Date Uploaded: 24/05/2016
As the last boom and bust cycle illustrated so painfully, a career in construction and architecture is likely to be more exposed to economic risk than many of other industries.
On the positive side, demand for skills in these areas is very high now thanks to the strong recovery in property prices, limited only by the Central Bank’s stricter mortgage lending rules.
The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) reports that the sector is currently the biggest generator of jobs in Ireland, hiring at a rate of about a 1,000 people a month. It also notes a 50 per cent increase in the number of architectural jobs on offer so far this year.
Quantity surveyors and building surveyors remain in particularly short supply. Earlier this year, the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland issued a statement with the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland and Engineers Ireland raising concerns about the lack of graduates in construction-related fields to fill the 2,000 surveying jobs that they expect will be created over the next three years.
All the same, if this sector is definitely for you, it’s worth bearing in mind a longer-term career strategy.
For instance, many career experts would advise you to adopt skills that are readily transferable so as to give you more options if things take a turn for the worse again, such as taking these skills to another country. Indeed, the opportunities to work abroad are among the strongest attractions of this sector.
“Increasingly, the skills you gain while working in a trade or in the industry in Ireland are globally transferable,” said Rosalind Travers of the CIF. “A huge number our members have the expertise and are building fantastic buildings and infrastructure in the UK, across the EU, Africa and the Far East.”
Transferable skills would also give you the opportunity to switch career, which is, after all, increasingly common across the board given how true the adage that “there’s no such thing as a job for life” is these days.
For instance, students on surveying courses do not just study valuation and measurement, but also learn about financial management, economics, law, planning and technology.
However, switching sectors mid-career might not be as necessary for those who aspire to be architects, according to Carole Pollard, president of the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland.
She acknowledges that while student intakes to construction-related courses fell significantly during the recession, including in architecture, the five top schools – UCD, DIT, UL, UCC/CIT and WIT – continued to attract high calibre students throughout this period.
“Those who undertook their undergraduate studies during the most difficult years of the recession are now graduating into an environment where their skills are very much in demand, both here in Ireland and abroad,” she said. It takes a minimum of five years to complete an architecture degree.
So, in a nutshell, if you are determined to be an architect, there is less chance you’ll need to switch career if the economy goes belly-up. “In addition to increasing job opportunities in Ireland, an accredited degree in architecture from any of the Irish schools of architecture is a passport to practising architecture around the world, and indeed many of the most successful Irish architects spent time working abroad before returning to establish their practices in Ireland.
Architecture is well catered for by UCD, DIT, UCC/CIT, WIT and UL, while a range of surveying and construction courses are available at DIT, as well as at WIT, GMIT, Dundalk IT and Limerick IT.
Given the current popularity of courses linked to the economic recovery, you can expect CAO points increases in architecture and construction this year.
Of the record 76,000 submissions to CAO this year, two of the biggest rises in applications were recorded in architecture (up 13.5 per cent), and business and construction-related courses (up 8 per cent).
If it’s any consolation, points only crept up a little in some cases between 2015 and last year for architecture, architectural technology and surveying courses. The DIT programme required 590 last year, while the UCD course needed 490. The joint UCC/CIT architecture programme asks 440, UL 390 and WIT 310.
The points for DIT’s quantity surveying course crept up to 330 last year compared to 2014, while architectural technology needed 335. WIT and Dundalk IT both needed 300 for their surveying programmes, while Limerick IT asked for 250 and GMIT 210.
The 2016 salary survey by Hays Recruitment shows a graduate architect in the Dublin area can expect to start on €25,000 rising to up to €60,000 with 10 years experience, while a partner or director in a firm can expect a salary starting at least €55,000 rising to €80,000.
A graduate civil engineer can expect a salary of around €25,000, rising to up to €50,000 with six-nine years’ experience. A junior quantity surveyor (one-two 2 years’ experience) is looking at a salary in the region of €35,000 and that will rise to €55,000 with 10 years’ experience.
Journalist: John Cradden