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What is the worst part of the career?

#architect #career-choice #architecture

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James’s Answer

I studied 10 years to become an architect, followed by 4 years working in practice before I decided it wasnt for me. Here are the top 3 reasons why I felt this way:

1. The salary was way below my expectations for the level of study I had undertaken and the hours that I worked.
2. I found the nature of project work a challenge - weeks of long hours and pressure followed by periods of trivial tasks and less impactful work between projects.
3. I slowly came to the realisation that very few people really control the design of a project. It can be hard to work on projects that you don't beleive in, or designs that erode over the duration of a project due to budget constraints, delays, other peoples agendas and so on.

In short, I couldnt see a career path in front of me that gave me purpose. So I took a sideways step and moved into software. I still work in the construction space and I still work with architects - just providing for them now, and I love it. If the above puts you off, then my suggestion would be to ask why and that should help you decide whats important to look for in a career. Same goes if you disagree with any of the above, or if they aren't obstacles for you - i still have many friends that love being architects (my wife is one!) so it can be an immensely fulfilling career. I think the key is to go in with your eyes open. For me, the study i did helped me get to where I am today so i dont regret any of it.

I hope this helps, and good luck taking your next steps.

James recommends the following next steps:

List your priorities for your career
Research how architecture stacks up against them (working hours, salaries, equal opportunities, impact, sustainability etc.) Make a decision based off that.
Speak to an architect (today) or visit a practice (in future, post COVID) and try to understand their career satisfaction
Use AIA (in the US) or RIBA (in the UK) websites to find out more about what an architect does and compare to your priorities
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Akshay’s Answer

Hi Leah,


I agree with the answers given by others. But the truth is having no work and no manager support is the worst part of anyone's career.
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Francis’s Answer

In the world of hospitality, our doors are opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
With that said, many of us are scheduled to work nights, weekends and on holidays.
At first being younger I did not want to work on the weekends and be away from family and friends
On the holidays. But as my passion for hospitality, guest services and food and beverage grew.
I begun to enjoy bringing happiness to others celebrating special occasions and festivities.
And very often increasing my income.

...

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Francis’s Answer

In the world of hospitality, our doors are opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
With that said, many of us are scheduled to work nights, weekends and on holidays.
At first being younger I did not want to work on the weekends and be away from family and friends
On the holidays. But as my passion for hospitality, guest services and food and beverage grew.
I begun to enjoy bringing happiness to others celebrating special occasions and festivities.
And very often increasing my income.

...

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Luke’s Answer

It depends on where you work. Much of this can be avoided by choosing the right employer, job or location.
The rapidly increasing level of regulation is probably the main issue. The profession is increasingly becoming more a legal profession than a design/project management profession. One of the main hassles is that regulation is no longer contained primarily to the Building Code and Zoning Code. Numerous various other documents now have to be sifted through. Lack of a single source for things like Accessibility Requirements is another issue. There are at least 4 different accessibility codes + niche requirements for certain project types.
Building construction is traditionally regulated at the local level but increasingly state and the federal governments are getting into it, adding layers of complication. Some jurisdictions stick to Building and Zoning Code but larger ones can become very complex and a hassle. This also adds lots of time to a project so you'll complete fewer projects and they'll take longer so you don't get the satisfaction of seeing stuff built as much.

Issues
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-Regulation. See above.
-Pay is mediocre. Starting salary out of school is usually right about average for graduates of the whole univ. Hard to make six-figures without being more in the business end or perhaps a very large project manager. Construction Mgmt & Engineers make more. Interior Design and Landscape Archs make less.
-Deadlines. Even at places that try not to be crazy about deadlines a lot are.
-Hours worked. Many architects will work lots of hours, but lots also work 40-45/wk
-Cyclical. Typically architecture swings higher and lower than the business cycle. Recessions are harder for architects than most but peak times are better than for most.
-Management.
-Flexible Hours. Although there is some flexibility, this is mainly a 8-5, M-Th office job. Fridays very. There are opportunities to get out of the office. If you do totally construction administration that'll be frequent but for most, it's probably on 5-10% of the hours. Architects also like to have trendy offices which often means commuting.
-Location. If you want to live somewhere with a population <50k it can be hard to find a job there. Under <300k can be challenging, especially early in your career, depending on the state. Resort destinations are typically an exception but those can be very expensive. (Like ski towns)

Usually not Issues
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-Friday's off - Firms commonly offer non-8-to-5 options like Fridays off every other week or leaving early on Friday. Some states like CA have labor regulations that discourage this though.
-Travel - it's easy to find a job w/o much travel. But if you want to travel for work you can also find those.
-Company Size - Pros and cons. The average firm I believe is around 40 employees. You can find a company of 1 or of several thousand. But there aren't many
-Moving - if you move you usually have to change jobs. There is not much remote working except in niche roles. So people can move to another location of their employer but that often doesn't happen.
-Competition from technology and cheap foreign labor. Most people think architects won't be replaced by robots and will exist as a profession long-term. There is some outsourcing for basic drafting and rendering services at much cheaper rates and often overnight but you asked about being an architect not a drafter. There is still plenty of work for drafters but your long-term job security is lesser.

If you want to be an architect know project management is the main part of what you do. There are tons of opportunities to stay a drafter or render though. There are also opportunities to get into the business side or marketing. There are many firms out there that are "Design firms" who just do the preliminary design than pass the project off to an "architect of record" who does the Design Development, Construction Docs and Construction Admin. As an architect it's easy to get into interior design but harder the other way around.

Luke recommends the following next steps:

Project Management
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Tracey’s Answer

Leah, interesting timing for this question as I think right now, I find myself very fortunate to have a career and work for a company that was able to adapt and have its employees work from home during this crisis - which will change working forever I believe. I actually can't say there is a worst part except if you want to be successful you have to work hard, sometimes even longer hours than you planned. The other worst part would be if you're in a career and there is no change and work is mundane. I am at my company 25 years and I had not planned that - but because there were many opportunities to do something different, that kept me going. Embrace change for sure!

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Syed’s Answer

Hi Leah, from my brother who works at a leading global construction company and regularly works with architects:

1. They have to deliver on drawing deadlines with intense timelines
2. To fix one feature in the building they have to constantly think about the other disciplines and coordinate
3, They have to approve and review thousands of submittals from the subcontractors and RFI (Request for Information) questions
4. Owners of properties have very high expectations and not much patience
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