Interested in a Career in Architecture in Ontario (2022)?

Architecture is one of the most rewarding, yet challenging careers available to Ontarians. If you or someone you know is thinking about going to school for architecture, this article will help answer some questions.

We’re going to cover the benefits of a career in architecture, common career paths, ways to set yourself apart, and at the end, we’ll give you some advice from our recent graduates (as well as our interns here at House of Three).

Is a degree in architecture worth it?
Growth and Pay

For many Ontarians, post-secondary education in architecture will be rewarding. According to Job Bank, job prospects for architects are good, receiving a perfect three-star rating. They are also forecasting an increase of 6,800 new jobs between 2019 and 2028. At the same time, architecture technologists can expect new job openings to increase from 17,100 to 38,400.

But just because there are a good number of jobs available doesn’t mean the available jobs are good. You definitely don’t want to spend years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars pursuing a career that won’t pay you back. Luckily for architects, even junior positions come with an average salary of $56,025—and there is plenty of room for salary growth too, depending on the career path, additional education, and experience.

Create a Better Future

Imagine if you could literally design a more sustainable world. Architects worldwide have that opportunity. In fact, in Canada alone, the Canada Green Building Council (CAGBC) recognizes 4,858 LEED-certified buildings. A LEED-certified building is a building that adheres to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. LEED is the premier green certification program and is recognized worldwide.

If you’re interested in becoming a green architect, the CAGBC offers courses and LEED certifications to architects and architectural technologists in Canada. There are also other programs such as Passive House CanadaEnergy Star for New Homes, and Net Zero.

Transferable Skills

An education in architecture will also provide you with skills that are transferable to other fields if you ever decide to switch. Drawing and sketching have applicability in fields like graphic design and illustration for example, and the knowledge you gain from developing floor plans and working with clients can open doors to a career in interior design. Designers enrolled in the BCIN program can also enter the world of municipal government as Building Officials.

How can I prepare for a degree in architecture?

While we’re on the topic of transferable skills, many jobs provide skills that will be directly beneficial to a career in architecture. So, if you’re looking for a part-time job while in school, or if you’re looking for a job to pay for school that will also provide transferable skills, here is a list to consider:

1. Home Depot, Lowes, Rona

Working in a specialized department like Home Depot’s Kitchen Department will provide you with hands-on experience designing kitchens.

2. Bathworks

Just like the previous entry, having hands-on experience with products and learning from customer experiences will provide you with knowledge on sizes, materials, and other recommendations that formal education may not necessarily provide.

3. Construction

Architecture and construction are inseparable. So, working on the ground, tools in hand can teach you important skills like what a header looks like, how to nail it properly, and how to follow a point load to the footing level.

Drywallers and insulators will also teach you valuable skills as the industry is placing increasingly more emphasis on things like insulation and fire separators.

4. Real Estate

You’ll learn two important skills working with a real estate office. The first is learning how to read legalese, and the second is how invaluable it is to have real estate agents as contacts. Developing a professional relationship with a real estate agent will be one of the best ways to acquire work—and your skills will be just as valuable to them as their sales skills are to you.

What types of exams should I take?

Another great way to distinguish yourself in the eyes of potential employers is to work toward certifications and licenses. And in some cases, you will need to acquire these in order to work in the industry.

1. Enroll in a Canadian Accredited Institution for Architecture

Whether you enroll in University to earn a degree as an architect, or in College to earn a diploma in the Architectural Technician or Technology program, this is a great first step!

2. Building Code Identification Number (BCIN) License

As architectural technicians and technologists, perhaps the single most important license in Ontario is your BCIN license. It is required in Ontario, and you can’t submit designs with one. Unfortunately, this license isn’t a part of many mainstream post-secondary programs. There are many different qualifications in the BCIN program, and it is administered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

George Brown offers preparation for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) exams. The first course, General Legal, will cover the key points of the Building Code Act and other pertinent legislation.

While everyone is required to pass the General Legal exam—so there’s no way around it—we also highly suggest the Small Buildings course. The reason we suggest it is because it combines both House and Small Buildings qualifications into one exam. It will also allow you to do a large number of projects.

George Brown is also sanctioned by the MMAH to provide training courses for Building Code exams. These training programs are not requirements.

The General Legal and Small Buildings exams themselves can be written through Humber College. If you can write and pass these exams, you’ll find doing your school’s Building Code coursework easy, and you’ll be much more valuable at graduation.

3. Additional Accreditation Courses

So many other courses tie into the world of architecture as well, like interior design, project management, property management, certifications in different energy efficiency programs, or even office administration. There are also certifications required to attend active construction sites like fall safety, and first aid. Each and every course will be useful!

What career paths are there for graduates of architecture?

As we mentioned before, the skills learned in an architecture program open many different doors. Let’s cover some of the most interesting career opportunities for graduates of architecture.

1. Architect

Obviously, the most common career path for graduates is to become an architect. Working in the private or public sector, you can find yourself working on projects like residential housing, commercial buildings, or even sports stadiums. There is also an opportunity for architects to work as self-employed contractors.

2. Architectural Technician/Technologist

Our office consists of architectural technicians and technologists. Our job--if we were in an architect's office--would be to develop visual assets like sketches or layouts using computer software like AutoCAD. We would also be responsible for client-facing deliverables like presentations and gathering requirements. As a BCIN-licensed firm, we still do these tasks, along with Building Code Analysis, site measures, and more.

3. Geographic Information Systems Analyst

If you’re an environmentally focused person, a career as a GIS analyst will put you in a position to make a major impact. Your job is to capture, organize, and interpret spatial data. How does this relate to architecture? Often, architects use the skills of a GIS analyst to gather and interpret land use data for communities. So having an architect’s perspective can make you attractive to architects looking for help.

4. Urban Planner

While the GIS analyst simply interprets land use data, the key focus of an urban planner is dictating how land can be used. As the name suggests, you’ll be responsible for telling people what they can build, and how and where they can build it.

Whether it’s installing new infrastructure or developing new city services, urban planners play a major role in how cities function. As an urban planner, you’ll be influencing the work architects do by influencing municipal building code.

Advice from House of Three's recent graduates

We asked recent graduates here at House of Three if there was anything they wish they had known before going to school for architecture, and if they had advice for new and prospective students.

Here’s what they said:

  • Show up to class. You won’t always learn something mind-blowing, but the small tidbits you pick up will help you the most in the future.
  • I wish I had some experience drafting on AutoCAD before starting my program. The more time you have to explore the software, the better.
  • Just enjoy the experience. Being a student goes by so quick!
  • I wish I had known how demanding the course was going to be with regard to time. Be prepared to have very little free time—especially if you are working while attending school.
  • I wish I knew more Building Code before entering the field.
  • Time management and organization is key!
  • Complete all your assignments—some marks are better than no marks.
  • Group work will help prepare you for teamwork in the field.
  • I wish I had known architecture school would be a mix of everything. Be prepared to do math, writing, and drawing equally.
  • Do lots of sketching! It will help you mentally plan your designs.

Ready to begin your new career?

We hope we've answered some of your questions, and we hope you consider a rewarding career in our field!