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Are you thinking about becoming a Registered Architect?

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Marius Salzmann, Architecture & Design Recruiter for Cobalt shares advice and answers key questions about working as a registered Architect in New Zealand. 

How do I become a New Zealand Registered Architect and get into Architecture? Is a degree essential?

You cannot call yourself an Architect without having registration in New Zealand. The usual pathway to become registered with the New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB) is to study an architectural degree and start your career as an Architectural Graduate. In order to qualify for registration, you need to have one of the following degrees:

  • University of Auckland
  • Unitec Auckland
  • Victoria University of Wellington

If you do not hold any of the above qualifications, then you are able to undertake a Qualification and Experience Assessment. Beside the prerequisite qualifications listed, an Architectural Graduate should hold 2-3 years of work experience in the field in order to grow their project portfolio. Furthermore, applicants for registration need to show competency within New Zealand Building Codes, NZ standards, contract administration and have experience through all design stages to practice proper architecture.

What are the most important skills for a Registered Architect?  

There are six main skills that you should have and/or develop in order to be successful. It all starts with design skills to plan, visualise and develop solutions to specific problems. Drawing skills are essential to give the client an idea of the final outcome and to put the vision into detailed drawings on paper. Thirdly, maths skills come in handy. Calculations, budgets, and various different feasibility studies are going hand in hand with the drawings. You must be prepared to write reports and present your findings in various different meetings. Moreover you need to be a good communicator to discuss your ideas with clients, address problems and liaise with multiple different stakeholders. Lastly, you need to be able to manage people from the very beginning concept stage through to the final project delivery.

Who will you be working with? 
You will be working with multiple people on all levels to get a project from paper to reality; this will include your client(s), Technicians, Graduates, Interior Designers, Engineers, the Council and many more. This is where management and communication skills need to be fully exercised to produce the outcome under tight deadlines. Successful candidates must learn how to work independently when needed or in a team, manage staff and never miss deadlines or the overall picture out of their focus.

What will a Registered Architect in New Zealand earn?
As an Architectural Graduate your entry level will be around $40,000 - $45,000 per annum*. After that you can expect a gradual salary increase which grows with your experience. Remember that becoming a Registered Architect is not compulsory. Many Senior Architects are still “Graduates” as they have never done their registration – however, we see a salary increase with registration. Once registered, you can expect a salary of around $80,000 per annum. Post registration salaries with more than 15 years of experience usually rise well above the 100K mark, depending on practice, experience and performance.

What benefits should you expect?
The benefits that you can expect rely on the size of the practice. While smaller practices may ‘only’ offer a market raise base salary and bonuses, bigger practices may include: car parking, laptop, phone, health care plans, travel insurance and bonuses to name a few. Most practices mentor you towards becoming a registered Architect and pay your annual fees for the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) and NZRAB.

(*Earnings are accurate as of date posted as salary levels fluctuate over time)

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