By the year 2030, the world will need three billion new homes. What’s more, architects will have to create buildings that are ‘net zero carbon’, with sustainability, culture and people front of mind.

It’s clear that architecture is essential for improving people’s lives – both now and in the future. So how do you become an architect in Australia? The short answer is study (a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree), professional experience, an exam, and professional registration. Ready to understand that journey in detail? Let’s take a look at how you can become an architect in Australia – and the advantage studying with UNSW will give you.

Study for architectural qualifications

Depending on where you are on your learning journey, there are a number of pathways to study Architecture at UNSW. Completing our three-year Bachelor of Architectural studies is your first step to becoming a practicing architect. 

If you’re a high school student, your submission will be made up of factors like your ATAR. UNSW also offers various schemes to help you gain entry. Plus, you can boost your submission by showcasing your talent through a portfolio of your creative work.

If you’ve studied at university before but never studied architecture at the tertiary level, consider applying for the Bachelor degree first. At the postgraduate level, our 2-year Master of Architecture, coupled with our strong connections with the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA), will set you up for professional practice. There are several entry requirements for a Master of Architecture at UNSW. This includes three pathways from a Bachelor of Interior Architecture (Honours) at UNSW.

Get hands-on, practical experience

Gain practical experience to develop your skills and competencies. Here you will:

  • Design and draw initial concepts for buildings

  • Understand building codes, regulations and materials

  • Manage projects – including budgets and timelines 

  • Collaborate and communicate with clients, contractors and other professionals 

One way to get practical experience is through internships. UNSW has strong industry connections to help you apply for and be accepted to internships – both within Australia and overseas. Through our teaching staff, you’ll have access to world-class architects, including UNSW International Seidler Chairs, Mun Summ Wong and Richard Hassell, from Woha Architects, Singapore. Plus, you can grow your industry connections through your student network and the Built Environment student societies. These include the UNSW Women in Built Environment Society and the Architecture Society.

It’s important to keep your portfolio up to date, with fresh examples of your work such as site analysis, development diagrams, and technical drawings. Your portfolio helps UNSW and potential employers understand the issues your designs are solving and your decision-making process. Aside from helping you gain entry into our Bachelor and Master’s degree, your portfolio will set you up for success in gaining work through our career - a useful tool. 

Get professional registration

Now that you’ve finished your tertiary study and work experience, it’s time to apply for registration as an architectural practitioner. You’ll do this through the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia’s Architectural Practice Examination (APE). This three-part, competency-based exam is available to sit twice a year. Once you pass the APE, you can register with the relevant state Architects Registration Board and become a practicing architect. 

You might also like to consider joining a professional organisation like the AIA, a membership organisation that represents your industry and architectural practices. UNSW has strong industry ties with the AIA, helping you to further your career development, after you’ve finished your studies. 

Start your career

It’s helpful to know that UNSW students are amongst the most employable graduates (AFR 2023), in fact 82% of UNSW Built Environment graduates find full-time employment within just four months of graduating. Studying with UNSW helps you develop well-rounded education and strong industry connections, including with some of Australia’s top employers for architects such as Architectus, Neeson Murcutt + Neille, Cox Architects, CPlusC Architectural Workshop, Hassell, BVN and FJMT.

Once you register as a professional architect in Australia, you have choices. You may work for an architectural firm or as a self-employed architect, starting your own practice like our 2019 graduate Billy Maynard. You could specialise in an area like commercial architecture, heritage architecture, or humanitarian architecture. Or, you might choose to work in a related role, such as a building scientist or environmental consultant. No matter which path you decide, the world’s your oyster. 

1 QILT Survey 2019

How to change the world through architecture

Architects have a responsibility to develop sustainable, connected and inclusive places for people to inhabit. Your work may include developing life-centered, socially responsible buildings that are accessible and boost equality. 

Plus, as 37% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, you’ll be tasked with creating architectural designs that are sustainable and limit carbon emissions to ‘net zero’. Through your energy efficient, environmentally friendly designs, you’ll lead the fight against climate change. 

As your career progresses, you’ll have an opportunity to stay on top of your professional development through further study – ensuring you continue to learn and have the skills to change your profession for the better. 

Architecture FAQ's

  • It takes five years of tertiary study (3 year Bachelor and 2 year Master degree). Once this work is completed and you’ve passed your professional exams, you can apply for the Architectural Practice Examination in order to register with the state Architects Registration Board and become a practicing architect.

  • Upon graduating from the Bachelor and Master of Architecture, you need to pass the Architectural Practice Examination and then register with the Architect Registration Board. Once this is done, you are recognised as a registered architect in Australia.

  • Architects in Australia earn a median annual salary of $128,000. Over the next 5 years this profession is expected to grow by 16%.

    Source: Salary Expert, 2023

  • Check out the 2023 Bachelor of Architectural Studies fees here, and the Master of Architecture fees here. You can also apply for a scholarship. Whether you’re a domestic or international student, our range of scholarships, prizes and awards can support your journey.

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If you have any questions about studying Architecture at UNSW or how you can make your studies work for you, contact us below. We’re here to help.