EducationCareer talks

Higher Options career talks: architecture

All school-leavers need to know about study options and job prospects in the built environment

Architecture influences all aspect of our lives – the homes we live in, the buildings we work in and the streets that surround us. And architects lead in the design, delivery and management of the built environment and need a broad range of abilities: creative, visual, technical, organisational, and social.

But how do you know if it’s for you? What are career prospects like? And what is the most enjoyable aspect of the job?

For Joe Stokes, a director at architectural firm McCullough Mulvin, seeing a building completed is the “most fulfilling thing and seeing people really being able to enjoy spaces.”

Working on the design of everything from galleries to museums and houses to schools, he says the variety of day-to-day work in the industry is a huge plus.


“You might be presenting to a client in the morning, then meeting with a lighting specialist and then going to site in the afternoon. It also gives you the opportunity to travel, not just internationally, but even within your own town or city.”


In terms of particular interests that those wishing to study architecture could have, Stokes highlights physics and technical graphics as two academic interests that are helpful within the industry, alongside a passion for things like drawing and art.

“I’d also recommend it to people with an interest in design, that’s really the thing that is going to keep you going during your years studying in college. But if you have other interests like technology, managing people or processes then it might also be for you. Communication is really key too,” he added.

He says the way in which he as an architect enjoyed art was different from other students.

“I was quite meticulous though. So, while some people were quite free while they were working creatively, I was much more structured and process orientated,” he says.


When asked what he enjoys most about working in architecture, the Dublin-based architect says: “Designing and creating environments that people will hopefully be able to enjoy on a daily basis. We spend so much of our daily lives inside buildings, so it’s incredibly important that the quality of them is where it needs to be. We aren’t always aware of the rooms that we are in, but they have a huge potential to impact our day-to-day lives.”

Interview conducted in 2021