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 –

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



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?



 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)



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.



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.



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.”




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.



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.



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.



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.



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 –




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  • Hafiz Muhammad Usman Naeem

    CAN A PREMEDICAL STUDENT could able to do Bachelor in
    architecture desinging??

    • Bob Borson


  • Joy ling

    this sounds like fun!

  • Oliver

    Hi Bob, I’m a business student in Santa Barbara, CA and I am a year away from graduating but I have always wanted to work in the field of Architecture somehow. What would you recommend if I wanted to start over after Im done with business and peruse a career in Architecture and where would I go in order to learn most and find my way into it? Is there any good ways to combine the two? I am destined to know.

  • David

    Hey Bob, I have Question what if there is a school that is for Science Technology Engineering and Math… will that help me in any way if I go to that school -David

    • Bob Borson

      sure. Anything that helps develop your brain and the way you process information will be of some benefit. Will those (STEM) classes specifically help you in your quest? Probably the engineering ones but you don’t really need that level of math or engineering once you graduate architecture and start practice. It’s more of a way of gauging how your brain and process higher level problems. Architecture school – and college in general – is about learning how to learn. You don’t go to learn how to do a specific thing, more than likely, you will be solving problems that don’t exist yet.

  • Lina

    Hey Bob, Im an architecture student and my university has so many elective courses but i want to take what would help me in my career life so beside the Autocad and 3dmax , should i go for Maxon, FormZ or Archicad?

  • Derek

    Hey Bob!
    I’m a 16 year old , kinda confused about what career i should pursue. My gut feeling says go with Architecture but my parents arent quite convinced. Can you shed some light on Architecture as a job. (P.S I can draw and Im good at math, so is there any other career other than architecture)—————————-Derek

    • Flo

      Construction Management!

  • walter


  • jane

    i wanna know whether architecture is really hard like how they say it is ,since I wanna study it I am concerned about the difficulty and whether I can do it or not ,advice bob?

    • Bob Borson

      it is hard – but not mentally taxing. Most of the challenges come as a test to your dedication. It is a time intensive degree – but how many degrees can you wear headphones and listen to music while you are doing your school work?

  • CrazyAboutArch

    Hi Everyone. I have done my BBA (Honors), majoring in Finance. Is there a shortcut that I can take to becoming an architect? A way in which I can avoid the 5 years of Undergraduate study and still be an architect?

    • Da kool kid

      No. The easy way isn’t always the best way.

  • Akshar Choudhary

    hey bob ! I repeat ,
    I am a student of class 7 in India and i wanted to know, is the study of architecture engineering difficult?

  • Dhriti

    Thanx , but my main concern is that will not being a physics student affect my profession as an architect ?

    • Bob Borson

      see below

  • Akshar Choudhary

    hey Bob ! I am a student of class 7 in India and i wanted to know, is the study of architecture engineering difficult?

    please reply

  • Akshar Choudhary

    hey Bob ! I am a student of class 7 in India and i wanted to know, is the study of architecture engineering difficult

  • Dhriti

    hi bob! Is physics necessary as a subject for a course in architecture ?

    • Bob Borson

      Typically it is but I would imagine it varies by school and by program (two things that I don’t talk about on this site since I went to school so long ago and I don’t keep up with what colleges are doing these days)

      • Dhriti

        Thanx , but my main concern is that will not being a physics student affect my profession as an architect ?

        • CrazyAboutArch

          No it wont, You should have had maths though.

          • Dhriti

            yeah that i do . Thanxx

        • Bob Borson

          no, it won’t play a role in an architectural career

          • dhriti


    • Flo

      Yes, but, it is not as bad as you think. In fact, it is very interesting…

  • John

    Hi I am considering going back to school for my masters in architecture after being out out college for almost 30 years. I currently work as an accountant and have wanted to be an architect for as far back as I can remember, but was steered in a different carrier path by my parents who thought it best to go to business school. My main concern is I am unsure; in a field with a small job market am I setting my self up for disappointment coming out of a program in my 50’s as opposed to my 20’s? Thanks

    • Bob Borson

      Truthfully? Yes. Probably. Maybe. Who knows. I don’t know you and you could be the most dynamic awesome architect that has ever walked the face of this planet BUT you will be competing for the same job as someone in their mid-20’s who most likely doesn’t have the same life demands that you have. I don’t think your challenges (real or perceived) are unique to architecture, just to anybody coming out of school to start a second career in their 50’s.

