Do you want to be an Architect?

A few years ago I started a series of posts that were directed towards people who had an interest in either becoming an architect or now that they had finished school … what happens next? The intent when I started this series was to create a depository of answers to questions that people tended to email me – thinking I could just refer people to the post on the subject rather than having to recreate the answer over and over again. These posts have been created over a two-year period and I discovered that some people who wanted this information still couldn’t find it and I still found myself back where I started. Hopefully now that I have created a single page that will contain all of the posts that fall into the category of “Do you want to be an Architect” I can accomplish my original goal of the blind leading the blind.

What this page will not contain (because it seems to change with remarkable regularity) is anything to do with the act or process of getting licensed, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), Intern Development Program (IDP), or what college you should consider attending. Those things have to many moving parts to consider and (wah-wahhhhh) since I have been licensed for a while now, I don’t keep up with the changes.

If there is a topic you think you would like me to address, please feel free to send your suggestions to me – bob@lifeofanarchitect.com

In the meantime, I hope that this is a resource for those of you looking for some answers.

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Do you want to be an Architect?

It takes a lot of commitment and desire to become an architect. Nobody becomes an architect because they think it sounds cool or they like to draw. There is a lot more to it and I think it needs to be a calling for you to even think you will experience any measurable success. Do you think you have what it takes to be an architect?

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 The College Years 

When I tell people who I knew I wanted to be an architect by the time I was 5 years old, they think how lucky that must have been! But am I really so lucky? There was a time when I thought I had made a terrible decision, and I found myself struggling with the classes and the time and effort required to just to keep pace with my peers. (but I think this story has a happy ending)

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Design Studio: Top 10 Things you should know

Architecture school is all about the studio. Whether you are new to design studio or a seasoned pro, there are a few things that I thought I would share with all you that dispel some commonly accepted ideas of what architecture studio really requires from its attendees. I think you might be surprised to read a few things on this list but I promise that you will be better off for having read this list.

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What makes you a designer Bridge Section CAD Detail

What makes you a designer?

As a practicing architect. not everything I do is big picture design. From the overall time I spend working in the office, very little is – but good architecture isn’t always about the big killer idea. I consider coordinating a project and the details of the construction of that project integral to a successful design.

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Handrail Bracket Sketch Detail

Drawing like an Architect

I am living proof that you don’t have to draw well to be an architect. Having the ability to draw beautiful pictures doesn’t hurt but let’s pull the curtain back and be honest here for a minute … Architects communicate through their drawings – we aren’t making art. As architect Lou Kahn once famously said, “an artist can make a cart with square wheels, but an architect can’t.”

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money

How much money does an architect make?

Architects can make a great living but there is balance between money and happiness that must be found. This post contains a snapshot of some of the best places to work and what areas of the country pay the highest salary for architects. Before anybody starts whining and moaning about how architects are underpaid, let me tell you now that I don’t want to hear it. Teachers are underpaid.

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The ‘Not so Sexy Side to Architecture’

There is a reality check coming for most graduating architecture students. Practicing architecture for 99.9% of the architects out there means something other than designing – at least what you might typically think design really means. The practice of architecture is more than sketching on trace paper, parti diagrams, deciding what pens to draw with, groupies, and last-minute trips to Vegas with the client. It means solving problems – sometimes incredibly mundane and uninspired – yet very important problems to the people who retain your services.

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architectural and engineering scales

An Architect’s Tool Bag

To be an architect you must have specific tools to get the job done. Here is a look at the ones I use most often. Some (but not all) are clearly throw-backs tools that reflect the fact that I graduated from architecture school 20 years ago. Despite the fact that I am pretty good at AutoCAD, I didn’t put it on my list of tools. If I had made my list a little longer it probably would have showed up.

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Architectural Interns

Here are some unique insights into how an architecture student can rise to the top of a pile of resumes and get that coveted architectural intern position. I also share with you the most abrasive and shocking story from my first day on the job at my first intern position. It’s Cuh ra zee! If we ever meet in person, you can buy me a beer and I’ll tell you who Boss #2 is from the story.

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So there you go – the first collection of articles geared towards architecture students, architectural interns, and people interested in the process of what it takes to become an architect.  I will be setting this post up as a permanent page at the top of my site and will be adding posts to it as I see fit (which means when I actually write them). LIke I said in the beginning, this is supposed to be a resource for people so if you see a topic missing that you would like to see my thoughts on the subject are, just send me an email – bob@lifeofanarchitect.com

Cheers.

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  • Nikki

    Hi Bob! i’m happy I found something about architect! I came of interested because I’ve grew up admiring houses and buildings that I saw as the most beautiful thing people built and designed so incredible and I’ve always thought about designing my own someday as a dream but now that I’ve come of age to decide what career i’d like to go into I didn’t really get the answer I was looking for in your article. Do I sound like this could career could be of something for me? What is an Architect’s demand at work? what do architect’s clients or projects like? Does an Architect design about anything or one thing?

