1. Home
  2. Careers
  3. Architectural technologist

Architectural technologist

What does an Architectural technologist do?

An architectural technologist works closely with architects with their main area of focus the technical side of construction. Both of these professionals spend their working hours bringing building projects to life, and many aspects of their daily roles overlap. But there are also some differences.

Generally speaking, architects are more involved in creating the designs for a building, while architectural technologists take care of the more practical aspects of the project: Is the building functional? Does it meet all the legal and safety requirements? 

If you become an architectural technologist, you’ll probably spend much of your day preparing drawings, surveying building sites and supervising the crucial details of the building process. Part of their duty is to come up with initial concepts and designs. 


What qualifications do I need?

To become an architectural technologist you need to have a National Diploma: Architectural Technology (Dip Arch). Applicants for the diploma must have a Senior Certificate with matric exemption. Upon completion of the Diploma in Architectural Technology - a three-year course - you may become a Candidate Architectural Technologist with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP). You can even go further and enroll for the Advanced Diploma in Architectural Technology, a two-year part-time course. With this qualification, you may qualify as a Candidate Senior Architectural Technologist with SACAP, and also have the option to proceed with further postgraduate studies at various universities that offer them, in order to become a Candidate Professional Architect (PrArch).

What subjects do I need?

Physical Science
Technical Drawing


Where can I study?

Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)
NDip Architectural Technology

Durban University of Technology (DUT)
NDip Architectural Technology

University of Johannesburg (UJ)
NDip Architectural Technology

Where can I get more info?

South African Institute of Architectural Technologists (SAIAT) - www.saiat.org.za
South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) - www.sacapsa.com


Interview with an Architectural technologist

Tarryn Craig | ARCHITECTURAL TECHNOLOGIST | Self employed

Tarryn Craig | ARCHITECTURAL TECHNOLOGIST | Self employed


Why did you choose this profession?
I suppose I was always drawn to detail. In an art composition I would take hours to draw the pattern in the backdrop fabric and the rest would be almost irrelevant. My parents introduced me to an architect when I was 16 and from there my school subjects were steered towards a career in architecture.

Please explain what it is that you do
We document and resolve structures in the built environment. Basically, we are given a design/concept for a building and with the help of a structural engineer make the building stand up.

What training did you undergo?
I left Zimbabwe at 18 with a couple of A Levels behind me and did a three year Diploma in Architectural Technology at Cape Tech. The course took me six years in the end, as I worked while I studied to support myself through the course.

Describe a typical day
A typical day would be spent behind the computer drawing. It’s not a glamourous job but I find the challenge of resolving how a building will become a space where people live, work, play, etc, very interesting.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love drawing! My people skills aren’t great, so I prefer being in the background drawing.

What don’t you like?
I sometimes feel a bit isolated; I work mostly on my own. When starting out I would recommend working in an office with other people and also getting involved on site.

What hurdles have you had?
Creating my own business was a big leap for me and it continues to be a challenge.

What’s been the highlight of your career?
Running and documenting a multistorey commercial building. I learnt so much from the team of engineers, contractors and so on that the experience was invaluable to my career.

What are your future goals?
Bigger and more challenging projects.

Experience vs formal training?
You have to have a good base of knowledge before starting to work in the industry but experience is vital. I worked in architecture and interior design while I was studying and they both helped me get ahead in the job market. The tech course’s second year is a practical year, where you work in an architectural office. That’s so important, not just for experience but also to get an idea of what you are aiming towards.

Is there a type of personality best suited to this work?
You need to have great attention to detail, patience for when that detail changes and a practical/logical way of thinking.

Any advice for someone starting out in your career?
Work hard at college: the course isn’t easy, but if you are consistent you will succeed. In the work environment, remember a building project is a team effort, listen and learn from those around you.

Your job in three words
Challenging, interesting and rewarding.