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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  • Jackie

    Hi Bob, do you think getting a few years experience in the project-management side of the construction industry (minor capital works) would be helpful for young graduates before they get stuck down the line of architecture? I am currently an entry-position in the project-management team and I’ve loved what it’s taught me about the industry so far. However, my ultimate desire is to be involved in the creative process of the industry, so I am exploring my options but I do not want to neglect my dream to be an architect… thanks!

  • https://soundcloud.com/aelhusseiny Audioarchovich!

    I am a first year student undergoing Landscape Architecture Program in Egypt. What is the most used programs in Architecture in general?

    Thank you!

  • Just

    What is the ACT score needed to be accepted into the University of Texas at Austin

  • Joel Wedi Ere

    Hii i am a high school student and a have an interest of being an architect. I already planed out what i am going to do at college and uni to be able to do that job. But i don’t know many things about architect. So i am doing a reaserch to know more about being an architect, can you tell me what it is like being an architect and all the resposibilities you have to do within the job?

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

      Hi Joel,

      This entire site is dedicated to answering your question – and as of this moment, there are almost 800 articles here for you to read through. Spend some time here and I think you will find the answers you are looking for.

      Good luck!

  • Bartosz Bernat

    Hi! I am 19 years old high school graduate from Poland, who likes to draw, likes CAD, who is an aesthete, well organized, very conscientious, who has broad interests, good social skills, need of helping others… like everything match the path of architect somehow. And I am hesitating to go to an university. Why? I would be pleased to get an answer to one question:

    what if I really do not enjoy modern architecture? I do not see real value and soul in it… ( I admire old-victorian style, traditional asian buildings etc.. )

    Thanks a lot in advance!

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

      Be the change you want to see in the world …

  • Nicoleta

    hi i really dont know what to do im in high school and i need to know what should i do for yr 10 i want to choose graphics but afraid i need to do art which one do i need and what grade for maths as im really bad at it and dont know what to do please help me decide what i need

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

      Hi Nicoleta – These are the sorts of questions that vary dramatically from region to region and school to school. Since I am in Texas – in the United States – I am definitely not the right person to give you the specific answers you would probably find useful. Have you talked with a career counselor at your school? What about contacting a potential college you might want to attend and finding out the sorts of things they like to se in their students?

  • Will

    Hi I’m a fresh man in high school and I want to be arch and I’m not sure what i do to. I’ve tried to plan out how I’m going to go about this but I don’t know what kind of grads i need to get in a good collage and what classes I should look in to. Any advic

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

      This is actually a complicated question to answer. Why don’t you pick a school that you think you might like to attend, go on to their website, and look at the requirements they have for admission? You could do this with enough schools to get a feel for what sort of requirements they have and the sort of student they attract.

  • Ruth

    Hi, I’m currently in my second year of studying a Biology major in university and I always keep doubting if I’m doing the right thing. Sometimes I get very frustrated with studying so much for Biology. I know I have an interest in animals and how the body works but I never know what career to take in it. I took Art in school and it was always a stress reliever and I loved it. I always think now what if I had gone into Architecture and if I should change my major. I’m scared to take the risk to change my major now considering I’m in my second year but I’m not sure if I’m currently doing the right thing. All I know my whole life is Biology but I always wonder if I should go into something like Architecture.

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

      before you make such a big change, why don’t you audit some courses from the architecture program at your school. It would be a far easier way to help determine if this sort of switch is right for you.

  • Erika

    Hi
    I’m a senior in high school, and I really want to study arch but my problem is that I’m bad at math and not so good at drawing either, so it looks like I’m not cut out for the job, but I really, really like this career, and I can’t see myself doing anything else than that.
    so I don’t know what to do, should I find something else or keep trying anyways.

    thanks

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

      Hi Erika –

      In case you’ve missed them, I have written a post on the necessity of math (http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/architecture-and-math/) and being able to draw (a lot on that topic but this is a good one http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/architectural-sketching/)

      I’ll summarize them both for you here. You don’t have to be great at either to be an architect, but you can’t be terrible at both either. I could guess and say that to experience success you have to have a mind that has the ability to do either of these two things (math and draw) but where most young people get crossed up is that they thing that have to be GREAT at both.

      You don’t. You can work at both of these things and become good enough that you could continue to pursue architecture if that is what you want to do. Anything worth doing is typically hard and requires effort – don’t give up before you’ve started.

  • Dylan

    Hi,

    I graduated with a B Arch this past May, but I graduated without having any sort of summer internship (worked full time at the university to help pay for school), aside from a few months of construction work renovating homes. How would I make myself marketable to firms if my resume does not show that I can work efficiently in an office environment? Do I call in a favor to take me on? Do I ask for temporary hourly wage so the risk is lower on their part?

