What is the Role of an Architect in Ireland?

Date: 26 Oct 2022

What do Croke Park, the Great Wall of China, and the Empire State Building have in common? They’re all the work of outstanding architects.

Whether we’re building a humble extension or a skyscraper, everyone needs to employ the services of an architect. And with an average salary of €42,996, it’s certainly worth a second look for anyone embarking on a new career.

We’re going to answer the question, what is the role of an architect? We’ll explore the skills architects need, the kinds of projects they can get involved in, and look at how much they earn in more detail.

What Is the Role of an Architect?

Ask the person in the street, “what does an architect do?”, and they’ll probably answer “designs buildings”. While that’s true, that’s often just a small part of what an architect does on a daily basis.

Some architects specialize in designing new construction projects. This includes everything from simple free-standing garages or a pair of semi-detached houses, right through to supermarkets, train stations, and shopping malls. They focus on two key elements – function and aesthetics.

Other architects mainly work in the restoration or extension of existing buildings. People who want to add a conservatory or two-story extension to their home will usually need an architect to draft plans before requesting planning consent. Also, if someone buys a property that’s included on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS), they’ll need the help of an architect before starting any work.

A Day in the Life of an Architect

For an architect, no two days are ever the same. Their daily activities vary depending on the stage of their current project. Here’s an overview of how the process typically works.

Getting Projects Off the Ground

The architect is usually the first professional a client engages with at the start of a new project.

They’ll discuss their goals, budget, and requirements. Architects are trained to ask the right questions to draw out of the client exactly what they want to achieve.

There are several pre-design services an architect will need to provide, including:

  • Helping locate appropriate sites
  • Conduct feasibility and environmental impact surveys

Planning and Gaining Approvals

They will then prepare draft plans and review these with the client. There will be plenty of back and forth in this process until a final, approved design is produced. Architect skills include guiding clients through the planning process and helping to prepare robust contracts for contractors.

During the Construction Phase

Once the project gets underway, the architect will visit the site on a regular basis. They are responsible for checking that the contractors are following the plans and answering questions along the way.

Typically, payments are released to contractors on successful completion of pre-determined phases of the project. The architect is responsible for certifying the work has been completed to standard and that payment can be released.

It’s clear that being an architect is not a typical 9-5 office job. It can involve plenty of travel to visit sites and clients. It can also involve long hours, especially when deadlines are tight.

Specialist Services Offered by Architects

Qualified architects often expand their practices by offering a range of services beyond building design. Project management is a key service that architects are well-placed to provide.

Project Management

Architects are trained to be problem solvers and to think creatively. This can make them excellent project managers. They’re used to thinking outside the box and coming up with inventive solutions that still meet the brief.

They’re also used to working collaboratively with other parties, such as contractors and clients. They have an in-depth understanding of building design and as such, are well-positioned to communicate effectively with the client and the build team.

Architects are also trained to be meticulous record keepers. This allows them to keep on top of budget management and ensure that all parties are paid promptly.

Sustainable Development

In recent decades, sustainable development has become more and more important for architects and contractors. Some architect training providers now offer specialist courses in sustainable architecture. These equip architects to:

  • Optimize building design to minimize environmental impact during construction
  • Design buildings that conserve water and energy
  • Plan to use eco-friendly building materials in construction

Architects are able to apply these principles to the renovation of existing buildings as well as new construction projects.


Before starting to work on an extension or renovation, architects need to survey buildings. This involves creating detailed plans of existing structures that are used to create new plans for extensions and alterations.

Architects are also asked to inspect properties and prepare condition reports.

Architect Skills

Architect training is rigorous and takes years to complete. A career in architecture would appeal to someone with the following skills:

  • Great customer service skills
  • Strong communicators
  • Critical and creative thinking skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Maths skills
  • Drawing ability

To become an architect in Ireland, everyone needs to ultimately become a member of the Royal Institution of Architecture in Ireland (RIAI). The road to membership starts with five years of full-time study on a degree course in architecture. After this, graduates complete two years of post-graduate training.

Finally, architects must take the Professional Practice Examination. It typically takes 7 to 9 years to qualify.

Architect Salary

Well-qualified and experienced architects can achieve salaries in excess of €100,000. But for architects who are starting out, a salary in the low €30,000s is more common.

There are lots of employment opportunities for people with architectural skills. This includes the Office of Public Works, architectural practices, and large companies, such as retailers. Specialist recruitment agencies can help architects find the perfect fit.

Experienced architects can set up their own practices, which may prove to be more lucrative than working for others.

Ready to Train as an Architect?

The answer to the question, what is the role of an architect?, has shown that it’s an exciting and rewarding career.

It stretches people to think creatively, look for solutions to tricky problems, and to work collaboratively. No two days are the same and with experience, it can yield an excellent salary.

Why not explore our vacancies today to learn more about the varied roles on offer to architects in Ireland?

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