  • Keirath

    Hi, I am in high school in my junior year and was thinking on becoming an architect. As a child, I loved to draw amdin times I would draw how my future house would look like or the interior based on inspiration. However, I am not the smartest when it comes to math or physics. I like math, I can find a pattern myself and solve a problem when I didn’t understand a lesson… But even so, I don’t consider myself the brightest in math. I like to draw, and in practice my art seems decent, but unlike my childhood years, I (as for now) can’t visualize buildings to come up with new and better ideas. I think mostly interior design which I think of minor in, and love to see pictures of interior decor before and after and think of little ways to improve my room.

    My question for you is that, can I become a good architect? If I can’t visualize building now to design, can it comes from experience just like other subjects such as math and physics? I hear that is a long hour in office, so I worty that I won’t have time for social and family time or hobbies that I like to do. I understand that one has to have good communication skills, but I am more of a quiet-introvert-private person, I mean, I can express my ideas, but doesit comes any sort of trouble?

  • GraphicDesinger{Trying!}

    hey I cant draw very well and im not great at maths of course im only 13 but ive worked with my brothers friends hes 15 and is a graffiti artist. He said he wanted something fresh and new looking so I practise my Graphic Design alot but I put my drawings into my graphic Design and he said it looked really good. But i have more thoughts of becoming a Visual Architect as my drawing arent the strongest. Anyone have any tips for Visual Architect?

  • thenoob

    i wasn’t good at math and science back in my high school days,i hate it but i am highly interested in learning although i know it will surely deliver pains on every nerves in my brain..should i take up architecture despite of being a noob?what do you think?-_-

  • enxrgy

    Hello, I am looking into architecture because I want to have an outlet for my ideas.

    The thing is, I was going to go into theoretical physics… I spend about 8 hours a day on independent study of the subjects of my choosing (theosophy, quantum physics, mathematics, certain types of artistic endeavors, and pretty much any book I can get my hands on) and I don’t want to give that up and devote my life to chasing one theory or another, as My main idea, My main goal, is the development of a new way to learn. I have spent countless hours doing what I love, and I don’t want to give that up. I love research. I love reading, writing, drawing diagrams I see, and adding to them.

    My question is… Because I love the objective thought, and worship the metaphysical aspects of our reality (pardon my use of shitty buzzwords here) but refuse to watch it be crushed by the will of any professor of physics or any other subject I delve into, really, while I am more than willing to spend hour after hour learning about it on my own… Is Architecture a good outlet for my dreams?

    Please keep in mind, I know very little to nothing about the subject. The reason I have turned to it as an option is because I read a book called The Poetics Of Space. It made me think.
    Thank you.

  • Keith

    Hello, I just turned 26 and have been doing alot of medial work and prior military. Do you think I would still be able to get my foot into the door of the architectural world starting school this late(Just started attending college for the first time)? Reading your articles was very intresting but hearing about the internship thing kinda scares me.

  • L_Burns

    Hi, I am only 13 but I so badly want to become an architect, I am wanting to study now and become very good for the future. Is math a vital part of architecture and if so what are very important subjects to study or improve on? thanks

  • jawad ali shah

    whats the essential things to consider for an architect to be successful in their career ?

  • aj

    I am not good at drawing but am pretty decent with math and physics. Is architecture a suitable line for people like me?

  • Joachim

    Hi Bob. I’m currently applying for Architecture School back here in norway, the school im applying to is an alternative school of architecture. Im quite good at drawing/painting(aquarelle) and i have built a portofolio. Also im already educated as a Visual Merchandiser and gratueted as best in my class. Im very diffrent from my friends (taking my age in consideration im 22). I base my belif on anthroposophy because of the connection to nature. My problem is that the only thing the school is looking at is my application(a letter describing who i am) and they dont want to look at my portofolio. Im rly good at drawing both free-hand and in digital programs. I dont want to study to become an an architect but i want to study architecture to get the knowledge and to be able to work as an architecture. Im rly sorry for my poor english ! Regards! Also i applied for a school i Oslo(Retail Design) last year i did get in even though its almost impossible but i turned the school down because my passion is the architecture

  • Fio-CS

    i can’t really draw, i don’t really like physics or math either..but i can draw a little and i think i’m quite good at counting..and i want to study something that combine those two, so is architecture is a good decision? for information, ii really like music, art and that kind of things, but i’m better at calculating, so i thought that architecture is the best option…. give me you opinion :D thanks

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      based on that description, I’m not sure this is the thing for you. Drawing is important, math and physics don’t really matter but you need to have the brain power to get through the course work, and most people like music so that doesn’t really tell you anything. Seems like you need to spend some time thinking on this a bit more.

