School of Architecture

How to become an architect

Do you know the difference between an architect and an architectural technologist? It’s a complex pathway to become a registered architect and there are different ways to get there.

How to become an architect Header

How do you become an architect?

Architecture is a protected occupation. In New Zealand you can’t legally call yourself an architect unless you’re registered by the New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB).

It takes five years of study and three-plus years of professional experience before you can register to be an architect.

You need a three-year Bachelor of Architectural Studies (or equivalent) and a two-year Master of Architecture (Professional) to meet the study component of registration with NZRAB.

From 2023, we will be offering the Master of Architecture (Professional) – this programme is still subject to final approval and we’ll be adding more detailed information as soon as we can.

Offered for the first time at a location in the South Island, this programme will allow you to develop advanced knowledge of complex architectural and heritage design opportunities in New Zealand. You will undertake a major research project, and explore what it takes to collaboratively create architectural works that promote ethical and sustainable approaches.

You’ll also have the opportunity to select a wide range of elective courses and do 480 hours of work experience giving you valuable industry insights and experience.

Why do you need two degrees to become an architect?

It’s the international standard now. There used to be a five-year Bachelor of Architecture that had the same outcomes as the current master’s degree. But in 1999, European education ministers signed the Bologna declaration to standardise degrees and make them compatible from country to country.

The three-year Bachelor + two-year Master tertiary pathway is now the norm in 48 countries around the world.

New Zealand got on board with this in 2007. This means our qualifications make sense internationally, which is good news when you want to study and work in another country – especially when you are in a protected occupation.

Architectural Technologist versus Interior Architect

Our Bachelor degree allows you to work towards two specialties: architectural technology and interior architecture. But what do these mean? 

Architectural Technologist

An Architectural Technologist is a design specialist with knowledge of building science, engineering and project management. They are the conduit that transfers an architect’s vision through to the reality of construction. This is a career in its own right or the first part of the required higher education component of becoming an architect. This is different to an architectural technician (draughtsperson) who works on the detailed aspects of a project

Interior Architect

An Interior Architect designs the interior of a building. They create the look, feel, experience and atmosphere of a space, while taking access, building services and systems into account. You can see their work in theatres, commercial spaces, restaurants, civic buildings, malls, and luxury homes. This is different to an interior designer who plans the colours, fabrics and furnishings for a space.

Start here: Bachelor of Architectural Studies

Start here: Bachelor of Architectural Studies

Learn to harness light, space, line, form, and function to shape the built environment.

Contact us

If you want to know more about what we offer or you would like some guidance, we’re here to help. Feel free to chat to us directly about any questions you may have.