Your current career path may be a mistake, here’s why: It takes time to know what you love, and even more time to know what you’re willing to love for the next 30 to 40 years. A career is a commitment—and we usually commit to the wrong thing, realizing when it seems too late to take a u-turn. But maybe it’s not too late…
No matter what you set out to do in the world, choosing a career path should be an exercise in contemplating what’s happening in your life today, and where you hope to be in the near and distant future. While this can be a little intimidating, it’s an essential factor when it comes to choosing a career that is going to not only last, but flourish over time.
Architecture is no exception to the career rules and isn’t a field that can be entered into lightly without understanding the work and cost that goes into such a profession. A field built on equal parts brainpower, creativity and dedication, architecture requires those who are in it for the long haul. While it can be fun to imagine building spectacular towers and dazzling bridges, architects don’t begin designing the worlds’ tallest and greatest structures from day one.
But if you have the heart, mind and passion to take on a highly competitive and creative field—you might just want to consider an architecture career. Read here to discover if a career in architecture is right for you:
What Sort of Architect Shall You Be?
When it comes to architecture, there is not just one field of study. Rather, a career in architecture offers a suite of multidisciplinary options to choose from. For instance, do you prefer to work outdoors? Do you love nature and designing natural areas? Then perhaps the field of landscape architecture is fitting for you.
Some of the other architectural career disciplines include, but are not limited to, building, software and naval design— It truly depends on where your passion and skills lie. Here is the tricky part—architects must have a massive skill-set; one that requires equal parts creative and mathematical skills. This is a tough combination that not many of us have.
We suggest that you research into all the possible avenues that an architectural career can take before deciding upon the perfect fit for you. Look into the skills that are required for each type of architect and compare them to your strengths/weaknesses.
However, we do warn you that if you don’t have the strong combination of creativity and mathematics that is required, then you may have a tough time breaking into this field of study. But those who succeed try, try again, right?
Willingness to Invest in the Education
Much like any other highly professional field, architecture is a field of experts requiring significant education and experience. Before pen is ever laid to paper in the hopes of designing the next big building, the education behind the profession must be understood and completed.
Colleges and universities offering a bachelor’s degree in architecture are going to be your best bet when it comes to achieving the right education in this field. However, the job really starts at getting accepted into these programs. An architecture program most often requires a student to prove that throughout high school, they have excelled in mathematical studies and maybe even had some hands on experience doing a relevant internship or job shadow.
Once you’ve obtained a bachelor’s degree in architecture, the majority of architects take their education a step further and go for a master’s in the field as a way to create a competitive edge in the market. As the face of cities and architecture in general changes, an architect that wants to lead the way and succeed must be willing to continue their education throughout the span of their career.
Finally, it’s important to understand that architects must be licensed in their profession in order to practice. This means completing a set number of internship or apprenticeship hours and completing exams to prove you know your stuff.
Having a Design Vision—Thinking Ahead of the Pack
Once upon a time, architecture was a field people entered into as a way to create huge, grandiose buildings and structures that left a legacy. Today, the face of architecture is changing significantly as urban spaces continue to sprawl and concrete jungles close in around transportation systems and open spaces.
For aspiring architects, this new reality means greater competition post-education. Coming into the field of architecture isn’t a guaranteed success as space diminishes, and competition around open and potential projects intensifies. This isn’t to say that architects have little chance of succeeding, it only means that those wanting to go into the field today need to have a vision and passion for their work that can surpass heavy competition or wavering economies.
Those who become the best architects are those that can push through adversity with strength, and face competition with sheer determination.
It’s best if you know what you want from the start. For example, if you’ve set out to design functional urban spaces, keep that goal ahead of you and make educational plans that promote that goal specifically. If you are someone who wants to work toward sustainable building, make that your competitive edge right from the beginning.
Willingness to Learn and Network
With an increasingly competitive work market for architects comes the need and willingness to network. Becoming an architect is an exercise in continuous education and advancement through personal contacts.
The education of architecture doesn’t stop with a diploma. In fact, many architecture firms and companies will insist on employees taking part in continuing education courses to keep up with new techniques and design strategies. Getting special accreditations such as LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) puts you ahead of the pack. To sum it up—those who love to learn make fantastic architects because their desire for knowledge fine-tunes their craft in the field.
Similarly, those with a knack for everything social will find themselves succeeding in the world of architecture. Networking is an integral part of the business as working relationships inevitably open doors to potential projects down the line. Networking is also a great way to get in touch with prospective clients, especially if you’re setting out to do more independent work.
In addition, many architects are paired up with a mentor, whom they not only learn from initially, but collaborate with professionally throughout their career. Having a go-to person is essential in a business that thrives on cooperation. The idea of a mentor/mentee relationship in the field of architecture is extremely common, and works well for those who are geared towards teamwork.
Being OK With the Small Projects Too
While it’s important to keep those visions of grandiose structures alive and well in your architectural spirit, the best architects are those who have the flexibility and willingness to learn from the small projects too. This is important because in the beginning of your career, there’s a good chance this will be your only reality.
Starting small and working one’s way up is the best way to guarantee you’ll be ready for the extraordinary project when it finally comes your way. These smaller projects are also a great way to get to know your peers in the field, and give you time to ask questions along the way.
On a similar smaller scale, it’s important to note that not every day as an architect will be a hard-hat wearing occasion. In fact, the majority of an architect’s time is spent designing in front of a computer. There is a need for an architect to be able to balance the physical labor of the job to the mental labor, because both are equally important in this field.
Patience is a virtue in life as it is with architecture. Before you decide to enter the field, be sure to sit back and ask yourself what your true patience level is. If you’re willing to take the time it requires to really perfect your craft and learn from the greats that are out there, then a career in architecture may be right for you.
Before you decide indefinitely on architecture, sit down and actually talk with an architect. Ask the questions you need to in order to understand if this professional field is the best fit for you.
Do you dream of becoming an architect?