  • Ali Yasin

    Hello bob I’m don’t really know what to study next yr for uni and thought architect was for as I really have an interest in builds furthermore the beauty so why do u thing I should do

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Take a sketching class -

  • Rowan

    Hey Bob, love the article!
    Do you think I will be able to succeed in Architecture – I took advanced maths in grade 11 but (although I didn’t find it too difficult) I dropped it. I still study art and am really fascinated in architectural styles.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      not a whole lot of information to make an assessment so I am going to go positive and say “Absolutely!” Architecture as a career (for most) is a fulfillment of their passion, not just a way to collect a paycheck … would you describe yourself in this manner?

  • Lalaine Andrea Badong

    Hi, Mr. Bob Borson! I’m currently in 4th year, taking up Architecture, and I just want to thank you for the amazing things you have shared through the years. I learned so much and realized how important it is for me to continue the course I chose after so many obstacles and sleepless nights that I have encountered. Also, I am a wanna-be writer, and I admire you for doing these stuff simultaneously. I hope someday I can be successful just like you. God bless you and keep writing! =)

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks – I appreciate the encouragement. Best of luck moving forward in your studies

  • sam

    I really like biology.can I take my main subject as bio in my class 11 and go on to become an architect ??

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I don’t see why not.

  • Анужин Төмөрбаатар

    Im16 years old and I live In Mongolia.Next year I will be graduating highschool . Our sole is different from other countries and someone said if I want to work in Mongolia I have to study here. Is it true? and I really want to study in other country but I can`t afford much. Is it possible to study in London and what do I need to learn to become an architect?andEnglish isn`t our native language so I`m not sure if I would understand my teacher perfectly. I`m not very good at physics but I love math. Can I become an architect? please I really need someone`s advice pls

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      This is a very specific sort of question and I will admit that I don’t know anything about the schooling process in Mongolia. Maybe someone here on the site will read your question and be able to help.

      • Анужин Төмөрбаатар

        Could you please tell me what do I need to learn to have a scholarship? what do I need to learn to become a best architect

  • Penny

    My son wants to be an architect and will be a freshman in high school next year. Should he take an art class or computer class, he has to pick one or the other. Art 1 or Computer 1. He is taking Architect Class 1 also but no computers involved there that I know of.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Art

  • Cedie Cedie

    As i read this , I’m feeling the not-so-good thingy. What does it takes to become an architect ? What do architects do ? How much time wil it take? Architecture is one of my option. Reply please. And one thing , do architecture really need math ?badly?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      This site is geared towards answering all those sorts of questions – case in point:

      Math – go here http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/architecture-and-math/

      All the other stuff, just use the search box on the upper right hand side of the screen and search for topics. Chances are pretty good that I’ve addressed it in an article.

      Best of luck

  • Annebana Bien

    I am really fascinated to draw and create buildings especially houses and rooms inside the house…

  • Annebana Bien

    Hi i’m 18 years old-girl taking up education major in math but I’d like to be an architect also someday…is it hard to study that course? and is it expensive?

    • jcoo10

      It is hard to study (currently enrolled in an architect program) you have studio which takes up a lot of your time with model making, drawings, critical thinking. There are other courses that are needed such as construction practices, structures, and building systems that are required for a bachelor’s degree

  • ArtsyArchitect414

    What would you have to consider to build a house? As far as an individual’s and family’s needs ?

  • ArtsyAtchitect414

    What things do you have to consider when building a house? Specifically?

  • Dude

    hey bob , im 17 from malaysia im currently doing malaysian O-Level , i’m really interested in the architecture course , im a guy who slacks off oftenly , will i be able to cope with the projects in university , i dont have any art background too , is it recommanable for me to still take the architecture path ?

    • hanna

      hi, i’m replying instead. I’m from Malaysia too, 24 and recently finished my part 1 in architecture and about to continue to part 2. For my spm, i dont have any art background although it is recommended if you want to go to public university. if you are interested in architecture, go and meet the students at any university, have a chat, see their works, ( there are architecture workshops that shows final year works and are open to public, just ask the university) then only you will understand more?. art doesnt matter cos you will have time to practice for sketching and other skills required but you have to practice. will you be able to cope? well. throughout my study days, there are days when i really love what i do, and there are days where im crying my eyeballs out and just trying to get through the day, wanting it to end, had a really bad presentation day and questioned myself why did i choose this path. but the whole process repeats. sort of hate and love thing? but yes, i would do it all over again. everyone gonna struggle at one point, in any other path. its when you give up after a struggle, then it is not your path. you can always change your path later on, it is never too late or too wrong.