As we discussed the stereotypes earlier this week on the podcast, I was inspired to create this post. Added to that is just two days ago some of the discussion in our upcoming episode (062) and then I was fully settled into this one.
Do all Architects work long hours? While I am not a proponent of that as a standard policy, I feel the need to maybe backtrack on my stance from the episode. But not exactly. I work a lot of hours in a single week. But I think that is because I have essentially 2.5 to 3 jobs… let me explain.
At the moment, I could realistically say that I have 2.5-3 full-time jobs. This is by choice for the majority, and then partly by my desire to meet my preferred standard of living. So I have what is considered my full-time job; I am an assistant professor of practice at Texas A&M University in the Department of Architecture. That would be by most considered my full-time job. And I will say that it can provide the majority of my income. This involves teaching design studios 3 days a week. Which if you are unfamiliar, that means I teach one three hour class and one 3.5 hour class. And that is not credit hours that is the actual hours per day. 8:00 am to 11:30 am on Monday/Wednesday/Friday I teach a second-year design studio. I have a very short 30-minute break before I teach my second studio. I have a first-year design studio from noon to 3:00. Each of these studios has 20 students. That may not sound like much for a standard type of lecture class, but if you again are unfamiliar, that is a large number of students for a design studio.
Also associated with this position, I am a coordinator of seven Ph.D. students who are teaching a freshman-level representation/drawing studios. That class is also 3 hours per session but only two days per week. While am not teaching that class, I developed the curriculum, reading assignments, and semester schedule for this class. This also means that I field questions and deal with issues from this group of student instructors. Some of them have never taught before and need additional support. Also, they want to do a good job. So that is a limited administrative role. Then I am on 2 departmental committees. One is “lectures and exhibitions” and the other is the “Degree Plan” committee. The lectures committee is full steam as we have the task of setting up the lecture series for the Spring Semester. And also setting up a framework for the future lecture series is the main goal for this committee. The Degree committee involves reevaluating and guiding the undergraduate degree of Environmental Design. So that is a slower moving group. And of course, I have to review students’ work, grade their work, read their papers, discuss readings, make small lectures, and have office hours to meet with them. Full-time job 100% FTE.
My second job you ask? Well, that is essentially my firm. I have not closed my doors exactly and may not be ever be doing so due to the ever-evolving situation that is now my life. At the moment I still have three projects under construction with a few others I am attempting to acquire. Most of this work is construction administration for now and involves emails, RFI’s, submittals, and general administrative work. While this is not a large percentage of my time now, it is still something to squeeze in during the workweek. It cannot really be relegated to the weekend because all the others involved in the projects are working their jobs also, and it just so happens, that is Monday through Friday. So there is time to be carved usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays to keep this endeavor going. And then, unfortunately, I am involved in two very shifty lawsuits. So that is some time each week also. This now represents a much smaller portion of my income but not so much an equal decrease in the time required. This is time is again unfortunate. So maybe this one is about a 75% FTE effort condition.
The last source of income is this here work at Life of an Architect (podcast and site). This involves maybe more hours than one might imagine. While the blogposts for me or for the episodes are not too much of a time drain for me, editing audio is another story. For example, this post or an episode post only takes 3-5 hours to put together. I usually strive for the lesser. Editing an episode on the other hand takes anywhere from 10-14 hours of work per episode. Then we also record episodes. And while Bob likes to state I do little to prepare for episodes, I actually do. While it may not be a lot, it does constitute an hour or two per episode. Then if we have ads in the episode I am editing that content as well. That usually constitutes breaking down a twenty-minute interview into a five-minute segment. This is not the easiest of tasks in reality because it needs to still sound like a five-minute conversation. But on the flip side, I am getting fairly accomplished as an audio editor. So this “job” may constitute about a 50% FTE effort.
Lastly, I have the volunteer time I spend on the Profession. Not any compensation here in dollars. Only in value. I am involved in the AIA at the state level. I am the current Vice President of Communications for the Texas Society of Architects. This is definitely an uneven distribution of time and effort. By that, I mean that in some weeks it is abundant and then others non-existent. This also involves executive board meetings along with full board meetings at least quarterly, but in this year, the need for organizations to meet and manage seems to be increased. Budget discussions, staffing issues, and other pandemic issues have required more time devoted to the volunteer effort. My oversight duties involve keeping “tabs” on their work and attending their committee meetings as an observer. I am also a chair of a task force/committee that is dealing with the organization’s bylaws. And on the occasion, I write articles for Texas Architect Magazine. This is another endeavor that I dedicate my time towards. This one is not financially driven, but I feel it is critical for me to be involved in my profession and try to give back and try to move the profession forward. All of this volunteer time is spread out over the weeks with some during the typical workweek hours and the rest on the weekends and nights. I might place this at about a 50% FTE as well.
Then of course I have my daughters. Both play volleyball. One in her senior year (man I’m’ old) and the other just beginning her career in junior high and soon more club teams. And time for them and with them is only second to my workday commitments. As a divorced single father who has them at least 50% of the time, they are a large and very important part of my life. But it was meant to be a discussion about our “working” hours, so I will not emphasize this point any longer. Being the best Dad I can be 150% FTE. (but not part of this equation)
None of this is to really complain about my long hours for these combined efforts. If I did not want to do these things I would certainly not. I enjoy all of them. Not 100 percent of the time, mind you, but more times than not. All of these “activities” keep me busy and for that I am thankful. Mostly. So when thinking about how many hours a week I work, I must certainly say it is more than 40 -50 hours per week. Yet, this is the path that I choose because it all means something to me. It is not forced upon me; I do it because of what it gives me in measurements beyond money. Maybe if that were my only concern, I ought to find a more lucrative singular effort job. At this time, I am not certain that is something in existence. But doing all of these things lead me to think if is it possible; I will find it among these many endeavors.
Until next time,