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Working as an Architect [NOC 2151]

Job Description

Architects plan and design the construction and renovation of buildings. You can choose to specialize in a type of construction such as residential, commercial, industrial or institutional.

As an architect you do the following:

  • Consult with clients to determine style and purpose of building
  • Conceive and design buildings
  • Develop design specifications, building materials, costs, and construction schedules
  • Prepare bidding documents, participate in contract negotiations, and award construction contracts
  • Monitor activities by contractors and on construction sites to ensure compliance with specifications
  • Conduct feasibility studies and financial analyses of building projects

Source: WorkBC Career Profile, NOC 2151

Industry Overview

There are approximately 3,000 architects in British Columbia. The majority (84%) are employed in the Mainland/Southwest region of the province.

The largest architecture sector is non-residential (projects such as hospitals, schools, retail buildings, restaurants, hotels, and office buildings). The second largest sector is residential construction, especially multi-family units.

Job Outlook in BC (2019-2029)

forecasted average employment growth rate; job openings; composition of job openings

Chart from WorkBC

Work BC provides job openings in BC regions from 2019-2029:

Region Employment in 2019 Average Annual
Employment Growth
Number of Job Openings
Vancouver Island 390 0.8% 120
Lower Mainland / Southwest 3,140 1.8% 1,170
Thompson-Okanagan 140 2.1% 60
Kootenay 70 -0.5% 10

You can learn more about working as an architect in BC from:

  • Career Cruising (Profile for Architect).
    Available from the VPL Digital Library | Explore our Digital Library page

Types of Employers

Most architects work for architectural firms and building contractors, but you may also work for government agencies and real estate companies.  You may also be self-employed.


The median annual salary for architects in BC is $63,000. There is a huge range in incomes. If you work as an intern after graduation from an architecture program you generally earn between $40,000 and $60,000 a year. After completing this training period your annual salary is between $50,000 and $100,000, although some make more than this.

The highest incomes are earned by architects who are the principal architects at a firm, or who become partners in large firms. Because you are often paid by the project, a slow down in construction generally means lower earnings. Self-employed architects might make as little as $30,000 a year, while busy principal architects in large successful firms can bring in as much as $300,000 a year.
Sources: WorkBC & Career Cruising

Job Bank Canada provides hourly wages for Architects in BC regions:

low, median, high hourly salaries in BC regions

Source: Job Bank Wage Report [Search 2151]

Working Hours

Working hours vary greatly. Some architects work 7 to 8 hours a day, 5 days a week; others might work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.  If you are self-employed, your hours depend on how much business you have.

Source: Career Cruising

Skills, Education, and Experience


  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Innovative, imaginative, creative
  • Detail-oriented
  • Good spatial perception
  • Computer aided design
  • Drafting (CADD) programs

Source: WorkBC and Career Cruising (Profile for Architect)

Education and Experience

In order to work as an Architect in BC you require:

  • A post-secondary education certified by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board
  • Completion of an internship (3720 hours) under the supervision of a registered architect
  • Completion of the architect registration examination
  • Registration with the Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC)


This occupation is regulated in British Columbia.

In order to practice in B.C., you must either obtain a Certificate of Practice (licence) from the Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC), or work for a person or firm that holds a current Certificate of Practice.

More information on registration and licensing:

Internationally Trained and Accredited Architects

The Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) Program is an alternative pathway for internationally trained architects to obtain your license. The program is administered by the Canadian Architecture Certification Board (CACB).

The BEFA Program streamlines the licensing through a three-step process that includes a review of eligibility, an on-line assessment, and an interview with registered architects.

More information:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section is in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: Access at VPL locations only

Online Job Postings

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.  For architects, look for these related job titles (from NOC):

  • Architectural Standards Specialist
  • Chief Architect
  • Consulting Architect
  • Industrial and Commercial Buildings Architect
  • Residential Architect
  • Project Architect

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers who work in the architecture sector in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “architects” and click SEARCH.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume or curriculum vitae and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.
Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.
To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following pathfinders:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for architects in BC and Canada provide assistance to individuals. Registration and fees are required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. You’ll find recent editions at the Central Library:

  • ArchitectureBC / Architectural Institute of British Columbia
    Also available at the Central Library, 720.9711 A673n