An alternative way of becoming an architect

Posted May 4th, 2020 in Architectural Education

Architectural Education:  The RAIC Syllabus Program

Architects are often asked about how one becomes an architect.  The usual answer is that one goes to a school of architecture at a university, and there are five in Ontario, and other good possibilities in other provinces.   However, that is not the way that architects trained through most of history, and in Canada, unlike most other developed countries, it is possible to become an architect by working through a supported apprenticeship system operated by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, called RAIC Syllabus.  This is a very feasible educational alternative that should be considered by anyone contemplating a career in architecture.  

Indeed, in Niagara there are several students doing this, and some practising architects who have been through this program, so there are people to talk to.  

There are numbers of advantages in the Syllabus approach.  It is self-paced, so students can get on with their lives, marry, buy houses, have children and develop those local contacts which are so valuable in life and business.  Students are employed in architectural practices, so learn the practical aspects of creating buildings, as well as making money - thereby avoiding piling up mountains of debt.  The regional in-person studios are taught by some of the most experienced and brilliant practitioners in Canada.  They know more than just theory - they have all dealt with the reality of clients, contractors, cost control and regulations - but also have been able to design and produce wonderful buildings.  The in-person studios are supported by on-line courses that cover areas such as design theory, history of architecture, materials, structures...  

Of course, it is not easy, but training for any professional career takes commitment and hard work.  But if you are interested in buildings, the studio sessions get the student right into designing them.  

One advantage that the university-based schools do not have, is that fellow students have so many different backgrounds.  Some are experienced architectural technicians who are upgrading their skills.  There are people from other parts of the construction business - some right off the construction site.  Other students are new to the architecture world.  The fascinating part is that all can perform well.  Two other groups that come are foreign-qualified architects who are coming to Canada - who bring contrasting points of view, and, surprisingly perhaps, people who are coming as general interest students.  No-one is too old or too young to join.  

Often one hears the comment that RAIC Syllabus takes a long time, and so it does, but that is not unusual in the professions.  However, if one compares the amount of time it takes from starting to work towards a career in architecture, through to the time one becomes fully qualified as an architect, syllabus can actually be shorter, because when one has completed a more conventional degree in architecture a long intern period awaits - in Syllabus that is already done upon graduation.  

Interested in a career in architecture, or in just having fun learning about it?  More information is available at:


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