Job Market in London

Here in the US, the employment situation for architects seems to be making a very slow but steady rebound. However, I haven't heard much about what's going on in the UK (particularly London), as most of the relevant threads here on Archinect date from about 2010 or so, when it was a bloodbath everywhere. I'm particularly interested in the job situation for those who are proficient at Revit, such as myself. While the overall job market is terrible, I've read several posts that seem to indicate that people with good Revit skills are in relatively high demand. Can anybody confirm or deny if that's the case?

I'm still working on my M.Arch. degree in the US, but I've often considered the possibility of heading to London after grad school for various reasons. (I'm aware that getting the ARB to recognize American education credentials for RIBA Parts 1 and 2 is a difficult and expensive process, but not impossible. I would then be up to me to take RIBA Part 3 in the UK if I wanted to become registered there.)

Of greater concern is the visa situation, as I understand the Home Office has pretty much made it impossible to get an employment visa unless you're making at least £75,000 annually, which pretty much rules out all architects except senior-level partners in corporate firms. Is this still the case, or has this issue been revisited? It may serve as an effective protection racket for now, but I could see this being a big issue once the job market starts to pick up again, especially as older architects retire or leave the profession.

I've looked into the possibility of getting a UK Ancestry Visa, as my paternal grandfather was British and my father has dual US/UK citizenship, but unless I'm mistaken, that only seems to apply to citizens of Commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia, etc., which rules me out. (The alternative, I suppose, would be to find a nice Brit to marry.)

Jan 22, 13 8:32 pm


As an addendum to the above, it's my understanding that the salary requirement for the visa was actually £65,000 (not £75,000), and was something that was merely being considered by the Home Office, but not actually approved. Can anybody confirm?

Jan 27, 13 12:59 am

I can't confirm any Home Office salary requirements, but the current employment situation in the UK is pretty bleak right now for a Part II (which you would be considered), especially if you have no UK experience, regardless of Revit abilities.  However, that being said, it is improving.  Unfortunately there are a lot of unemployed Part II's out there looking for work, so the competition is steep.

Salary is also extremely poor for Part II's right now.  As a new grad with no UK experience, expect anywhere between £20-£25k/year.  While it's not impossible to live in London for £25k/year, it's not what I would consider a decent liveable salary for the area.  If you have zero student loans to pay off in the US, you'd probably do ok on that for the first few years before you got your Part III and increased your salary.  If you planned to live outside of London, expect closer to the £20k mark.

As I understand, there is a visa option for US citizens to live in the UK for 1 year while working for 6 months, or something along those lines (as long as you're under 30).  But I'm not entirely sure on the details of that visa - it's something I'm sure you could find online easily enough.  It would be far beneficial for you to have the ancestry visa though, should you qualify for that.

Feb 7, 13 2:42 pm

I can confirm that the Visa situation is pretty much impossible... They do have a salary requirement which is no where near what architects make.. the requirement amount depends on your age.. but pretty much no junior architect makes enough money. It's hard enough for non EU members who are already living and working there to renew their visas.. let alone applying for a new one from outside the country. 

From my experience, many office in the UK don;t use autodesk products but rather use microstation (paying for one license for the whole office vs a license for each person using it).. I never remember seeing Revit as a desired skill in job postings.. it has been a little while since I was back so things could have changed.. but that's my experience anyways

Feb 7, 13 6:41 pm

Thanks for the helpful info...

There's a slim possibility I could spend my next (and final) co-op in London this summer, in which case the visa situation wouldn't be quite as hopeless as it would only be temporary, but it still seems like a long shot.

After graduation, it seems like NYC would be the place to go if I still want to live in a diverse, global city with large-scale transportation projects (which is a big interest of mine) and a good design culture. A visa wouldn't be an issue, and since I've already lived and worked in NYC before starting grad school, I know the city pretty well and have quite a few contacts there. And for those times when I need my London fix, I know a good fish and chips place in the Village, and flights to Heathrow aren't too painfully long or expensive.

Feb 7, 13 8:08 pm

Try doing your co-op with Grimshaw in London.  They're one of the firms involved in the Crossrail project which is perhaps the largest transportation project in London right now (if not the whole of the UK).  It would definitely help you should you want to return to London once you've graduated.

Feb 8, 13 2:28 am

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