Architectural Technician

Architectural Technician

Become an architectural technician

Architectural technicians create constructional blueprints and compile technical information guiding construction teams and clients. 

They specialise in presenting building designs using technology and work closely with engineers and general architects. They are mainly concerned with the technical and scientific aspects of architectural design and are tasked to assist with drawings that are scientifically and technically accurate. 

Most architectural technicians focus on creating guidelines for how a building is constructed rather than designing it. They are an integral part of the design team and can choose to specialise in an area of interest such as residential, commercial, or industrial projects. 

Skills
  • Excellent mathematical knowledge 
  • Good grasp of science and technological concepts 
  • Strong understanding of buildings and construction 
  • Creativity and design 
  • Good drawing skills 
  • Strong visualisation 
  • Practical problem-solving 
  • Critical thinking 
  • To be a team player 
  • Great attention to detail 
  • Communication skills 
Qualifications

There are a number of ways you can become an architectural technician, as a minimum you will need 5 or more GCSEs grades A-C (9-4) and a minimum of 2 A Levels or BTEC equivalent.

Level 3

You can study a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma or a relevant apprenticeship.

Level 4, 5 & 6

You can study a HNC, HND, Higher or Degree Apprenticeship or a Degree.

With experience you could work towards Technician (TCIAT) membership of CIAT.

Salary

The average yearly salary is between £20,000 for starters and £48,000 for experienced architectural technicians.

The starting salary is around £20,000 to £26,000 for newly trained architectural technicians, rising to £26,000 to £35,000 for experienced ones, and senior architectural technicians earning around £35,000 to £48,000 a year.

How to become an architectural technician 

There are several ways you can become an architectural technician: through a college or university course, or an apprenticeship in the architecture or construction industry. 

College 

If you are in Year 11 or recently left school, to start your career as an architectural technician, one of the best routes is selecting a career based course such as the BTEC Extended Diploma, or a T Level. 

You can do a: 

  • BTEC Extended Diploma in Construction & the Built Environment 
  • T level in Design, Surveying, and Planning. 

The minimum requirements are: 

4 to 5 GCSEs (or equivalent), including English and mathematics, at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C)  

Higher education  

You can apply to study a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Diploma (HND) in architectural technology, or related subjects, approved by the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT). 

The minimum requirements are: 

  • 1 or 2 A levels (or equivalent) for a HND. 

You could also go to university and study a degree in architectural technology. 

Apprenticeship 

Doing an apprenticeship with an architectural practice or construction company will help you make your way into the industry. During an apprenticeship: 

  • You will be fully employed, 
  • You will be expected to work a minimum of 30 hours per week, 
  • Your time will be divided between work and college. 

The minimum requirements are: 

  • For a level 3 apprenticeship you will need 5 GCSEs (or equivalent), including English and mathematics, at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) 
  • For a level 4 apprenticeship a BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma, Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship or one/two A level (s), in a relevant subject such as maths or science 

What do architectural technicians do?

Architectural technicians support a construction project from its inception to completion, providing insightful designs and blueprints that help immensely with the idea implementation at the worksite.  

As an architectural technician, your responsibilities will include: 

  • Gathering and organising technical building information from architects, 
  • Assessing the needs of the client and coordinating with other teams on the project brief, 
  • Developing detailed designs and blueprints using computer software (CAD) and traditional drawing methods, 
  • Preparing technical information for construction work, 
  • Making 2D and 3D drawings that incorporate electrical, plumbing, heating, and ventilation systems, 
  • Making virtual 3D architectural models for the design, 
  • Offering technical advice and best practices to the project team, 
  • Assessing and interpreting technical data gathered through studies and surveys,                           
  • Preparing applications and obtaining approvals from various regulatory bodies, 
  • Ensuring all health and safety concerns are met, 
  • Contributing to risk assessments, 
  • Making project proposals and obtaining tenders, 
  • Making site visits to monitor the progress and address any challenges, 
  • Keeping up-to-date with technology and regulations, 
  • Assisting with project planning and scheduling, 
  • Determining the type and quantity of materials necessary for the project, 
  • Giving time and cost estimates to the client. 

Working hours and what to expect?

The average working week for architectural technicians is 38 - 40 hours long with the usual 9 am to 5 pm from Monday to Friday. You may be required to put in some extra evenings occasionally when nearing deadlines. 

The work is mostly office-based but you will be expected to visit clients and other team members for meetings, along with site visits to check on the project’s progress and health and safety regulations being followed. 