    Thanks in advance!

    Dylan

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

      I’ve hired lots of people who came out of school with no prior architectural work experience. In fact, I would think that working full time at the University to help pay for school says quite a bit about your character.

      I would not ask for a temporary hourly wage to help lower their risk – it sends the wrong message. If you get an offer that says this is how they want to pay you during a trial employment run, that is a different matter. I would expect you to be clever enough to set some parameters on the length of such a trial run so that it doesn’t last for an unreasonable amount of time.

  • Joey Mendoza

    Hello!

    Out of all 6 universities, I was only accepted to two universities (i’ll not name them). I chose for the 3 uni’s Architecture as my first choice however I wasn’t accepted to any of those 3. I got accepted to the 2 universities that do not offer architecture so I chose business because my parents own a small business that I might take in the future.

    I’m about to give up on my dream of being an architect maybe because it’s not my destiny. In the future, I might regret this decision. I know taking business will give me more job opportunities but I felt like being an architect is my passion. Should I transfer universities if I can or stay in business? I’m in a dilemma right now? Should I give up my dream or not?

  • Isabelle Santa Maria

    This really helped me a lot!! I recently decided to take architecture as my career and wanted to know what to do first to be able to reach my goal with no problem while i’m still a sophomore at my highschool. Is there anything that i can start doing to be able to enhance more of my knowledge about being an architect and the skills that i need to become one?

  • Beka

    Hey Bob, this really helped. But I still have a question which would be: If I’m not perfect at drawing beautifully, canI still become an arch? I really love it, it’s the only job I see myself doing by expressing the beauty of every single thing.

  • Oluwatosin Bamidele

    Thank you so much for this. I’m an architectural student in my 500 level(undergraduate) from Nigeria, and I really wish i’d read something like this to prepare me back when i was a freshman. Now through experience I can relate to most of what you posted. I have big dreams regarding my future in architecture. What universities will be good for a foreign student like me to apply to for my masters degree, that isn’t overly expensive? Thanks for being helpful! :-)

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

      I don’t keep up with university’s and there costs – I left that part behind when I graduated 20+ years ago. Sorry.

      There are a lot of websites online that have lists that rank the different programs and you can then go looking for the costs associated with those schools, but as far as finding it all in one place, that sort of site doesn’t exist yet.

  • ryan

    What an interesting page, thank you for the insight. I have many of the same questions as some of the people here do, just a slightly different situation. I, too live in DFW but I drive a truck. I’ve always had this passion to become an architect but never pursued it, I’m 28 and I want to pursue my childhood dream but I have so many questions. I’ll ask just one, would architectural drafting be a good place to begin a career in architecture? I want to know what it’s like before racking up huge college bills at a private architectural school. Thank you for this page and the questions it has answered already!

  • Lydia

    I’m going to be a freshman in college for architecture next year. However, every once in a while, I start to doubt myself and feel that architecture is not the right field for me. One core problem is that I am awful at presenting. I get lots of anxiety and forget everything I plan to say as I face the rest of my class. I’m not very good at communicating and I am awkward in general. If this is my main problem, do you think I can still pursue a career in architecture? How can I overcome this issue? I do love architecture because I love math and art and turning my sketches into 3-d art, but I don’t like and I am awful at communicating D:

  • Novo

    please tell me what to choose to become an architect im in year 9 and im choosing next month

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

      year 9 of what – life? School? Since I am in the US, I am not familiar with this classification.

      I’m not sure that it matters since only you can make this determination for yourself.

  • Juan

    my recent drawing. (still working on it)

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AhmadElHusseiny Sylvesterovich

      Amazin’, Keep it up! ^-^

  • Juan

    Greetings,
    As soon as I saw this page with all this information. I thought to myself “wow this is exactly what I needed to know” But one thing I didn’t quite get was “i am 21 years old, that finished high school but didn’t have the opportunity to enter college” I have worked hard enough to save up. I registered in college now. ARCHITECTURE has always been in my mind, I like math… but I’m no the best at it. I also draw/paint and that I’m not that bad at it, I Also work in construction (framing/plumbing/remodelings.. ect..) and I have learned a lot from it. Now that i have the opportunity to go back to college i wanted to see if there any suggestions to what or how to achieve something I’ve wanted for so long.
    Thank You.

  • Cheyanne

    do you believe that architecture and interior design always end up going hand in hand? i’m starting college courses soon and everyone says it’s almost a necessity now to do both.

  • v

    “There is a lot more to it …” can you give examples???i am 14 and i really want to become an architect

  • Iset

    Do you have to be creative to become a good architect? Because I think that I don’t have enough imagination for this job, even if I imagine a design or something else I don’t think that I would be able to draw it. Would that will be an obstacle for me? (I’m at high school)