This article examines the work-based placements of trainee architects in the United Kingdom to examine how trainees become architects. The trainee architects in this study experienced varying levels of participation and responsibility during their yearlong placements. Despite this diversity, developing the trainees on placement was found to be integral to the professional role of the architect. The university-based element of architecture training focused almost exclusively on abstract design while their placements involved practical problem-solving. However, the apparent tension between these elements encouraged the trainees to integrate architectural theory and practice while on placement so they developed both aesthetically and technically. Moreover, the trainees' presence in the studios helped to nurture fresh design and so helped to feed the central design core of architectural practice. Nevertheless, the trainees' experience of working in an architectural studio on placement often confounded their expectations of architects' practice. Yet, becoming an architect retained its personal significance. Issues remain, though, around the unequal access to opportunities on placement and how this inequality might affect trainee architects' learning.