Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

My job explained: Architect

My job explained: ArchitectLaura Sherliker is a qualified architect working with Gilling Dod of Liverpool. Her final design project during her training was a new School of Art and Design for Liverpool John Moore's University which won first place in a competition.

How would you describe your job?

I'm part of a team of architects working on construction projects. My role is to consult with clients about the design that is required and then prepare and present design proposals to them.

Following agreement, I may then advise the client on the practicality of their project and, if agreed, prepare planning applications and finally produce detailed drawings from which costings are made. If we're tendering for a major project I assist in preparing tender applications and presentations.

What are your main responsibilities?

I have to ensure that the information I obtain and present is accurate as some projects can be very complex. For example, one of the recent major contracts on which I worked concerned the upgrading and redevelopment of facilities at the Emergency Planning College at Hawkhills for the Home Office.

The development was carried out in stages allowing the college to remain in operation during the alterations. The work had to be carefully planned with this in mind.

What hours do you work?

I work 37.5 hours a week from 8.30am to 5.00pm daily. I may have to work overtime if we are falling behind on our schedules, and if I have to make site visits or visit clients.

What is your working environment like?

Most of my work takes place in an office although some time is spent visiting clients and sites. The office is sometimes chaotic but always active and interesting, with a challenging mix of colleagues. I work with nine members of staff which includes directors, associates, architects and architectural technicians.

What special skills or qualities do you need?

To succeed you need to be hard working and driven and have good spatial awareness. Opinions matter and you must not be afraid to air them. A strong personality is a distinct asset.

Why did you choose this type of work?

I was quite artistic at school, able to draw accurately and architecture was a subject which interested me. I decided after my A levels that I'd do a degree in architecture and finally managed to complete it. During my studies, I undertook some practical work which helped to maintain my interest in what was a very demanding course.

What training have you done?

I took a year working in practice, where I received on-the-job training, between the completion of my degree and obtaining my diploma. I also took a further year in practice before finally completing my Royal Institute of British Architects' exams.

Do you use any special tools or equipment?

Like most architects I use computer-aided design (CAD) to help me prepare my architectural drawings and presentations for clients.

What do you like/dislike about your job?

Maintaining high standards of design quality is really important to me. On the downside, I dislike having to get involved with the minor details of office work which I find very time consuming.

What are the main challenges?

Working with clients and contractors who have serious budget limitations is a big challenge. Designing good architecture and keeping designs fresh and exciting needs time and resources - otherwise all buildings will look more or less alike.

How do you see your future?

I would like to gain sufficient experience to be able to work independently. This would allow me to select the jobs I undertake and follow the ideas that I have about the environment.

Laura's tips

  • Save lots of money. To train to be an architect means you are essentially at university for seven years and fees are very expensive.
  • Good artistic skills are essential.
  • Obtain general work experience in an office.

Related links