You may work alone or as part of a team, but in either case, you would be required to coordinate with architects, engineers, and construction workers to ensure the fulfilment of the design and its successful implementation. 

Work experience

Relevant work experience can be very useful in putting you on the right track. You could study part-time for your qualification and begin your career as an architectural technician. 

All study programme students (including BTEC & T-Level) at Leeds College of Building have a work placement as part of their course,  which can help you find a good job, or you can directly approach architectural firms to find job opportunities if you have the experience and relevant qualifications. 

Some employers may offer you a trainee position if you have: 

  • 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), and  
  • 2 A levels in subjects like mathematics, science, and technology. 
  • BTEC Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Construction & the Built Environment

Working in the field can help develop contacts and provide a variety of opportunities for new entrants to develop their networking circle and build on their knowledge of the architecture and construction industry. 

Typical employers

Architectural technicians often specialise in a certain area of expertise and are then employed in relevant industries and agencies ranging from locally-based firms to large multinationals.

Typical employers include:

  • Architectural practices 
  • Building and construction firms 
  • Property developers 
  • Town planners 
  • Housing corporations 
  • Local authorities 
  • Government agencies 

The sub-industries of architecture that you could work in are: 

  • Residential architecture: the planning and design of residential properties ranging from single-family homes to condominiums and apartment complexes. There’s more creative freedom and the work is more focused on aesthetic appeal. Depending on the scale of the project, it usually involves a smaller team of architects and consultants.
  • Commercial architecture: the planning and design of commercial properties ranging from banks to office buildings and shopping malls. The functionality and efficiency of the design are the biggest priority focusing more towards user experience and convenience. Depending on the scale of the project, it usually involves a bigger team of architects and consultants. 
  • Industrial architecture: the planning and design of industrial properties such as factories, warehouses, steel mills, and power plants with keeping in mind the functions of the structure to facilitate its processes, equipment, power generation, and other industrial activities, along with focusing on worker safety considerations. 
  • Landscape architecture: the planning and design of outdoor areas such as parks, gardens, neighbourhoods, golf courses, and public spaces. Suitable materials and greenery are selected for various climates and requirements, and the areas are beautified using background knowledge of horticulture and environmental restoration.
  • Restoration architecture: the planning and design of restorative practices for ancient structures and monuments, preserving them from the effects of time. It focuses on using the most efficient way of preserving, repairing, and maintaining them to their former glory. It requires having deep knowledge and understanding of history and deals with a lot of research and documentation.
  • Sustainable architecture: the planning and design of energy-efficient and environment-friendly buildings and structures, focusing on minimizing the negative impact of construction on the environment and incorporating sustainable materials and building techniques; something that all architects, engineers, and construction workers must start doing.
  • Urban design: the incorporation of residential, commercial, industrial, and landscape architecture at a bigger city-wide level. It involves designing cities from scratch or developing existing ones focusing on the street networks and giving the city its shape and general order. 

Professional development

Architectural technicians must undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through various courses to ensure their knowledge and skills related to the profession are up-to-date.

CPD has become an integral part of a professional career due to an increased rate of change in technology, best practices, and regulations, along with an increase in the number of specialisms. You can no longer obtain a professional qualification and then work for the next 50 years without any advancement or learning.

The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) is the lead qualifying body for architectural technicians in the country and can accredit them as professionally qualified.

You can become a chartered member of the CIAT after completing an approved course which will allow you to be at par with other professionals in the field.

On-the-job training with experienced professionals will provide you with a better and in-depth understanding of design and planning for both the office-based and on-site roles.

General business, administrative, and management skills are key components of professional development in the field, and you may develop them further by taking up courses on business, construction, and project management.

Career prospects

An architectural technician’s career generally begins with getting certified and then progressing further by choosing an area of specialisation.

You can find opportunities to develop your career according to your field of interest and the employer/industry you work for. 

There are several career paths for architectural technicians to choose from. You could progress to become an architectural technologist where you would be required to be more involved in the design and construction process.

You could specialise as a CAD technician where you would be working alongside a project designer to create a detailed visual representation of the design, or you could continue studying to become a fully qualified architect.

After gaining enough industry experience, you can pass on your knowledge and skills by training or teaching students in colleges or universities, or you can become self-employed and work in a senior management role running your own business.

 

Find the perfect career for you

There are hundreds of job roles in construction, from site work to office work or a combination of the two. Some of the many careers are listed in our careers A-Z, simply click on the letter of the career you are interested in to find out all about it.