Architecture and planning

The work of architects and planners has shaped the environment you see all around you. Architecture and planning involves working on projects that not only make a positive difference to people’s lives and the environment, but also leave a legacy for future generations.
William Hall – Level 7 Architect Apprenticeship, HLM Architects

What’s an apprenticeship in architecture and planning?

All spaces, whether residential, commercial, agricultural or leisure, have been meticulously planned and designed before being constructed. An apprenticeship offers the potential to work alongside experienced professionals on exciting projects to gain valuable hands-on experience as you complete your studies and work towards your qualification. 

Maybe you dream of being involved with the planning or design of the next landmark, eco town or sustainable building. Or perhaps it’s an aspiration to work in a global organisation, local authority or government department. It could be you’d love to own and manage your own private architectural practice. Whatever your goals, an apprenticeship in architecture and planning will open the door to a rewarding career.

Lucy Burton – Level 6 Urban Planning Apprenticeship, David Wilson Homes | University of West England

“I knew nothing about planning when I started my apprenticeship, but just a couple of years in, I’ve learned so much in my role. The university study complements it as the learning is more strategic planning on a bigger scale, which means I can be really creative with my ideas.”

Karen Mosley – Managing Director, HLM Architects

“Our social mobility initiative is bringing much needed diversity into our profession through our free and accessible apprenticeships. We want to work with schools to raise aspirations in young people and provide them with the employability skills they’ll need to begin a career in architecture.”

Facts and stats

Average salary
The average salary in the architecture and planning sector is £37,908 in the UK1.
Core skills
In architecture and planning, you’ll develop visual, planning and technical skills that will be the foundation for a creative, design-based career.
Fighting climate change
Architecture apprentices can build a career in the fight against climate change and play a pivotal role in designing and building safer, more efficient structures.
Industry growth
Over the last 40 years, the private sector has built an average of 130,000 homes a year2.
Employment
There are over 7,500 architectural practices in the UK3
Opportunities
You can choose to work at an architectural practice, or you may find an opportunity with a real estate company.

Who would suit an architecture and planning apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a great pathway into the competitive, creative and challenging industry of architecture and planning. Apprenticeships are available from intermediate level, but to achieve the qualifications needed to become a registered and accredited architect, you’ll need to complete a Level 7 apprenticeship. It’s common for people to do more than one apprenticeship to build up to the level they need.

Architecture and planning offers opportunities to work on all stages of the design or planning of homes and extensions, commercial buildings, shopping centres and sports stadiums. It can also open up the chance to be involved in projects such as inner-city regeneration or sustainable development in rural areas. 

Some typical roles in the industry include architectural assistant, construction production manager, draughtsperson, architectural technologist, quantity surveyor, architect or town planner.

Many architect firms and real estate companies appreciate the value of the real-world experience gained during an apprenticeship. Some of the larger employers include Balfour Beatty, BNP Paribas, CBRE, Colliers, Gensler and Laing O’Rourke.

If you’re ambitious, have a creative mind, strong problem-solving skills and an aptitude for art, design or model making, you may find a career in this sector is for you. A career in architecture and planning also provides the opportunity to make a positive impact in important environmental issues such as climate change.

William Hall – Level 7 Architect Apprenticeship, HLM Architects

“I went to university in Nottingham and ended up in a lecture that was talking about apprenticeships. I was immediately hooked as it suited my learning style perfectly and I was excited about working in a real-world environment. You really just need to get behind your own creativity and not be afraid to share your ideas, opinions and creations."

Brandyn Bain – Construction Built Environment Architectural Technology Apprenticeship, Denham Ben | Edinburgh Napier University

“In secondary school we started doing modelling in technology lessons and I knew from that point I wanted to do something around architecture. Seeing something you’ve designed or contributed to in the flesh is the aspect of my apprenticeship I love the most.”

Discover employers offering apprenticeships

Like the sound of an apprenticeship but not sure where to start looking? Get to know leading brands and the range of apprenticeships they offer.

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Asher Humphrey-Martin – Level 6 Architectural Technology Apprenticeship, Fleming Homes

“I work on the technical side of architectural design, essentially creating the technical drawings that will be used in the manufacturing factory to create our timber framed kit houses. They’re also used on site to actually build the houses, so I feel like I play an important role in the process.”
Pros
  • What you learn is applicable worldwide, opening up opportunities for travel.
  • You’ll be in secure employment, with many apprentices going on to permanent roles.
  • You’ll be able to see the physical results of the work you do in the real world.
Cons
  • You need to balance working and studying together.
  • It’s a competitive industry, with more applicants than roles.
  • It takes at least seven years to qualify as an architect.

Why choose an apprenticeship?

The route to becoming an architect or town planner involves least seven years of study, and apprenticeships offer the ability to earn a salary whilst working towards the academic qualifications you need.

My goal is to become a chartered planner and my apprenticeship will help me get there.

Lucy Burton, Apprentice at David Wilson Homes

As an apprentice, you’ll see first-hand the latest, ground-breaking projects. You’ll be learning on the job and observing how experienced professionals handle all stages from brief to build. This vital real-world experience will provide a solid foundation for your future career.

You’ll also receive mentoring and support as you complete your studies and gain your qualification. The support and mentoring provided by your employer during your apprenticeship will ensure you develop the wider skills needed to excel in a professional industry.

Apprenticeships are a free and accessible route to bring much needed diversity into the profession.

Karen Mosley, Employer at HLM Architects

Industry top tips

Watch our top tips on how to get into architecture and planning from Will, an apprentice at HLM Architects.

How do you start an apprenticeship in architecture and planning?