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What are the pros and cons of Architecture/Engineering?

I'm currently in between choosing courses. Either way, before the upcoming year arrives I'd want to know which field I'd be most likely to uptake. I would like to weigh out the pros and cons of each of these careers, so if there is anyone experienced out there... #architecture #career #engineering

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Justin’s Answer

Hi IA,

Thanks for submitting your question. I worked for about a decade as a structural engineer. So from that standpoint, I can definitely share some of the pros of deciding to be an engineer. Also, after a decade I decided to walk away from engineering and get a graduate degree in business, so I can also share some of the cons that lead me to make that decision.


Being an engineer, and also studying to be an engineer will provide you with an extremely strong set of core strengths that you will not get in many other careers. You become a very good problem solver and you will learn how to quickly pinpoint the driving issues of a problem. You'll learn how to weight alternatives quickly. You develop an analytical, problem solving mindset that I truly believe many people don't hold and that is going to help you through your career, whether you stay in engineering or go on to do something else.

You'll also be exposed to a world of project management and coordination between different parties. Think of a building project, a large project will involve thousands of people. The design of the building will have been completed by many engineers and architects, working in different offices, perhaps in different parts of the world. Being exposed to the coordination and methodologies needed to keep that group of people moving in the same direction is very valuable and it's something I'm so glad I experienced as an engineer.

You also will get an extremely strong since of accomplishment and pride knowing that you played a part in constructing something physical that will stand for a long period of time. One of my largest projects is located very prominently on a busy square in Philadelphia, PA USA. For the rest of my life, I'll be able to look up at that building and know that I made it stand there and I designed it. That's a very unique feeling and it's something not many people get to feel.

Now the cons:

As I said, I left design engineering, so I definitely can speak to the negatives of the field. Someone working in the field can have a very narrow focus, especially at the start of their career. For example, an entry level architect isn't going to be designing a skyscraper, they are going to be laying out the bathroom fixtures and making sure the types of doors are correctly defined through the building. Even as someone more senior, my engineering focus was specifically centered on making a building stand up. I didn't plan at all how the building would be laid out, I didn't care how people would live and work in the building. If you want a big picture focus, architecture or engineering might not be the best field. I worked on a wide variety of projects so I got a nice variety over someone specialized who say might only work on bridge designs. But even then, I was ready to move on and dive into bigger issues.

Also, while I don't think many people will talk about it, I had some issues with the financial rewards in the industry. I took an extremely large amount of personal liability in being a registered engineer, and to be honest in my mind, the financial compensation I was receiving was not worth that liability. Now, I will say that I worked through the height of the financial crisis ten years ago, and that created unprecedented issues in the industry. I would never say to not go into a field because of the level of compensation, but you should do your homework, ask questions and think about where you want to be.

Overall, I think it's a great career choice. It will give you core abilities and experiences that not many other careers will give you. You'll be a stronger person, whether you stay in the industry or move on to do something else.

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G. Mark’s Answer

For me personally, there were no cons. My interests span a lot of areas, and engineering was and is the best way to "scratch that itch", so to speak. It offers opportunities to not only investigate and learn about new technologies as well as use those technologies. The chance to be creative is unparalleled. It's essentially proof of the adage "Do for work what you would do for play and never work another day." That's not to say that engineering can't be a tremendous amount of work, but I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing. Being an inventor has always been a source of pride for me. Solving problems and making people happier and healthier and safer and more productive just can't be beat. I suppose a con for some folks might be that they simply don't enjoy it as much as I do or don't like the amount of work it requires both before graduation from school and during their career. But frankly, if engineering or architecture are your "thing", you won't be able to resist it. And you get to work with a lot of really driven, smart and creative folks. If that's the career direction for you, you'll know for sure.

Thank you so much. Honestly, everyone around me says the same thing which is basically the theory of "if it's for you it'll come to you". So yes, this fits that theory perfectly. Thanks so much again!! I A.