      If you can pay for it and it’s what you’ve always wanted to do, who am I to tell you to not pursue your dream?

  • Bill

    Hi my name is bill and I’m 15 years old I’m in year 10 and I’m thinking about being a architect. I’m a decent drawer but I have no idea where to start with my career in architecture and I need help with that. Thanks

  • Heidi

    Go for your dreams Holly!

  • Holly McCleary

    I’m in a period of transition at the moment. Having 60 credits at a community college and working a full-time job, it appears that I will be needing to make some major changes. This really does open my eyes to the world of Architecture. I have only recently decided I want to be one, but it seems as though my mother does not support me. (I know this is the “I don’t care” part.

    Basically, I want to be an architect, but every time I put my mind to something and focus on that one career, my mom tends to ruin my plans with one comment.

    What I am asking is, is Architecture worth it? And how do you know if the career is a good fit?

    After having read this specific article, I am beginning to realize that I may have found something for me.

    Only thing is, how can I make this work when I am working a full-time job? Should I quit? Or should I work at a part-time job? It seems as though the classes demand a lot of time.

  • Heidi

    By the way im in sixth grade

  • Heidi

    Hi, umm…. Im really young and my dad says I should be a building engineer, but ive wanted to be an architect for a longer time than a building engineer. Should I be a building engineer or an architect?

    • Bob Borson

      Your interests and predilections will most likely change by the time you need to go to college – why do you have to have this figured out in 6th grade? While I always thought I wanted to be an architect starting around age 5, I didn’t actually do anything about it until the end of my junior year in high school. I know things have changed and college entrance is much more demanding, but how can you really have a good feel for what you need to become at your age … you are only now getting a sense of who you are as a person.

  • K

    Hello im K. And im a graduating high school student from PH. And ever since I was in my freshmen year, becoming an architect interests me. And that I want to grow up having that kind of work. But I am not good in math seriously. I easily forget them, i always go to the front just bc i want to be good in math i can answer but i dont trust my answers sometimes. Still im not confident. And im not even good in drawing. Just a hobby. Or even coloring and shading. It bothers me because im graduating and I don’t know whether to change plans or not. People tell me that I can do it because, it’s my dream. But what if it doesn’t really work that way you have to be too good at it or just good. But im not. And what im holding know is that ‘that is why i go there to learn’. But what if going to a specific course is just a training ground to those who has it.

    • Christine

      Hi K – I’ve been out of school for almost 5 years, and working at a firm for about 4 of those. And if it’s one thing that I cannot emphasize enough is that school does not prepare you for life as an architect, nor does success in school correlate to success in the real world. Aptitude and talent are great, and intelligence to a certain degree is definitely necessary, but don’t automatically think that not being great at math or drawing will mean you are a poor architect. Nothing will get you farther than dedication. So if you really want it, here’s my advice: practice. Practice a lot. Not good at drawing? Keep a sketchbook, and spend 15-20 mins a day drawing something.

      Learning to be an architect is a long and slow process, and a labor of love. I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. So if it’s what you want, know that improvement is gained by doing little things consistently, not by a Herculean one-time effort, and dedicate yourself to the small habits that will help you improve. And find a mentor – those are invaluable. I wish you the best of luck. And if you don’t think it’s meant to be, don’t feel guilty about wanting to change paths. Many do, and are still happy for it.

    • p


      I’m an architecture student
      from PH! And i just wanted to share my story to you considering I used to have
      the same concern as you when I was in high school.

      Ever since I was young, I only have one thing set on my mind
      and that is to become an architect. My dad is also one and I grew up tagging
      along with him at his job site. I will go back there all the time and for a young
      child it was so magical for me to see lumps of dirt turn into beautiful
      structures over time. From then on I have made up my mind that I’m going to be
      like my dad and that I NEED to become an architect.

