Should you become an architect? Is it worth it?
Architecture is not for the faint of heart. Becoming an architect is a long, arduous process and many complain about the pay and long hours even after they get their license. However, many people in the field wouldn’t consider switching to something else. Here are some pros and cons of becoming an architect.
Let’s start with the cons:
Architecture requires a long training period, comparable to professions in medicine and law. The minimum training period is 8 years, which includes a 5-year bachelor degree and 3 years of internship. If you opt for the Master of Architecture, add a year or two to the overall total. Also, IDP (Intern Development Program) is notorious for taking longer than 3 years. And then there’s the ARE (Architect Registration Exam). Hopefully you get can all 7 of these tests finished while you complete IDP, but if not, add some more time to the total.
Hours and Pay
One of the biggest complaints of architects is the pay. Its not terrible, but its much lower than other professions with similar training and licensing requirements. Salary.com puts the median income for entry-level architects just over $42,000 and the median income for a licensed architect with 12 years of experience at $113,000. Also, architecture requires long hours with lots of overtime. Even after you’re done with school, projects often require late nights as big deadlines approach.
Given current affairs, this list would not be complete without mentioning that the construction industry is very dependent on the economy. If companies are doing well and people are earning money, they want to build new offices, houses, malls, restaurants, etc. Being an architect is really great during these times. If the economy is bad, cutting capital investments will save a lot of money. This means less work for architects. Layoffs are common in architecture firms during hard times. Don’t count on job security.
Pros of becoming an architect:
Architecture is a passion
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, architecture is not for you. Your heart skips a beat when you find a beautiful new building while you’re exploring the city. Architecture appeals to your creative side, and you get a huge amount of satisfaction from making things. Being a designer appeals to you ego–you get to decide exactly how things will be according to your vision. You love being able to control every detail and make it perfect.
You won’t get bored
Architecture is a very dynamic field, with constantly changing trends and technologies. Although this means you have to do a lot of professional development to stay current, it also means that you will always be learning. Every project you tackle is different and you will constantly find new challenges. Even within individual projects, there are a variety of things you will be doing from day-to-day. One day you might be meeting with clients and working on design, while other days you’ll be visiting construction sites or researching materials.
You’re making a difference
Sure, you’re not making world peace, but what you do as an architect really matters. You’re making safe, healthy environments for people to live and work in. What you do can improve quality of life and human experience. You also have the responsibility to make sure that your buildings work and are structurally sound. Yes it’s a lot of pressure, but isn’t that the case with all things that are worth doing?