Architecture jobs abroad can be very competitive, as more and more architects are turning abroad in search of the most fruitful job opportunities. Whether a recent graduate fresh on the market, or a seasoned architect looking for a change, finding a job abroad in architecture can be a life changing decision and the chance to construct the project of your dreams.
Why Work Abroad in Architecture
Architecture is a tough field to enter into in many countries, but luckily there are ripe job opportunities for architects overseas. Especially in developing countries that are currently building an advanced infrastructure, trained architects are given the chance to design and oversee projects they may never have had the chance to in their native country. Ranging from high-rise buildings to public parks and entire cityscapes, architecture jobs abroad afforded by urbanization and industrialization around the world are extremely vast.
Technically, you can find architecture job opportunities pretty much anywhere in the world. However, some markets present much more profitable jobs for architects than others. Architects from industrialized countries are often frustrated by the amount of red tape and limited number of major projects that they have access to. On the other hands, in many developing countries architects are guided by less bureaucracy, more building, in most cases.
Countries in South and Central America, such as Brazil and Panama, in the Middle East, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and in Asia, such as India and Vietnam are all current hotspots for architecture jobs abroad that include contracted work. China is also a booming bed of architecture currently, as it continues its process of rapid economic growth and massive urbanization.
If you do not want to work abroad as an architect in the developing world, architecture jobs will likely be more competitive and projects less grandiose. Still, opportunities remain nonetheless. Countries such as Norway, Switzerland, and Australia are examples of nations within the industrialized world where architects can find jobs abroad.
Depending on where you find an architecture job abroad, you will have to deal with the language barrier and subsequent challenges of communicating with your local team. English is spoken commonly enough in most places that native English speakers with limited foreign language skills can get by. However, if you make a sincere effort to learn the local language, then your life and job as an architect abroad will become a hundred times easier.
Architecture Jobs Abroad
The types of architecture job opportunities you might find abroad will depend largely on your prior professional experience. For many fresh graduates, the search for architecture jobs begin with an internship, before landing any significant contracts or becoming employed full time by an architectural firm. Alternatively, seasoned architects have more flexibility when looking for architecture jobs abroad.
Basically there are two routes you can take to landing an architecture job abroad: either working for an international firm and being sent to design/oversee an international project or looking for employment directly with an architecture firm abroad. Either way, it is likely that you will be working as an architect abroad along local staff, so cross-cultural communication skills will be important.
One of the most frustrating aspects of working abroad for many architects can be the varying standard of quality and sustainability that countries adhere to. Sustainability is simply not a top priority in many developing countries, who are playing catch up economically, and therefore many private contractors lean toward profitability above environmental considerations and quality control. Despite this frustration, architects working abroad in a developing country will have an immense opportunity to share their skills, education, and outlook on the field, in order to help improve local standards.
Nevertheless, there are many NGOs and non-profit developmental organizations with branches all over the world, which have an eye directed toward more long-term sustainability. You may not see many architecture job opportunities constructing skyscrapers working in this realm, but the work can be very rewarding on a whole different level.
Salary & Affordability
Intuitively, the primary reason that architects look for jobs abroad is because they tend to pay better than the ones available at home. Some countries (for example Dubai) can pay close to double the annual wages that one might receive working as an architect in Europe. This tremendous pay increase will obviously not be the same all over the world, but it is an indication of the type of lucrative architecture job opportunities one can find in developing markets.
On the other end, some architecture jobs abroad, particularly entry level positions or those in sustainable planning or focused on volunteer building projects, will not pay nearly as well. Many architecture jobs abroad offered to international architects are lower paying because they are projects that are funded and overseen by not-for-profit organizations. As in any profession, you can expect to make a lot more money working as an architect in the corporate sector rather than in the public or non-profit sector.
More Projects. By expanding your search for architecture jobs to the global sphere, you will gain access to a larger variety of employment opportunities which you may not have available in your home country or be eligible for. Working abroad in architecture is a great chance to test your own diversity and range as an architect.
Better Pay. The simple truth behind why many architects look for work abroad is that they receive better compensation for their efforts. The market tends to be fairly crowded in industrialized countries, and taking your skillset overseas can sometimes ultimately lead to the most profitable outcome.
Global Mobility. When entering the international job market, you will not be confined to work in just one location. By having a diverse range of projects in your portfolio, in different locations, you will become an increasingly qualified candidate for architecture jobs all over the globe.