      Then high school came and I realized I didn’t really have
      the “talent” to become one, my drawing skill can only rival with a 3 year old
      and my math skill is an even more depressing topic. Even the guidance counselor
      from my high school back then told me that taking up architecture isn’t really
      advisable for me considering that it is not where my expertise lies. But I didn’t
      care, I fell in love with architecture long ago and I’m going to pursue it even
      though I know I’m set to travel a difficult road.

      Then I enrolled in Mapua and life just slapped me in the
      face. I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t thought it would be
      this hard. I didn’t excel in math and design so I have to put on extra effort
      so I can cope with the class. Sometimes even though I tried so hard I still
      failed. I failed so many design and math class and the only thing that kept me
      going is my desire to learn. It was SO hard to stand back up every time I fail
      and there were thousands of times I wanted to give up. But still, my love for
      architecture prevailed. I tell myself
      that it’s ok to fail many times just as long as I learn. Because I love
      architecture it’s ok I will work harder.

      So my point is that, schools are there to help us learn..
      you can develop your drawing and math skills in school if you just practice
      hard enough. The important thing is that you have the passion to do it. It will
      be hard I know, but if you REALLY love what you’re doing then it’s going to be
      worth it. Just remember that the important thing is that you’re happy with what
      you’re doing.

      • Heidi

        hi, im in sixth grade and want to know if I should go into architecture or building engineer when i grow up. My dada says I should be a building engineer, but Ive wanted to be an architech sence 4th grade. Should I be an architect or a building engineer? And do I have to be an A student in math for it and a 7/10 score drawer in my skills? -Need some advice, Heidi

        • Jackie

          architect or building engineer – these are two totally diffrent things. so it’s difficult to give you an advice.
          you should know why especially you have wanted to be an architect or an building engineer.

  • ladifta chandra

    hi mr.bob!

    I want to ask you, now I’m in eighth grade, but I’m very interested with the architect, I love to draw, count, .. and I want to learn to become an architect from now, can I learn on their own, without a teacher, just the guidebook? thank you

  • Karol Argasiński

    Hi Bob!

    I am architecture student (3rd semmester) studying in Europe/Poland. I would like to get to know is it possible for me to study my Master Degree in USA? I am struggling with figuring out, is it a problem for me, because of different ISO standards, and also if I be able to start studies there, or should I get extra-examinations, because of Europe District?

    Cheers, and have a good Sunday ;)

    • Bob Borson

      Hi Karol,

      I honestly don’t know anything about the process of coming to school in the US from another country. Since I never had to go through the process myself, I don’t know the first step. Hopefully someone else who reads through these posts could offer some insight into the process.

      Best of luck – Bob

  • Eduardo

    Sup Bob,
    I am in high school and would like to know what classes should i take to help further me.

  • Mac

    Hi Bob! I am a junior in high school and I have always had a passion for art and science. I am struggling with trying to figure out what my career path should be at this pivotal point in my life, and any insight you could provide would be truly inspiring. I started a charity last year called Brushes and Beakers, and our motto is to inspire the community through art and science. There is nothing I want more than a career that involves both art and science, and I am hoping that architecture is a good mix. Thank you for your time.

  • Luis Fernando Cruz Ruesta

    Hey Bob, Look i like the drawings and maybe I don’t be a good drawer but you know I know basic. But that thing I have like my support is the Creativity, that’s my support when I started to drawing. Now I was in my last year High School and I thought it;s better choice Architecture than other. I need you point of view ” you I need you know what you think or what can i do. ? I hopefully your answer

  • Swetha

    Hi Bob! I’m currently in high school, senior year. I am not very creative and I don’t draw. Can I still go for architecture? Will it be difficult for me?

  • Roshan

    Hey Bob, I’m a second year Science student studying Biology and Chemistry – the two subjects I’ve always been best at. I love architecture, i love looking at old and modern buildings and I follow all the current projects being proposed and built in my hometown of Halifax. Part of me wants to go into Architecture when I have the opportunity but like others have said, I’m not great at drawing, and my design skills could use some touching up – not that I ever really have a reason to draw stuff or use Google Sketchup etc. – but can one go into architecture being a complete beginner and end up being successful?

    • Brittanie

      Wow! I am in the exact same predicament! I am currently a Bio Major and am in the process of switching schools and my major to architecture, but I am terrified that because I am not a “drawer” that I will not succeed.

