A selected number of vacancies available for architects at the highest grossing firms in the world for 2014/15, according to Building Design of UK were analysed. These high profile firms included the top five of each of the following regions: the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. Also, vacancies from firms who did not make the list, but are well known for their prestigious nature were also analysed. It is important to note that the vacancies considered were for design architects only, and that other disciplines such as site, project, and landscape architecture would require additional skill sets related to the area of expertise.

What was made certain when carrying out the analysis is that experience is the most valuable addition to your resume’. Without experience a high profile firm will not risk hiring you as only experience in the field will prove whether you are indeed capable. Minimum requirement of years of experience varies between 3 and 4 years while higher earning positions will ask for much more. Also, before applying to a high profile firm see what projects they are more inclined to work on, whether its towers, residences, commercial spaces or infrastructure, and push to get experience in your current job on projects which your future employer will find beneficial.

While different companies ask for different skill sets, each one will ask for a portfolio. So it really is irrelevant whether you render using one program or another, or use AutoCAD or ArchiCAD to draw up your plans. Focus on the presentation, if your portfolio looks fabulous then that will get your foot in the door and not your computer literacy. Take the time to participate in architectural competitions to widen your portfolio, high profile firms will appreciate it, in fact, Zaha Hadid Architects specifically asked for this in one of their job posts.

As already stated, presentation is key. Most, if not all firms ask for software skills in Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator, therefore it’s advantageous to get experience using Adobe Suite. Free hand sketching is also usually overlooked when compiling a resume’, when this particular skill can really set you out. With high profile firms branching across the world, learning an additional language or two will only improve your chances of getting hired, along with any international work experience.

The essential skillsets to include in your resume’ include: Revit BIM, Adobe Suite and AutoCAD. However, different firms will also prioritise other skill sets. Top UK firms will favour experience in Microstation, while high profile Design firms will focus more on Rhino skills and parametric modelling. US firms focus a lot on LEED accreditation, while multidisciplinary firms will appreciate any onsite experience and knowledge of building codes.

Top Earning High Profile Firms


Essential skills required by all firms:LEED Accreditation, AutoCAD, Revit BIM,  Adobe Suite

Essential skills required by majority of firms: Rhino, 3Ds Max, SketchUp, Knowledge of Building Regulations, Registered Architect/Member of a Professional Body

Other skills: On Site Experience, Freehand Sketching, Grasshopper

Gensler, Aecom, Perkins+Will, IBI Group, HOK


Essential skills required by all firms: Adobe Suite, Revit BIM, AutoCAD

Essential skills required by majority of firms: Microstation, 3Ds Max, SketchUp, Registered Architect/Member of a Professional Body, Knowledge of Building Regulations, Rhino

Other skills: Project Management Experience, Working in a BIM Environment, Freehand Sketching, Low Carbon Design Principles, Graphic Design Skills, Grasshopper

Foster and Partners, Atkins, GMP, Tengbom, Aedas


Essential skills required by majority of firms: Bilingual capabilities, AutoCAD, Adobe suite, 3ds Max, Revit BIM

Nikken Sekkei, DP Architects, Samoo Architects and Engineers, P&T Architects, RSP Architects


Essential skills required by all firms: Revit BIM, Rhino

Essential skills required by majority of firms: Registered Architect/Member of a Professional Body, Photoshop, InDesign, AutoCAD

Hassel, Woods Bagot, Cox Architecture, The Buchan Group, HBO+EMTB

Other Prestigious Firms

Essential skills required by all firms: AutoCAD, Adobe suite, Revit BIM, 3ds Max

Essential skills required by majority of firms: International Design Standards, Registered Architect/Member of a professional body, SketchUp

Other Skills: MArch degree, Onsite experience, Navisworks, LEED Accreditation, Microstation, Maya, ArchiCAD, Ecotect, Grasshopper

Snohetta, BIG, Populous, ARUP, MAD, REX, NBBJ, Zaha Hadid Architects, Buro Happold, OMA

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