Advice for Recent Graduates

This information is for those who have or are about to graduate with an MArch(Prof) from the University of Auckland, or Unitec, or Victoria University of Wellington.

After five years’ of demanding study, finally you have or are about to graduate with your M Arch (Prof). Firstly, well done!

If you intend to be a working architect, you should be planning your path to registration as an architect, hence this information.

What is registration?
Registration means legally being a New Zealand Registered Architect.

A Registered Architect is a person recorded on the New Zealand Architects’ Register as able to practise competently and thus permitted by law to call him or herself an “Architect”.

In New Zealand, when providing building design services, only a Registered Architect can put “Architect” on his or her business card, and likewise for websites, Facebook, Linked In, and so on.

This means as you work towards registration, describe yourself as an "Architectural Graduate". Please don’t use the term "Graduate Architect". This suggests that you have the title of “Architect” which is legally protected until you are registered.

Registration prerequisites
To be assessed for registration, persons with a recognised degree also need to have the required work experience. The specific requirements are EITHER:

  • 5,250 hours practical experience, of which at least 3,550 hours must be post-graduation of a recognised qualification and at least 1,650 hours must be spent under the direction of a Registered Architect in New Zealand; OR
  • 9,750 hours (5 years) practical experience of which at least 8,000 hours must be post-graduation of a recognised qualification and at least 3,150 hours must be spent in the practice of architecture in New Zealand.

The second and longer option is for those who find some kind of architectural work that is NOT under the supervision of a Registered Architect. This might include working for an architectural designer or setting up your own business or working overseas.

Once you have the required work experience you can apply to be assessed for registration. Typically, Architectural Graduates come to registration about four to five years after they graduate, though if you are ready it can be sooner.

Other procedures are available for applicants who don’t have a recognised degree and the required work experience, and architects from overseas.

How the actual assessment takes place
The assessment itself is a face-to-face meeting with two experienced architects who discuss with you the architectural work you’ve done and through that whether you have the required skills, knowledge, experience and attitudes. This is called a professional conversation.   Approximately 83% of applicants are recommended for registration.  The Board of NZRAB makes the final decision.

Registration will be a few years’ away, but there are some useful things you can do now to make it easier when the time comes, as follows.

NZIA APL Graduate Development Programme (GDP)
The New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) provides a programme to help architectural graduates and other professionals prepare for registration. It also helps those wishing to re-enter the workforce after a career break or returning from voluntary suspension. The programme has seminars, including on-line, and workshops throughout the year. This is really worth doing. Find out more at

CPD for Graduates
Architects are required to undertake regular professional development, known as Continuing Professional Development (CPD). As an Architectural Graduate you can do this too, to extend yourself professionally. To get started, go to

Staying in touch with the NZRAB
Persons working towards registration can subscribe to information updates.

Project Record Forms
To be assessed, registration applicants are required to provide Project Record Forms that record the architectural work they have done. It’s much better to fill these out as your work progresses, as opposed to scrabbling around later. So do these “as you go”.

Breadth of experience
As an Architectural Graduate, one of the things you will need to keep an eye on in your daily work is whether you are getting the breadth of experience necessary for registration and for being a well-rounded architect. Think about this in terms of the following experience areas:

  • Project initiation and pre-design
  • Concept, preliminary and development design stages
  • Detailed design and documentation
  • Procurement
  • Administration and observation of the contract works.

Be careful that your work doesn’t pigeon hole you too much. For this, we can provide guidance. Return to the Background Information page to find contact details.

Case Study
You don’t need to start work on this now, but be mindful that when you come up for assessment you will need to provide a Case Study of work that you have done in the last five years on one or more complex architectural projects. Case studies require careful preparation, so start some months before your registration application is due. A last minute rush is not good.

More information
For step-by-step details of how the registration process works for qualifying architectural graduates, go here.

Final thought
The work that architects do is important. As a Registered Architect, you will be making the most of your investment so far in your career. This is worth doing.