  • Derick Passram

    Hi Bob, just found your blog and read a few posts and they all are pretty interesting. Thinking about applying to an architectural school of some sort. I find inspiration in the most random things and I have fun with a lot of contemporary styling. I guess I can be considered one of those kids that randomly picked up a 3d modeling software and started modeling away LOL. Over the years since middle school (currently a senior in high school) I’ve built up my modeling skills and whatnot. And as of recently, my dad gave me the measurements and restrictions of a small 750sq ft apartment and basically told me to redesign the whole thing with the dimensions being my only limitation. So I whipped up a neat modern one-bedroom space and it came out pretty nice. My dad looked through some of the models I’ve done and suggested that I should probably look into architectural engineering of some sort. So I gave it a thought and I feel like it would fit me. I’m super creative and I was wondering if you knew anyone or any other architect who just comes up with the craziest ideas but somehow it works and looks amazing at the end of the day. I really like the whole planning/problem solving stages of a project. Thanks!

  • Scott E.A. Davis

    To succeed in this career you have to be smart, live well for long periods of time without money, creative, talented, learn quickly and be your own best friend and moral supporter. You must learn how to deal nicely with really bad people that want to steal your thunder, act like your boss, are actually your boss or you pick as clients. The best part of this career will be the life long friends you will make.

  • Rubi

    Hi I Bob I would like to know if to become an architect you have to be really good at math. I’m currently a junior in HighSchool lets say precalc is kicking my butt.

    • Bob Borson

      You have to be decent at math – but once you get through it in college there isn’t a lot of daily math being used that exceeds addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I only got as far as Algebra 2 in High School and I did what I needed to do in college – so will you.

  • Mrudhulaa

    i would like to know if being very creative is necessary to become an architectural engineer.. I am pretty good at math and physics though.

    • Bob Borson

      it doesn’t hurt but I think you can have a fine career in the architectural industry if you are not particularly creative – there are a lot of jobs in the field that do not require creativity.

  • amanda

    hi bob,
    im 20 and im currently in the 2nd semester of my masters program in architecture. i knew i wanted to be an architect for as long as i can remember which is credited to the fact that my dad is a practicing architect. all through my undergraduate years i had more highs than lows. people always had great opinions of me, everyone thought i was really good at designing, i had a lot of motivation, a lot of dilligence and i was very hardworking and i believed it too. but toward the end, things got really hard and i started loosing motivation to work. my final studio in my undergraduate year, i barely finished it : incomplete floor plans, no elevations, incomplete sections, no model and loads of preliminary sheets. during the summer break, i tried thinking of other careers i could pursue but nothing was coming to mind, all my thoughts and ambitions were geared toward architecture and design so i decided that i would continue with a masters in architecture. im finally here and i feel the way i felt then. i know that im a very creative person and i could really prosper in this field but right now i feel like this isnt where i want to be. i read your post on “should i be an architect?” and there are so many things we have in common so i know that i can and i should be an architect but i need help. i need something more than motivation. what do i do?

  • shradha

    hi bob,
    I am an Architect-Planner,i am currently working in a planning company and also taking up some private residential projects.I am really interested in interior projects but it isnt easy to get projects to work on.I have got an opportunity to teach in a very well reputed architecture institute…I wanted to know that is teaching good for my carrer…?

    • Bob Borson

      Do you want to teach? Is it the only thing you are doing or just a part of your overall duties?
      I think teaching can be a wonderful addition to your skill set – it keeps you engaged in emerging thoughts and technology’s AND you have to work to keep up with your students. I don’t see a downside to teaching except if that’s all you are doing and it’s not all you want to do.

  • Ellis Rushford

    Hi Bob,
    Would acquiring an associates degree in architecture technology and getting your foot in the door at a firm be beneficial, or even possible in the US job market??

  • Inna

    Hi Bob,
    I am 16 and I am doing A level program next year. The idea of being an architect has visited me only recently, as my father suggested it. The problem is, I’m not sure what exactly architects are doing, how they work, and their lifestyle in general. I can draw a bit; my drawings sometimes can be really nice, although I am not an artist. To be honest, I am not the most creative person, sometimes I can’t come up with anything creative at all. But I do actually like maths and physics, and I always succeed in these subjects. Could you give me an advice? Also, I’m a girl and I heard some people saying this job is more for males.

