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What are other careers like architecture?

Hi, I am interested in architecture. I love the idea of building things that people can experience. But I heard that architecture is a very difficult career to get into, so can you please help me think of other careers that I might like? Here are some things about me: I'm in ninth grade, my grades are pretty okay, I speak two languages, I like math class even though my math teacher is only okay, I think I am pretty good at memorizing things, I like to imagine being in amazing spaces, I use computers a lot, but don't watch television (except for so you think you can dance), and like reading fiction. I don't know if any of that will be helpful but I just want to ask in case someone has an idea for me. Thank you, Emily

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Alec’s Answer

Although I work as a software engineer, my brother is currently in Architecture so I'll speak on his behalf.

I'll preface by saying that if you like architecture you should not be too worried about getting a career in it! Yes there are not as many opportunities in architecture as some other jobs but if it is something you are passionate about then don't let that deter you. The only reason I say this is that your description of what you like is actually pretty well suited for an architect. It requires a lot of imagination to be able to design an entire building. At least on my brothers part, he reads a lot to get inspiration for buildings but also for historical significance. One thing you didn't mention is your aptitude with art; Architects spend a lot of time drawing and 3d modeling which requires a lot of artistic talent. On top of which, getting into architecture schools requires a good portfolio of artwork.

As for other jobs, here are two areas you should look into
1) Urban Planner - Urban Planners are the people who design the organization of a city or a suburb and similar areas. They would be the one who decides what area of town needs a movie theatre, or how the roads should be laid out for a neighborhood.
2) Civil Engineer - This is more the applied side of architecture. An architect will design a building and how it will look, but there needs to be an engineer to realize the design, by ensuring everything will be safe and practical as well as see through the construction. Other engineering fields (Structural Engineering for example) might also be something to look into, as most engineering fields require a lot of math knowledge.

Both of those fields actually encapsulate a whole group of careers. You can be an environmental planner, which is someone who might design the landscape for a park, or a whole slew of different engineering fields. If you're interested in computers you can look into Software Engineering too! That's what I do, it's the creation of programs that people use on their computers/smartphones/other devices.

And finally, know that going to school for architecture doesn't mean you will necessarily be an architect. My brother is very interested in the study of architecture and plans on teaching architecture. You could end up being an architectural technologist, focusing on the technology side of designing a building. Good luck!

Thank you comment icon Thank you, this was very helpful! Emily C.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the info! Andrea H.
Thank you comment icon Hi Alec! Thank you so much for the comprehensive advice you provided to Emily above! I had one follow up question I wanted to ask since you are so knowledgable about architecture & engineering: 1. How would one go about teasing our/challenging their interests in different subjects? Are there next steps one could take to decide between architecture/engineering/urban planning besides going all in on one of the two and then deciding if the career is good for them or not? Any online resources/thoughts you may have would be amazing! Thank you so much in advance. Best, David David Ohta COACH
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Ben’s Answer

Hi Emily,
Alec had some good thoughts. As someone with a career that is related to architecture (but not an architect), I thought I'd add a few more thoughts.

First, I completely agree with Alec - don't let what you heard about architecture stop you from pursuing it as a career. If you're passionate about it, work hard, and have the necessary aptitude, you can succeed in architecture. The world will always need good architects!

The architectural design profession is full of careers other than architects. I work as an acoustics consultant - I help architects to design the sound-related aspects of their buildings. Acoustics consulting is one of the smaller consulting professions, but there are many, many others: there are professional engineers (civil, mechanical, electrical, etc), there are consultants for Green Buildings (environmental sustainability), landscape architects (designers of grounds, campuses, parks, landscapes, etc.), fire code consultants, accessibility consultants (to help architects create buildings that are usable for everyone, including those with disabilities), and literally dozens of others. All of these professionals work in architectural design, but are not necessarily architects themselves.

And then once all that design work is done, someone needs to build the buildings. Construction is a very, very large field, and involves lots of professionals - not just the carpenters and welders and pipe fitters out in the field, but also construction managers and contractors. There is a wide range of professions within the construction industry that require a variety of architectural or engineering expertise that might be of interest to you. And here again, the world will always need builders!

For all of these professions, your imagination for "amazing spaces" will serve you well. Keep working hard, and follow your interests - they may take you to unexpected and exciting places.

Thank you comment icon Thank you, I wasn't aware that the field varied this much. Emily C.
Thank you comment icon This is really interesting. Thank you Teal K.