Architects plan, design and advise on the construction and alteration of buildings and other structures.
Architectural graduates usually earn
$59K-$77K per year
Architects with more than five years' experience usually earn
$82K-$143K per year
Source: Hays, 2022.
Pay for architects varies depending on experience and location. Architects in the Auckland region may earn more.
- Architectural graduates with up to five years' experience usually earn from $59,000 to $77,000 a year.
- Architects with five to ten years' experience usually earn between $82,000 and $112,000.
- Senior architects with more than ten years' experience can earn from $97,000 to $143,000.
Source: Hays, 'Salary Guide FY 21/22', 2022.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay 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 with the client
- create designs and prepare drawings for buildings
- advise clients on building procedures and costs
- apply for building and resource consents
- oversee construction projects to ensure plans, budgets and time constraints are complied with
- plan interior and exterior spaces, and landscaping
- run their own business.
Skills and knowledge
Architects need to have:
- knowledge of different styles of architecture
- strong design skills
- skill in different drawing and presentation techniques, including the ability to use computer aided design (CAD) software
- knowledge of different building methods and materials, including how various materials, such as steel and wood, perform in different situations
- an understanding of structural principles, such as Newton's laws of motion
- 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.
- usually work regular business hours, but may work longer hours to meet deadlines
- work in offices
- 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?
What do you enjoy most about being an architect?
“I enjoy the variety the job offers. There are many different facets to architecture including design, art, science, engineering, technology, heritage, law, urban design and sustainability. The building industry is always changing and there are constant opportunities for learning and professional development.
“I also enjoy working with people from different backgrounds. I find it rewarding to see my designs realised and hear my clients tell me they enjoy living or working in the buildings I design.”
What do you find most challenging about being an architect?
“The aspects of the job I enjoy can also be the most challenging! You need to keep up to date with developments in the industry such as new technology, new building methods and changes to legislation, Building Codes, and District Plans.
“The job often involves working on multiple projects at once and you need to be able to manage competing priorities and deadlines.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to become an architect?
“My advice would be to talk to people in the industry and learn as much as you can. I have found that most architects are happy to share their experiences.”
Jennie Lee is a registered architect and associate at Dalman Architects.
Architectural graduate video
Vignesh Krishnamoorthy talks about being an architectural graduate – 2.25 mins.
And the good thing about this programme is that it actually translates straight
away into 3D. So if you've ever played Sims before, um,
I heard a lot of people compare Revit to Sims - minus the people. Hi,
my name is Vignesh Krishnamoorthy and I'm an architectural graduate.
As an architectural graduate, you don't get into designing stuff,
straight away at least.
You have to kind of work up the ranks and after you gain some experience,
you get to maybe design some work early on.
Or you get to maybe design some details, which doesn't sound fun,
but it is, uh, because then you kind of get to see it in person.
When you walk through the building,
you get to look at a corner of the building and say, "Hey, look,
I've made something." So this is a concept package and we get this out to
the client. Once we've kind of come up with an idea,
you kind of start off very zoomed out,
and then you go closer and closer in until you get to the site that we're
Then the concept is where it comes out after you've done all this.
Model making is, uh,
a very good tool to use in the concept stage primarily for the client who can
kind of observe the idea from all angles.
Something that you look forward to because you get to kind of get hands on,
actually build what you're designing or what you're thinking.
Personally, I wouldn't say I have a favourite building.
I'm more interested in like the details. So something as an example here, the,
the columns here.
I quite like the idea or like the narrative behind the actual building.
Architecture is kind of the midway point between art and engineering and it kind
of serves a technical mind,
but also the creative mind. An architect is basically the facilitator between
the client and the contractor or the builder.
So you kind of have to know a little bit about a lot of things as opposed to a
lot about one thing. You don't have to have the answer,
but you need to know where to find it.
So my journey was straight after high school. I, uh, did my undergrad,
which was the Bachelor of Architectural Studies,
and then I went on straight to do my Master's,
which was Master of Architecture Professional.
Becoming an architect isn't the only pathway,
which I learned personally as well. I was in film for a bit.
You kind of just mould what you've learned into, into whatever path.
You'll find a home for what it is that you're actually interested in,
in your career.
To become a registered architect, you usually need a Bachelor of Architectural Studies and a Master's of Architecture (Professional).
You also need to be registered with the New Zealand Registered Architects Board, which requires you to complete three to five years post-graduation work experience.
- University of Auckland website - architecture programmes
- Victoria University of Wellington website - architecture programmes
- Unitec website - architecture courses
- Auckland University of Technology (AUT) website - architecture programmes
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include maths, physics, design and visual communication, digital technologies, and construction and mechanical technologies.
Architects need to be:
- accurate, with an eye for detail
- able to work well under pressure
- good at planning and organising
- strong problem solvers
- good at communicating and relationship management.
Useful experience for architects includes:
- 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 at least 140 weeks of on-the-job practical work experience of which at least 95 weeks must be post-graduation and at least 45 weeks must be spent under the direction of a registered architect in New Zealand; OR
- complete 260 weeks practical experience of which at least 215 weeks must be post-graduation and at least 85 weeks must be spent in the practice of architecture in New Zealand (for architectural work not under the supervision of a registered architect, such as working under an architectural designer).
- pass the NZRAB practical experience assessment.
Registered architects also need to undertake continuing professional development to maintain their registration.
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?
Strong demand for architects
Demand for architectural graduates has remained stable over recent years with most finding work in the industry. This demand is expected to continue at the same rate.
Growth in the number of construction and infrastructure projects in New Zealand has created a strong demand for experienced architects, especially in Auckland. There are fewer opportunities for architects in regional centres.
However, this role can be affected by economic conditions. A downturn in the economy can lower demand for architects.
According to the New Zealand Registered Architects Board, 2,035 registered architects worked in New Zealand in June 2019.
Work experience and networking important
Architectural students should gain as much work experience as they can by taking up internships and other opportunities. Having a portfolio of work increases your chances of getting a job.
It is also important to widen your networks by attending industry functions and conferences.
Most architects work for private firms
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.
- Hays, 'The FY 18/19 Hays Salary Guide: Salary and Recruitment Trends', 2018.
- Lee, J, associate/senior architect, Dalman Architecture, careers.govt.nz interview, May 2018.
- Marriage, G, senior lecturer – architecture, Victoria University of Wellington, careers.govt.nz interview, June 2018.
- Morrison, T, 'Residential building consents rise to 13-year high', New Zealand Herald, February 2018, (www.nzherald.co.nz).
- New Zealand Registered Architects Board, careers.govt.nz interview, May 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Architects may progress into management roles or to setup their own architecture firm.
Architects may specialise in:
- interior, urban, or sustainable design
- community development
- project management or planning
Last updated 5 December 2022