How many hours do architects work

Profession of the week series: The most beautiful thing is the construction site

Architects design our living space. You design buildings under creative, technical, economic, ecological and social aspects. They advise and support their clients and they plan and monitor the construction. A dream job for many, even though the working conditions are extremely tough.

Many are fascinated by the versatility of the profession: Creativity is required for drafts, mathematical knowledge for calculations, organizational talent for checking and managing construction projects and social skills for dealing with clients and trades.
But in very few cases are young professionals involved in the supreme discipline of design. Because there are worlds between everyday work and studying, during which many designs are developed. Rather, the reality shows that young professionals are responsible for monotonous implementation planning, have 12-hour days and have to work on weekends, and work for salaries that are at the bottom of the income bracket of young professionals with a university degree.

The working conditions also vary depending on the size of the architecture office. In large offices, for example, the various responsibilities are often structured in departments. In the design, competition and implementation department, ideas are sketched and implemented in drawings, and everyone involved in the creation process of the design (e.g. specialist engineers, construction companies, manufacturers) is coordinated. In planning departments, architects deal with time planning as well as cost estimation, calculation and control. In addition, normal office activities such as correspondence and telephony must be carried out. In small offices, however, architects are often responsible for all areas of responsibility.

Architect is a protected job title. Therefore, only architects are allowed to call themselves who have completed their architecture studies and can then prove practical experience of two to three years. Only then can an architect be registered in the State Chamber of Architects. Not only the prerequisite to be able to bear the title of architect, but also to be able to be independent as such.


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Most architects specialize in residential and commercial construction, renovation of old buildings and monument preservation or urban and regional planning. And depending on the area in which you work, there are various further training opportunities. For Bachelor graduates there are not only architecture but also the advanced subjects of construction management, interior design, landscape architecture and open space planning, which are completed with a master’s degree. If you want to pursue an academic career at a university after completing your degree, you usually have to do a doctorate.

Precarious conditions when entering

According to the Federal Chamber of Architects, twice as many graduates enter working life as architects retire due to age. As a result, career starters are often only offered fixed-term employment contracts. Architects are also increasingly working part-time or in contract work. In addition to these mixed job opportunities, there are poor earning opportunities. Those who do an internship after completing their studies in order to obtain chamber approval generally receive between 1,000 and 2,000 euros gross per month.

The chances on the job market are also the dark side of the job. Therefore, many architects also work as site managers, for associations, authorities or real estate agencies. And quite a few become self-employed as freelancers or join forces with several to form an architecture office or at least a network. And regardless of whether they are employed or self-employed, they all have in common the enormous working hours.

And although very few architects are exclusively creative and design, the job is appealing. Because the best part of a project is still the construction site. When what you have thought, designed and drawn is actually implemented. Architect Rafael Forster believes that this is the greatest reward one can have.

  • Salary: The recommendation of the Employers' Association of German Architects and Engineers for architects who have completed their training at a state-recognized university is between EUR 2,390 (tariff group T4) and EUR 3,096 (tariff group T5, special expertise and experience).
  • Working hours: The average weekly working time is 50 hours a week.
  • Training: After studying architecture and a subsequent internship, you can call yourself an architect and register with the relevant state chamber of architects.