• 08 Sep 2021

Designing a Career in Architecture - Advice for Leaving Certificate Students

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland issues advice for interested students

8 September 2021: The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) acknowledges the continued strong upward trend in architecture in the 2021 CAO Round 1 offers. A combination of record-breaking Leaving Certificate results and higher numbers of college applicants have pushed CAO points higher for courses this year including architecture and architecture technology.

RIAI Education Director, Sandra Campbell said: “A career in architecture gives graduates an opportunity to lead in the delivery of the built environment and contribute directly to Ireland’s economic progress and to the quality of life of its citizens. This increase in architectural talent coming into the profession will play an important role in addressing the challenges facing society now and in the coming years. Those entering architectural education today will work with important initiatives like Project 2040 to design buildings, cities and infrastructures that offer solutions to the challenges facing society now and in the future and add value to all our lives.”


When selecting a programme of study to become a registered architect, it is essential to check that it is properly accredited and prescribed for access to the profession.

There are a number of routes to registration as an architect, but the most typical is to complete a prescribed degree course in architecture, at least two years of approved postgraduate professional training and a specified Professional Practice Examination. 

Prescribed degree courses in architecture take five years of full-time study. Sometimes the five years of study are split into a three-year course followed by a two-year course, or a four-year course followed by a one-year course. Many students take a year out to gain practical experience between the third and fourth year or between fourth and fifth year. Only the final award (after five years) is formally accredited or recognised.

From beginning study to full professional qualification, including postgraduate professional training, it typically takes seven to nine years to become a registered architect. Graduates of the three-year or four-year courses in Architecture are not eligible for any class of RIAI membership or for registration as an architect.

There are currently five qualifications in architecture accredited by the RIAI for the purposes of registration as an architect offered in the Republic of Ireland by the following institutions: University College Dublin, University of Limerick, Technological University Dublin, Waterford Institute of Technology and University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology’s jointly run course (CCAE).

The Institute of Technology Sligo has applied to the RIAI for the accreditation and subsequent prescription of their 5-year Bachelors of Architecture (Hons) degree - CAO Code SG347. In February 2019 this degree was awarded Provisional Approval by the RIAI. The earliest that this qualification may achieve full accreditation by the RIAI and prescription under the Building Control Act 2007 is when the first cohort of students graduate from the programme in 2023. Therefore, the Bachelor of Architecture degree (BArch) at Institute of Technology Sligo has begun the prescription process but is not currently prescribed for the purposes of registration as an architect in Ireland under the Building Control Act 2007.

Architectural Technology

The most common way to qualify as an architectural technologist is to undertake a degree through an RIAI accredited course, which generally takes three years of full-time study, followed by a two year period of supervised practical training. You are then eligible to become an Architectural Technologist member of the RIAI.

The RIAI currently accredits qualifications in Architectural Technology from five third-level educational institutions in the Republic of Ireland; Institute of Technology Carlow, Cork Institute of Technology, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and Technological University Dublin.

Further information and advice about becoming an architect can be found on the RIAI website 'Becoming an Architect'.

Further information and advice about becoming an architectural technologist can be found on the RIAI website 'Becoming an Architectural Technologist'.

For further information contact: Sandra Campbell, RIAI, 01 676 1703, scampbell@riai.ie


Table 1: CAO Points for RIAI Accredited Qualifications in Architecture

Institution CAO Ref QQI Level 2021 2020 Difference
UCC & CIT (joint) CK606 4yr BSc Arch + 1yr MArch 543 484 +59
Technological University Dublin TU832 5yr BArch or 4 yr BSc Arch + 1.5 yr MArch 644* 622* +22
University College Dublin DN100 3yr BSc Arch + 2yr MArch 555 510 +45
University of Limerick LM099 5yr BArch 520** 498** +22
Waterford Institute of Technology WD144 5yr BArch 309 284 +25

*Applicants must attend a suitability test and interview for which extra points are awarded
**Applicants must first pass a portfolio examination in April, prior to the CAO. Only those applicants who have successfully passed the portfolio examination are considered through the CAO.
AQA - All qualified applicants.


Table 2: CAO Points for Qualifications in Architecture with RIAI Provisional Accreditation

Institution CAO Ref QQI Level 2021 2020 Difference
IT Sligo SG347 5 yr BArch 403 360 +43

Table 3: CAO Points for RIAI accredited Qualifications in Architectural Technology
Note: Only the eight qualifications in architectural technology listed below are accredited by the RIAI

Institution CAO Ref QQI Level 2021 2020 Difference
Galway Mayo IT GA483 4yr 8 Degree (Hons) 281 265 +16
IT Carlow CW468 4yr 8 Degree (Hons) 291 262 +29
Munster Technical University CR560 4yr 8 Degree (Hons) 375 308 +67
Technological University Dublin TU831 4yr 8 Degree (Hons) 423 410 +13
Galway Mayo IT GA472 3yr Degree (Ord) 260 226 +34
IT Carlow CR090 3yr 7 Degree (Ord) 234 188 +46
Letterkenny IT LY547 3yr Degree (Ord) -* -*
Munster Technical University CR090 3yr Degree (Ord) 308 266 +42

*No intake