Do you really want to be an architect?
Despite having days when I really don’t feel like coming to work, I consider myself extremely lucky to do what I do for a living. Being an architect is rewarding in ways that I don’t think could be easily replicated in a different field of work. My heart goes out to anyone who is miserable in their job, regardless of what that job actually entails. If I find myself out of work, I’m not sure what I would do (other than staking out which bridge I am going to live under).
I would say I get that question a lot but it’s really phrased “Do I really want to be an architect?” but since that seems confusing (considering that I am an architect and enjoy being one, it seems like a silly questions). To help answer this particular question, I have written over 50 articles in the last 5 years that have the “Do you want to be an architect” tag on them.
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“What’s a tag?” you ask?
A tag is an organizing key word that can be used to group articles that have a similar topic or theme to them – which in theory can help someone who stumbled on to one article of interest find other, similarly related articles of interest.
Look at the picture above … I have highlighted and used a red arrow to indicate where you can find “tags”. If you look at the grouping above, you could click on:
These sorts of tags exist on most sites so if you have never taken advantage of their existence, I think it might be time to start.
So out of the 50+ posts related to being an architect, which ones are actually worth reading? I’d like to think they all are but trying to slug your way through all of them would be like reading a novella. So, in an effort to make things a bit easier, I have collected the ones here that seem to address the most often asked questions and the posts that seem to be the most insightful of the lot.
If you have ever considered going into architecture, here is a list of reasons why you should consider becoming be an architect. This was the very first “Top Ten” list I ever wrote and in some ways, this is the most important article on my site.
Some of these are personality biased but even then, this list applies to almost any job. There was a time when I hated this article and I was dismayed that I had written it altogether. This certainly paints a picture of the negative aspects to the architectural profession but most of the items on this list are not intrinsic to architecture.
I’ll let you figure out for yourself which ones I’m talking about,.
I have been an architect my whole life. 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?
Hard to believe but that’s actually me in the middle up there … what an idiot. This picture was taken in the late 1980’s so I think I might be the first architect ever with duck lips. All that notwithstanding, this is an important article for architecture students and their parents to read. It talks about the process – maybe even the realization – of what it takes to get through architecture school.
Let me say here for the 1,000th time: You don’t have to draw well to be an architect. Sure it doesn’t hurt but let’s pull the curtain back and be honest here for a minute. Architects communicate through drawing – we aren’t making art. Drawing is a skill, not a gift, and with all skills it can developed with practice. Is it worth the effort to get better?
The “Architect’s Ego” … most architects think it’s a birthright that comes with the license. If you’re a contractor, engineer or interior designer you’ve experienced it. If you’re a client – I’m here to tell you that you want it.
I wrote this post at 1:00am while sitting in a Chicago hotel because I had just receive another email from an architecture student who was frustrated that they weren’t that good of a designer and they had been in school for almost 3 whole years.
Really? Almost 3 years? I have sweaters that are older than 3 years and they aren’t very good at designing either (probably never will be if I’m being honest). What this post is really about is that it takes a while to get going as an architect … be prepared for the long game.
Do I have what it takes to be an Architect? Will I be any good at architecture if I become an architect? Will I make any money as an architect? Who knows, maybe you should check your Magic 8-Ball. If you don’t have one, this post lists the 3 main characteristics I think a person needs to have if they are to achieve success as an architect.
Do you have to be good at math to be an architect? Here is advice from 3+2+1+3 different architects that describe the role that math plays in the course of being an architect. You might be surprised at the answers – which are almost all in agreement with one another.
There is a reality check waiting for most graduating architects … Practicing architecture for 99.9% of the architects out there means something other than designing – at least what you think design 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. It means solving problems – sometimes incredibly mundane and uninspired – yet very important problems to the people who retain your services.
Architects work a lot of hours but do they have a culture of working long hours? If you are thinking about being an architect, do you have to work a lot? Well, I suppose that depends on where you work. Whenever I tell someone on an architectural chat board that I haven’t pulled an all-nighter since architecture school, there are always a few that come out and proudly(?) state that they’ve pulled several just in the last week.
Who are these people? I think they are full of _______.
Architecture is not a trade, it’s a craft … and to become any good at it, you are going to have to get it wrong for awhile. This post is closely related to “The Architect’s Ego” post listed above but with a slight variation.
While there are always exceptions to the rule, most architects don’t really start putting all the pieces together with control until they’re old enough to have experienced the process of getting things wrong a few times and learning from the process to know why something worked well enough to repeat the success without repeating the solution. This doesn’t mean that a young architect is going to be bad, it means that they will get better as they experience a bit of life.
I hope that this curated list of “Do You Want to be an Architect” posts can help you zero in on your own reasons for either warning to be an architect, or that they have reaffirmed your reasons for becoming an architect. Out of a population of over 325 million people, there are roughly 105,000 licensed architects in the United States. We are clearly a small club of special individuals and there aren’t that many degrees separating us from one another.