7 common types of architects (including duties and salaries)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Architecture is quite a broad field that involves building, planning and designing various structures. This field can also include software, highways, landscape and restoration. As these areas of architecture vary significantly, knowing and understanding the different types of architecture can help you choose a specialisation that suits you the best. In this article, we discuss what an architect is, explore seven types of architects and look at several tips that can help you decide which area of architecture to specialise in.

What is an architect?

An architect is a skilled professional who plans and designs buildings, rooms or parks. Architects play a major role in construction projects and they're trained in the science behind and the art of building design. Although an architect's primary responsibilities revolve around the artistic elements of design, they perform many tasks, including:

  • creating building designs and highly detailed drawings by using either specialist CAD applications or by hand

  • liaising with other construction professionals to determine the feasibility of potential projects

  • collaborating with project managers, building service engineers, quantity surveyors and construction managers

  • writing and presenting reports, proposals, applications and contracts

  • adapting building plans and designs, according to circumstances, and resolving problems that arise during construction

  • viewing building sites and proposed locations and attending client meetings

  • specifying the requirements of each project

Related: How to become an architect

7 common types of architects

Architecture isn't just limited to the design of physical structures. For instance, it can also include designing and building computer systems. Below is a list of seven common types of architects, including both their primary duties and national average salaries:

1. Architect

National average salary: £43,149 per year

Primary duties: There are several types of architects, including residential, industrial and conservation architects. A residential architect's primary role is to design customised houses, according to the client's requirements. They work closely with the customer to plan and design buildings with a unique identity. Residential architects also evaluate the project's expenses and outline the time frame for completing a project. Industrial architects are experts at designing buildings where functionality is the utmost priority. This includes factories, storage buildings, warehouses, power plants, production and processing plants, distribution and logistics facilities and transport hubs and terminals.

An industrial architect can translate and integrate the different machinery, processes, equipment and other requirements of the specific industry into the structure's design to create a functional building. They aim to develop a space that streamlines business operations while boosting productivity and saving space. A conservation architect specialises in the preservation and restoration of historical structures, such as museums, palaces, castles and ecclesiastical buildings. These professionals preserve the beauty of these buildings while also adding modern living functionalities.

2. Commercial architect

National average salary: £38,037 per year

Primary duties: Commercial architects plan and design high-rise buildings that define a city's skyline. These include retail shops, office towers, hotels, government centres, museums, public buildings, hospitals and other non-residential properties. Commercial architects design buildings that are functional, practical and safe for a large number of users. This means that it's vital to fully understand safety regulations, building codes and the financials involved in commercial construction when working in this role.

3. BIM modeller

National average salary: £41,020 per year

Primary duties: Building and information modellers (BIM) make models that architects use to design and plan buildings. Most BIM modellers don't hold an architectural degree, but they require the same skills as an architect. This means that it's important for these professionals to have some form of architectural certification.

4. Landscape architect

National average salary: £31,759 per year

Primary duties: Landscape architects are experts at designing and developing various outdoor spaces, including private and public gardens, building walkways, squares, lawns and orchards. They also plan and design recreational spaces, such as resorts and golf courses. It's vital for landscape architects to know about horticulture so they can determine the types of plants, trees and flowers to place in an outdoor space. Being aware of the climate and other environmental factors can also help a landscape architect to choose a suitable type of greenery for a space.

5. Interior designer

National average salary: £35,681 per year

Primary duties: Also known as an interior architect, an interior designer specialises in outlining and styling the inside of a space. This can be anything from an office or restaurant to a home or loft. Interior designers have a profound knowledge of decor, textures, hues and furniture and how they can use these elements to create a beautiful and aesthetically-pleasing space. It's vital for interior architects to work closely with clients, so they can develop interior spaces that fit the client's requirements and specifications.

6. Mechanical designer

National average salary: £37,946 per year

Primary duties: Mechanical designers create, design and develop technical drawings for mechanical devices and equipment, such as computers. They work in the mechanical engineering field and collaborate regularly with manufacturers and other professionals to develop efficient and functional mechanical layouts. Mechanical designers tend to have a background in engineering or a tech-related field.

7. Technical architect

National average salary: £74,148 per year

Primary duties: Unlike standard architects that focus on designing physical structures, technical architects specialise in developing IT systems. They create, maintain and implement IT systems for a business. Technical architects work in the software industry and play a major role in designing and managing the structure of technology systems. They have profound knowledge in IT, engineering and software. To enter this role, it's vital that you have technical skills in information technology.

Related: How to become an IT architect: a comprehensive guide

Alternative architect roles

Below are three alternative architect roles for you to consider:

Lighting architect

Lighting architects, or lighting designers, create, integrate, infuse and organise a building's lighting into a coordinated system to elevate a space and improve its lighting. They factor in aesthetics, efficiency and function to design practical, sustainable and comfortable lighting for a specific environment.

Lighting architects normally assess the amount of light required in a space, its distribution, intensity and colours before developing a plan that addresses all these factors. If you're interested in entering this field, it's essential to understand illumination and the psychological and physiological effects of light. The national average salary of a lighting architect is £29,152 per year.

Sustainable design architect

Sustainable design architects are in high demand due to increased global warming and climate change. They focus on creating eco-friendly and energy-efficient buildings to lower construction's impact on the environment. These architects know a wide range of sustainable products and materials and utilise green building practices to develop structures that meet the necessary environmental standards. It's essential for a sustainable design architect to be proficient in constructing innovative buildings that fit within the natural environment in a non-obtrusive way. The national average salary of a sustainable design architect is £58,646 per year.

Urban designer

Urban designers are architects that focus on planning and designing an area as a whole instead of an individual building. They work on significant projects, such as city planning, improving an existing district or developing a new town. Urban designers decide the location and placement of common building facilities, such as commercial shops, residential homes, bridges and other structures within a town or city. The national average salary of an urban designer is £36,038 per year.

Tips for choosing an architecture field

Below are some tips to consider that can help you decide which field of architecture is most suitable for you:

Consider your expertise and technical skills

All fields of architecture require in-depth design, maths and IT skills, but the technical skills and the expertise required vary between each field. For instance, conservative architects have a vast knowledge of historical buildings and construction, while sustainable design architects know about green building methods and practices.

To determine which field suits you the most, find out what architectural skills you have and how they can fit into the type of architecture you want to work in. If there are additional skills required, such as learning how to use design applications and software, you can then take specific courses to develop these skills.

Related: 12 essential architectural skills

Consider your individual preferences

Some forms of architecture require you to work from an office, others allow you to travel and some roles may require you to be on-site to oversee the entire project. To determine which type of architecture would suit you the most, consider your individual preferences and lifestyle. If you love being outdoors and would prefer to not just work in an office, you might find that working in a role that requires you to be on-site frequently, such as an urban designer, suits you the best.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries and the quoted websites at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Related:

  • 18 alternative careers for architects (with salaries and duties)


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