What Skills Do You Need as An Architect / Student of Architecture | SAS Podcast 7

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Hey! My name’s Kyle.

From a sample of 25,000 students that applied to enter architecture school:
15.30% of them were accepted.
8.50% of them made it through to the second half of their education.
2.04% of them were awarded a degree in Architecture (post-graduate)
0.78% of them ended up working a job in architecture.

Successful Archi Student is a platform for architecture students to learn off one another to become the LESS THAN 1% of students who end up being successful in the profession.

On the podcast, you’ll hear from practicing architects, other successful students and myself, Kyle, a third year architecture student from South Australia.

Doing so, you’ll learn the tips and tricks to excel past the rest of your cohort and build the skills needed to take your work to another level.

On today’s episode, I compare the traditional skills you need (or may not need) to study architecture with some skills I think will really take your abilities to a whole new level. A lot of students ask me if they have had to learn mathematics, chemistry, physics, art or computer skills to be able to study architecture. In this episode, I hopefully clear up some misconceptions that students might have.

Specifically, I’ll talk about:

  • Do you need to be good at math to study architecture?
  • Do you need to be good at science to study architecture?
  • Do you need to be good at art or hand drawing to study architecture?
  • Do you need to be good at technology / IT / CAD to study architecture?
  • What skills are actually important to learn to succeed in architecture or architecture school?
  • Management of time, budget and people
  • Communication/social/people skills

I hope you enjoy the show! Feel free to discuss anything in the comments below. I try to respond to every comment 🙂

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This is the Successful Archi Student’s podcast episode seven.

Hello guys and gals, welcome to today’s show. In this episode I’m going to be talking about some of the skills you need as an architect or as an architecture student.

I’ve been getting asked a lot of questions about whether you need these certain skills to be able to do well in architecture or to be able to study architecture. And hopefully with this episode, I can clear up some of those misconceptions about what skills you actually need as an architecture student.


So recently, I’ve been getting asked a lot of questions of, “should I be good at art and drawing to be able to do architecture? Should I have good math skills and be good at physics and science or do I need to be really good at computer skills and technology”, and, traditionally these are the skills you need as an architecture student.

To be good at math, to be good at physics or science, to have good hand drawing skills and art skills, and to have some knowledge in computer and technology. However, with this episode, I want to debunk these kind of misconceptions that these skills are necessary to be able to do well in architecture or to be able to study architecture.


A lot of the time there are people that asked me these questions of Do I need to be good at math? Do I need to be good at science to be able to study architecture and not to be rude here, but most the time when they asked me this question, it’s kind of just a way of pushing the decision on to someone else, rather than doing some thinking for themselves. Because yes, traditionally, having math skills and science skills apparently are required of architecture students. And so they’ll ask this question if they’re not sufficiently good at those subjects, hoping that someone else will decide for them whether they should pursue their career in architecture, but if you actually stopped to think about why you would need these skills, then it really allows you to analyse your own position and consider whether is really for you or not.

So, what I mean by this is to break it down, what would you actually use maths for? And in the two years that I’ve been doing architecture, there hasn’t been a lot of direct mathematics, and formulas and stuff like that, that I’ve had to do during high school. I always thought I had to do the highest level maths to be able to do well at architecture. I had to learn calculus and Pythagoras theorem and all these other formulas because they’re going to help me become a better architecture student. But in reality, I feel like this is one of the biggest misconceptions about architecture school.

I am not not recommending you to study math during high school. I actually think it’s a great idea, but not for the idea that you think of learning these formulas that you can use to design buildings. The reason why I recommend studying maths or doing a course on maths during high school or after high school is for the skills that it gives you in problem solving. I don’t know if it’s just me but being an architecture student, you’ve got tons of problems. Being able to solve those problems is key to be able to do well in architecture, having the ability of coming across a problem and create a thoughtful solution for it is definitely going to help you during your architecture studies. Of course, having basic math skills is also going to help you in architecture. Being able to add and subtract and all of these different things. But for the people that asked me if you need to do a high level mathematics course, I don’t think it’s necessary. I think the idea of having good problem solving skills and analytical skills are really going to help you during architecture school and as being an architect and obviously doing higher level maths and more challenging and are going to make you better at problem solving and better at challenging yourself, which I also encourage.

That leads me to say that not having these mathematical skills where it makes you less of an architect, you can still be a very successful architect without having these basic mathematical skills or calculus and trigonometry. But having the skills can only make you better.


I often had people ask me “Do you need to know chemistry or physics to be able to do well in architecture school?”. Chemistry is definitely not necessary. However, it’s that same idea of problem solving skills and going through formulas, which really helps you identify problems and solve them using in depth thinking, which really unlocks your brain to the potential it has.


I’d just like to add that in Australia, there are no prerequisites to be able to study architecture. In University. What this means is that you don’t need to have any previous experience skills or knowledge in any field to be able to study architecture. So what the universities are expecting is that you know nothing and you start that you know, nothing. And what this does for you is that it allows you to gain these skills along the way. So obviously, having these skills from the start is only going to make you better, but not having those skills is not going to make you any worse of an architecture student or an architect.