  • Anna

    Hi Bob, I’m sixteen and so I’ll have to pick a college/university in a year and a half. I’ve loved art and drawing all my life and admired architecture… But it wasn’t until last year when my mom mentioned it, and I did 2 weeks work experience in an architecture school that I started to seriously consider architecture. I thought it was really cool, but if I lived in,say, a communist country, where everyone was paid the same, I’d pick art over architecture. Do you think it’d be wise to go into architecture when you’d rather be doing something else? I need to be able to support myself when I’m older so I’m unsure about art college.

    • Bob Borson

      I’m not going to tell you that you should pick architecture over art – you could become the world’s artist! Follow your heart – you are young enough to go into something and make a course correction if you discover that you’ve made the wrong decision.

      • Heidi

        My sister is going into grafic design, she loves art and seems to be enjoying it. Even if her grades arnt too good! I really want to be an architect when I grow up, but im wondering if you have to be good at drawing? Compared to my sisters drawings whe she was my age, she was already a professional!

  • Zak

    Dear Bob, I’m in my first year of A Levels (17 y.o.) and have been thinking about taking architecture for the last year or two. I’m taking a ‘Design Technology’ course which requires me to do a fair deal of architectural as well as product and graphical design. I did very well for two architecturally related projects last year but have realised that now the time has come for me to start a couple of new projects, I’m running out of ideas. Does this mean I’m lacking the creativity required for architecture? Do you recommend that I continue pursuing architecture even though I have lost a lot of the enjoyment that I used to have when designing things? -I have started to simply copy designs found in books and on the internet. What sort of things could be taught? and what things must come naturally?

    I did a week of work experience in a large architectural firm where I witnessed what it’s like to be an architect (which I already had some exposure to since my parents run a joint architectural firm) but wasn’t given any design tasks. How much of life as an architect is boring, repetitive office work and how much of it is fun and varied from day to day?

    I look forward to your reply,

    • Bob Borson

      Your parents run a joint architectural firm and you’re asking me for advice?

      My life is almost never boring and since there is so much to continuously learn, rarely repetitive. It’s not necessarily like that for everyone and at 17 years old, I think that it might be a little premature to think that you’ve run out of ideas – you sound more unmotivated. Maybe the classes you are taking aren’t challenging you enough, maybe you are distracted with all the other things a normal 17 year old should be doing – there could be a million things. The architect I am today barely resembles the architect I was 15 years ago, not to mention 30 years ago when I was 17.

      • Zak

        Thanks. Have there been any methods you’ve used over the years to boost your motivation towards a certain activity? I know its quite a vague question but maybe there are some tips/tricks you have..? I don’t really think that I need to be given a greater quantity/higher difficulty for the work I’m doing to make me enjoy it more but I agree with your point about lacking motivation. I’m currently having trouble coming up with designs for a project where I chose to design an emergency aid shelter, mainly because whenever I find a design that someone has done, I just think of all the reasons it can’t be done. Because of this I’ve only come up with about a page and a half of barely descent designs over the past 2 weeks and I’m constantly procrastinating the design process.

        • Bob Borson

          no tips or tricks really – there are things I do every day that I can’t stand but that certainly isn’t unique to the field of architecture. The closest thing I have to a personal motivator is this: Every time I think I’m doing some task I don’t like, I tell myself that this is just part of what it means to be an architect. If you want to be good at something, it means you need to take on all charges associated with that task with the same veracity.

  • Alexis

    hello I’m Dominican and I exercised architecture in USA I have understood that I EESA examine me but my question is when do I prove my title I have the same employment opportunities and privileges that a person who obtained his degree in usa? or I should be the master’s degree in architecture what do I do? something extra: I got my degree in a good university in my country and in Latin America, my grades were good

  • brianna

    I would like to be a architect I am good at math and it looks fun I got inspired by watching shows on TV like fixer uppers

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  • shradha arun

    its not necessary that you should be good in maths to be an architect…..To be an architect means being more creative and flooding with different ideas.