was actually interested in photography more than architecture to start with, through my mother, a photographer for a small newspaper in Northland, and I use to help her do all the negatives and all the photo printing, we turned our bathroom into a dark room and stuff, and that’s pretty much what sort of started me off because I just liked images especially black and whites and sort of being able to capture people and then being able to after a few years to go back and sort of see those frozen moments and just an interest in art as well. Going to places like cities and being totally over awed and those sort of things just affect you and just seeing big buildings especially new buildings as soon as they were built and just being really fascinated with those.
I did a Bachelor of Architecture Degree here at Auckland University. I got my Masters at the Architectural Association in London and that’s kinda what changed the way I was thinking about architecture; I guess I knew I was always going to be one, but it was a matter of it coming along and me sort of finding it, running into it kind of thing. If you’re a real tutu, it’s actually really, it’s fascinating, it’s exciting. You get to take things apart, you get to analyse things in a, at lots of different levels. And it’s not really about how what your marks were like in School C or... it’s really about how you look at things, how you analyse and you can bring your own viewpoint to it. So, it’s really, it’s pretty cool like that.
In the last 10 or 15 years the whole train of thought in architecture has gone towards people realising that every sort of bit of matter on this planet is alive; it has a... it changes, it transforms and this environment is by no way stable and similar with materials, they morph, they decay and all of those things and western science for so long has sort of preached that we as humans kind of need to master it and not really taking into account that it has its own energy, and has its own kind of mauri if you like. And it’s only through technology that we’re sort of, we’re leading towards this. Now the tupunas knew this kind of thing to start with.
- To become a registered architect, you need a Master of Architecture (Professional).
After graduating, you need to complete at least 140 weeks of on-the-job practical work experience before you can apply to become a registered architect. This usually takes three to five years.
In some circumstances, people who have a Master of Architecture (Professional) and extensive design experience in the building sector can apply to become registered.
- University of Auckland - information on architecture programmes
- Victoria University of Wellington website - information on architecture programmes
- Unitec website - information on architecture courses
To enter tertiary training a university entrance qualification (NCEA Level 3) is required.
Useful subjects include physics, art, graphics, computer studies, environmental studies, history, geography, calculus and maths.
Architects need to be:
- accurate, with an eye for detail
- able to work well under pressure
- knowledgeable about maths and physics
- good at planning and organising
- good at communicating.
Useful experience for architects includes design, draughting, building and engineering work.
Architects must be registered with the New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB). The board usually requires applicants to:
- hold an architecture qualification recognised by the NZRAB
- complete 140 weeks of practical experience (95 of which must be completed after graduating)
- pass the NZRAB practical experience assessment.
Registered architects also need to undertake continuing professional development to maintain their registration.
- New Zealand Registered Architects Board website - how to become a registered architect
- New Zealand Registered Architects Board website - pathways to becoming a registered architect (PDF - 60KB)
Find out more about training
- New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA)
- (09) 623 6080 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nzia.co.nz/
- New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB)
- (04) 471 1336 - email@example.com - www.nzrab.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Canterbury rebuild demand for architects has peaked
While the Canterbury rebuild has created strong demand for architects over recent years, this is expected to start levelling off. The amount (in value) of building work in the region remained high throughout 2015, but the number of new building consents issued has declined since 2014.
Demand high in Auckland
The amount of work for architects in Auckland has continued to increase, driven by a housing shortage. In September 2015 the number of consents in Auckland was the highest it's been in over 10 years.
Private firms the biggest employers of architects
Most architects work for small to medium-sized private practices, or for themselves. There are also opportunities to work for:
- construction consultancies (organisations that employ experts from different disciplines such as architecture, engineering and interior design)
- property development companies
- universities, as lecturers.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Jobs Online Monthly Report: June 2015', July 2015, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Statistics New Zealand, 'Building Consents Issued: October 2015', 30 November 2015, (www.stats.govt.nz).
- Statistics New Zealand, 'Value of Building Work Put in Place: September 2015', 3 December 2015, (www.stats.govt.nz).
Progression and specialisations
For architectural graduates who join private practices, career paths vary depending on the size and structure of the organisation. Architects may move into specialist areas such as:
- interior, urban, or sustainable design
- community development
- project management or planning.
In the public sector architects may work in design, management or policy roles.
Last updated 15 February 2018