Physics has that problem solving component to it. But I also think that physics is good because it helps you understand kind of general knowledge and common sense principles and rules that occur in the world. And so when you’re in the decision of whether you should design something with a cantilever of three meters, or whether it should only be two meters, it helps you just understand whether something would be able to stand up or not. And so I’d also recommend maybe doing a basic physics course. However, it is not necessary at all to be able to do well in architecture.


Another skill that people ask me about is art or drawing in particular, and the same idea goes, they are not necessary, but they will only make you a better student, you will learn all of this knowledge and skills over time with experience and practice. And in the cases where you aren’t good at art or, or hand drawing, there are so many other options for you that can actually allow you to niche down into a particular area such as technology or CAD drawing, you might be really good at that, but you might not be that good at handling and that’s all right, it’s actually really good to have specific skills that are particular to yourself something that separates you from the rest of the hundreds of other architecture students that are competing for a job at the same practice as you.

So that’s my take on maths and science and drawing and art. I think what will really help you and the skills that will really help you succeed and that I think are essentials for architecture students or architects in the profession is to firstly have good communication or people or social skills. Having the ability to deal with people is really important as you’re dealing with so many different kinds of people. Throughout the course of architecture, you’re dealing with clients, and jurors, and teachers and employees and bosses. And so having the ability to communicate with these people is so very important. The skill of networking is very underrated as an architecture student or an architect in the profession. And so these people or social or communication skills, they don’t necessarily mean being good at talking. But often it’s the opposite. Having the ability to listen will do so many favors throughout your course of studying architecture, whether that be listening to your client, or what I kind of see as the exact same as that throughout your architecture school is your juris. Also, if you’re a likeable person with good communication and people skills, your bosses will give you better opportunities.

These communication skills are also important during school because you’re doing a lot of group projects, even in firms after you graduate, if you’re working in a practice, you’re doing a lot of group projects and working with so many different people, from engineers, to contractors, to builders, to lawyers, and surveyors, and so many other different people. And so to be able to work well with other people, is extremely important.

The great thing is, the skill of communication, or social ability and people skills, I guess, is that you can practice this, and you only get better at it through experience and over time. You might tell yourself “you’re not that good at dealing with people or working in groups.” But if you’re telling yourself that, then you’re not going to be getting any better. You need to tell yourself that you’re getting better at it every day and you need to consciously practice working on these skills because that is the only way that you get more comfortable doing it and to be able to get better at it.

So, another skill that I think is extremely important is management skills. As an architect, you have to manage time and budget and people. So the skill of managing time is extremely important because you are under a time budget pressure, I guess. So you only have an allocated amount of time. So you should be able to manage your personal self, with the time that you have is extremely important. It’s super sad the way that people have perceived the profession of architecture nowadays that architects always have to work over time. And they’re always stressed and always under pressure. And this isn’t just practicing architects. This is also students in architecture school, there’s obviously a lot of work to do. And it’s a very intense, however fun and rewarding course. But the ability to be able to manage yourself under these stressful and tough times is going to be incredibly beneficial in the long run.

And so it’s not just the ability of managing yourself but also managing others because you’re going to be working in groups, as I said earlier, and this requires leadership and teamwork if you’re working on a group project and you have someone that doesn’t show up? What are the things that you’re going to do to bring them back so that they are motivated and keen to do well in this project so that everybody does well, and you don’t fall behind because of this one person? If you start shouting at them and tell them that they suck at architecture, then they’re not going to do well. That’s not going to serve you in your own project. However, if you reinforce their work with positive encouragement, and you tell them that they’re doing really well, that might just bring them back to your group project, and then you guys can start working together to finish off the project you started and get a good grade for it.

So those are the skills that I believe will help you as a high school student all the way through to an architect in the profession. So having those traditional skills of math, science, drawing or art and technology, they are going to help you however, they’re not required for you to get started in architecture. I believe if you have a passion, that is big enough, it will trump those technical skills.

To give you a specific answer though, I do you think that they will help you in the sense that science and maths will give you a good person problem solving and analytical skills. However, I think being somewhat sufficient in computer skills and technology is also going to be really beneficial for you. Having some Photoshop and maybe CAD skills before starting architecture school is definitely going to help you having some kind of background in art or drawing is also going to be beneficial because architecture is very creative and imagination intense. And so having those skills are definitely going to make you a better architect.

More importantly, though, I think the two main skills that you should either have or begin working on as an architect or architecture student is the ability to communicate with people and also the ability to manage time budget, and people, including yourself and others.

I really hope you guys found that topic helpful. And I appreciate you listening to me. If you have any questions about this topic or just architecture in general, you’ve got to head over to the new forums over at successfuarchistudent.com/community. It’s a brand new free resource for architecture students where you can just sign up or you can even post as a guest and you can just ask questions and talk to other students and post your projects and start building up your network of architecture students and other people related to the architecture profession.

I can’t wait to see you guys there. Thank you again, and I’ll see you in the next episode of the Successful Archi Student’s Podcast.


If you have a project you want to delve in to and discuss, or you have some useful tips for other students you think would be helpful, please, send me an email to kyle@successfularchistudent.com and get in touch about it!
Otherwise, direct message me on Instagram @successfularchistudent and I’ll be keen to set up a skype call.

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