Why do young architects leave the profession

Job profile: Architects

Architects design structures and buildings. They advise building owners, submit building applications and supervise construction. Design, technical, economic, ecological and social aspects play a role in their profession. The profession of architect combines an artistic inclination with a scientific-mathematical one. Architects work independently, for construction companies, public employers or architectural offices.

Architectural activities

Architects draw designs for buildings and other structures. They show how these must be built, modernized, refurbished or maintained. They plan and supervise the construction. Architects work both outdoors and in the office, where they work with special computer programs known as CAD (computer-aided design) programs. You work intensively with civil engineers and structural engineers.

Architects have these tasks:

  • You create designs for new buildings and structures
  • advise builders
  • convert drafts into execution plans
  • plan modernizations, renovations, conversions or extensions of existing buildings
  • create feasibility studies for construction or renovation projects
  • analyze the condition and value of real estate
  • assess structural damage or deficiencies
  • prepare cost estimates
  • hire construction companies and craftsmen
  • coordinate and monitor the construction work
  • accept construction work
  • check bills
  • issue energy certificates
  • acquire orders, e.g. by participating in tenders and architectural competitions
  • negotiate with authorities and submit building applications and documents
  • create zoning and development plans

Architect skills

The job profile requires a lot of creativity, coupled with a physical understanding. Architects should have these skills:

Architect subjects

Good knowledge of mathematics and physics is extremely important for architects. They are needed to solve equations and to be able to represent designs in three dimensions. During the course they are applied in areas such as building physics, structural engineering and structural engineering. A talent in art is also an advantage, for example when making illustrations. Computer science helps in dealing with the corresponding software.

Architects framework

In their work, architects have to consider building law, technical and economic requirements on the one hand, and aesthetic, social, urban development and sometimes monument preservation conditions on the other. Air conditioning concept and building services, health and fire protection or energy saving also play a role.

advantages and disadvantages

Architects have these advantages:

  • Opportunity to act creatively and artistically (to a certain extent)
  • Good reputation in society
  • Very long-lasting result (building) of your own work

Architects have these disadvantages:

  • Economic and financial uncertainty in the event of a poor order situation
  • Limitation of your own imagination due to special customer requests
  • Very great responsibility with possibly fatal consequences (in the case of structural problems in the building)

Architect salary

According to the Federal Chamber of Architects, the average gross annual salary of full-time employed chamber members including all additional cash benefits and overtime payments is 58,976 euros per year (as of 2019).

Salary by employer:

Architects earn the most in the commercial sector with an average gross of 75,000 euros, followed by civil servants (64,412 euros). At the very bottom of the ranking are the employees in architecture and urban planning offices (50,400 euros). When they start their careers, they earn a median gross of 43,000 euros, with more than 20 years of professional experience their salary increases to around 60,000 euros. In addition, their salaries have risen the most in recent years.

Salary by region:

According to the Federal Employment Agency's remuneration atlas, architects earn around 4,100 euros gross per month on average. The salary range is roughly between 3,200 euros and 5,400 euros gross per month. According to this, architects earn the most in Rhineland-Palatinate and Schleswig-Holstein (each around 4,500 euros) and least in Saxony (around 3,200 euros).

Salary of self-employed:

Self-employed architects have an average gross salary of 45,000 euros per year. The salary of the self-employed can also be far below or above in individual cases.

In general, the salary of architects depends on factors such as industry, region, size of the employer, professional experience, reputation and references.

Become an architect

The prerequisite for the profession of architect is a university degree in architecture from a university or technical college. Anyone who has two years of professional experience after completing their studies (for example as a Internship architect), can be officially registered as an architect with the Chamber of Architects in his federal state. The specific requirements vary from state to state. Some chambers of architects do not accept the bachelor's degree as a professional qualification. As a consequence, graduates are not allowed to use the professional title of architect despite relevant training.

This is more than just a blemish!

Only the professional title of architect authorizes the submission of a building application. If you are thinking of starting your own business after completing your degree, you should read the architects' law of your state in advance to find out which academic degree you can use for the job title. On the other hand, in certain cases, proof of two years of practical experience and professional training may be omitted in order to be accepted into the Chamber of Architects.

Architecture studies

You can become an architect with a degree in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture or urban planning. It takes at least ten semesters for graduates to complete their bachelor's and master's degrees. Some universities also include a practical semester in their curriculum during this time. The study of architecture is very practice-oriented. Budding architects learn at an early stage how they can actually implement construction projects. Here, two core competencies are trained above all: the feasibility and creativity of a design.

Study content

These basics are taught in architecture studies:

  • Building physics
  • Structural analysis
  • Building materials science
  • Construction chemistry
  • Structural engineering
  • Sanitary engineering
  • Heating technology
  • Electrical engineering
  • Concrete construction
  • Timber construction
  • steel construction

These in-depth seminars and content are available in architecture studies:

  • Construction management
  • Construction management
  • Construction planning
  • Building law
  • Building science
  • Representation technique
  • Building construction
  • Design
  • History of architecture and art

Architects job market

According to the Federal Chamber of Architects, there are around 140,000 architects in Germany (as of January 1, 2020). In addition to building construction architects, this also includes landscape architects, interior designers and urban planners. Around 56,000 of them are freelance workers. The competition for positions, orders and tenders is fierce.

Architects find employment with these employers:

  • Architectural and engineering offices
  • public service (for example in building management)
  • Construction company
  • Real estate companies and housing associations

Chamber of Architects costs

Membership in a Chamber of Architects costs money. The amount of the membership fees in the 16 chambers of architects of the federal states is based on:

  • Income (lower contributions for low income)
  • Employment relationship (employed, civil servant, free or retired)
  • federal state

For freelance architects, the membership fee is roughly between 100 and 2,500 euros per year. For salaried and civil servant architects, it is roughly between 100 and 500 euros. Retirees pay between 50 and 250 euros annually.

Architects further education

The architecture is constantly changing. New topics and requirements are constantly emerging, for example in terms of energy consumption and sustainability. Permanent further training is therefore essential for the profession. There is also a range of specialist training courses and specializations for architects with which they can deepen their knowledge and skills.

Adaptation training courses are available on the following topics:

  • Building surveyors
  • Monument protection
  • Construction management
  • Landscape architecture

Architects career opportunities

Specializations, like a master’s degree, pave the way to a management or specialist career. It is also important for prospective managers to acquire these skills:

  • Communicative skills
  • Leadership
  • Project management

Then hardly anything stands in the way of a career as an architect - except maybe some rubble.

Architect application

When designing their application documents, architects generally have room for creativity. Otherwise, the same applies to other applications:

The 25 most important technical terms for architects: Glossary Architect [PDF]

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