Are you a creative person who likes thinking independently? Do you find that you have an interest in functional form, be it buildings or any other types of design? Maths may not be your best subject, but you can work through things in order to achieve your goals. On top of that, do you like working on projects and with people? If this sounds like you, then perhaps consider becoming an architect.

Architects are usually highly skilled and trained professionals whose work is highly desirable. This means that it is a critical skill that South Africa’s developing economy needs. You’ll be part of the team, together with other professionals such as engineers, in creating the structures and buildings that will take us forward into the future. This is definitely a worthwhile career path that will lead you to success.

What is an Architect?

As an architect, you will create the plans for building projects. This may include creating the design for a new building, be it an office block or a home, or updating a design for renovations on any changes that needs to be made on an existing building. In order to be able to do this, you will need to have exceptional technical drawing skills combined with a thorough knowledge of construction so that you can design buildings that are safe, look good and will last into the future. Your designs also need to be functional and work well for the people who live or work in the building.

When a building collapses, which is a real disaster, many lives can be lost. It’s important that the architects and engineers work together with the construction company to make sure that the building is structurally sound and will not collapse in the future.

Once you have qualified as an architect, you may decide to keep your focus broad and be involved in a wide range of areas within architecture. This ranges from designing single rooms to complete cities. You may decide to become a specialist in areas as diverse as residential, commercial, landscape, urban or green architecture. Architects also work on interior design and some of them are even involved in designing game sites!

What do you need to study in order to become an architect?

You need a Grade NSC matric certificate or equivalent to study in this field. English, Mathematics and/or Physical Science are required subjects and Visual Arts is highly recommended. You can choose to study architecture at either a university for a degree or a university of technology for a diploma. Each institution has their own requirements for the marks needed to be a suitable candidate.

When applying for a university course, you will need at least 50% or 60% (depending on the university) for English and Mathematics (possibly Physical Science too), but you will also need to take a National Benchmark Test (NBT) to see if you are a suitable candidate. A Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) is a full-time course that takes three years to complete. After this, you will need to take a professional practise entrance exam in order to register with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP).

You can also choose to study for a Diploma in Architectural Technology at a University of Technology. This is a 3-year course after which you qualify as a Candidate Architectural Technologist with SACAP. If you complete a 2-year part-time Advanced Diploma in Architectural Technology, you will qualify as a Candidate Senior Architectural Technologist with SACAP. This allows you to do post-graduate studies to become a Professional Architect (Pr Arch).

Where can you study to become an Architect?

University of Pretoria
University of the Witwatersrand
University of Cape Town
University of the Free State
Nelson Mandela University
University of KwaZulu Natal
Cape University of Technology
Tshwane University of Technology
Durban University of Technology

Should you wish to study to become an architect, you will also be able to apply for a number of different bursaries for this qualification. This will give you a different funding model from NSFAS.

As an architect, you will be responsible for designing the living or working environment for other people. You use both science and art to create an enjoyable place for humans to be in. It is possible to build something without architectural plans but to do so is to risk an unsafe space that is not pleasant or easy to be in. Your design give humanity a sense of place and style in which to settle for a sustainable future.

This really is a rewarding field to work in. You will contribute to people’s well-being, have a worthwhile career and enjoy earning a good income. You’ll work with and for people, using your creativity and design skills to create happy homes. This is definitely a profession worth considering!