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    Unwanted Degree #1 = Architecture?

    Hi Archinect,

    Merry Christmas! Hope you all had a good holiday.

    Right before I ran off to my yoga class the other day, my cousin sent me this article about the most unwanted degrees in the US. So I thought I would share here with you: Don't Bother Earning These Five Degrees.

    "Unwanted Degree #1 = Architecture
    Earning a bachelor's in architecture might impress a lot of people, but according to a 2012 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, "Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal," it might not impress a lot of employers. And that can be tough to take, says Lynn, since architecture is such an industry-specific major. "If there's not a job offer waiting when you graduate, then it can be very frustrating because it can be very hard to maneuver into another career path with this degree due to its narrow focus," says Lynn.
    Perhaps that's the reason the "Hard Times" study found a 13.9 percent unemployment rate among recent architecture grads. The study's co-author, Dr. Anthony P. Carnevale, says this is due to the national collapse in the housing industry."

    This is not news at all, but this article to me is very misleading. First of all, I don’t think there is a most wanted/unwanted degree. The most wanted major to a bank is obviously finance, but, to an architectural firm, it would be architecture. I would like to believe that we are into this profession for our passion. For those that don't have a passion for architecture, I don't know why you would pick this industry. So yes go ahead and get that
    Business Administration degree like it says in the article. Those of us that studied for that five years stayed for a reason.

    I am very opposed to the generalized saying of architecture education = waste of money and time. If you have been in architecture school, you would know that what we learned in school was not at all industry specific. Instead, it taught us nothing about the actual profession in the real world. It taught us how to think critically and independently. I have some archie friends that went into construction management, engineering, interior
    design, graphic design, theatre, art, and some went into unrelated fields like education and some started their own design studio.

    One of my favorite professors once said, “you don’t go to college just to get a degree. You go to college to learn how to learn”. If there is one major that teaches you how to learn, that's architecture. It shows you a million possibilities for you to learn; it lets you explore how you think as an individual; it also works you to a limit that you don't even know exists. I have to admit whenever someone come up to me and ask me if they should do architecture, I always say no. Not because it's the "most unwanted degree" in our times, but because it's more than just a degree.

     

    P.S. First week into my new job! I have to say so far it's been great. I don't know if there is such thing as the "perfect" job. But I feel very compatible with the work environment, and their design aesthetic. There is nothing worse than cadding away designs that you don't relate to in an uncomfortable office (and I know cause I was there!). 

    Off to my vacation in Michigan. See ya!

    Joann

     

     
    • 11 Comments

    • Matthew MessnerMatthew Messner
      Dec 27, 12 12:53 am

      The best piece of advice given to me by someone who knows.

      "If you want to be an architect, don't let anyone talk you out of being an architect, because people will try."

      This was said in the context of him having an M.Arch, and over the years being shifted out of doing actual architecture as higher ups realized his skill at problem solving and team leadership.  He was warning against business people that have the money to convince you to become a business person.

      chris moodychris moody
      Dec 27, 12 5:11 pm

      There are very, VERY, few disciplines where you are trained academically and professionally to do almost anything and if need be, everything. Architecture is one of them. There is no other discipline where you become licenced and hold a degree which enables you to manage budgets, procure materials, direct personnel, maintain client AND vendor relationships, and finally, put a roof over everyones heads. If the person who initially write the original article performed further research, they would have discovered that the reason for the declined in construction, which affects architecture was because of investment concerns. After the "Madoff" incident, investors lost confidence in putting forth further investment in building and construction(Business majors should know this and if they don't, they do now). If someone who majors in Business  stop and considers what an Architecture major does, they would realize that the Architecture major can do as much, if not more, than what a Business major does. Don't get me wrong, earning a degree in business is a good thing. But to conclude that an Architecture degree is unwanted would be shortsighted and foolish. There are millions of people(if not billions)who are without shelter. The world needs people who can address this concern. Architects can. That is if the "business" majors would get behind the architects in making this happen. Just for the sake of argument, lets consider a dark alternative. If even the concept of architecture never came of about, people would be subject to weather conditions and predators(keep in mind that not everyone lives by trees or caves, and even there you wouldn't be completely safe)what would our mortality rate be? Chances are, it would not be good. Bottom line, architects are needed. Period.

      bluesidd
      Dec 28, 12 9:36 am

      "Bottom line, architects are needed. Period."

      To what degree? How much 'architecture' done by 'architects' was/is involved in sprawling suburban developments that make the most money for most domestic construction companies? They may need an architect to stamp the drawings, but they don't want architecture.

      Architecture is, actually, second to business - without the politics and finance in place, we have no work. Investors don't invest in architecture, per se, they invest on returns in real estate.

      chris moodychris moody
      Dec 28, 12 5:47 pm

      Bluesidd,

      Consider this. First, regarding "sprawls", investors are responsible for that because it's quick and cheap, not architects. Second, architects do not merely stamp plans. They make sure that plans are carefully executed so that once a structure is built, and if its built properly and to code, it should not collaspe on you the moment you open and close its doors. But then again, when investors try to keep costs down, in many instances it means "cutting corners" just to get the largerst ROI possible. Politicians and financiers needs architects, unless they are okay with living in trees and caves. Bluesidd, the very place you live in was decided by someone who had the money to build. They most likely, used an architect to make the structure in which you live in, a reality. Would you be okay living in a tree or cave? Ancient Egyptians and Sumerians did not accept living in sand,dust, trees or caves, either.

      Steven McMahonSteven McMahon
      Jan 1, 13 11:26 am

      To the above poster.... Most likely the home you live in was not overseen , much less drawn by an architect. The construction industry has reduced the role of the architect significantly over time.

      shuellmi
      Jan 2, 13 12:05 pm

      What architecture is an unwanted degree...

      I understand the arguement some make that architects are trained to think critically, manage schedules, etc. etc.  The problem is that with the econimy being so bad, a potential employer has no incentive to take a risk on an architecture major when there are plenty of people with the specific degree they seek availible.

      kowtow
      Jan 2, 13 5:03 pm

      I have read probably a dozen articles like this since I started Architecture school.  One of the things that the articles never point out is that to practice architecture as a licensed architect you need a professional degree and the number of schools offer the professional bachelors' degree are dwindling.  So in that respect, yes, a B.A. in architecture is pretty silly.  But so is a B.A. in sociology, or criminal justice.  All of those disciplines usually have higher aspirations and require professional finishing degrees (like the M.Arch).  Couple that with the fact that the industry is notorious for "unpaid internships" where recent grads work for free at design firms.  The way a lot of these metrics are devised to rank "the value" of degrees is by the starting salaries of those graduates.  But if you don't earn a salary because you're working for experience, then you're going to play down the value of the degree.  

      I also know that there are a lot of graduates going out and finding work in similar but unrelated fields (like software design) where the computer skills we learn are at a premium.  So having the degree leads them to another field, that isn't necessarily architectural.

      I think there is an immense amount of irresponsibility on the part of the magazines that conduct these rankings they need to understand how the industry is run, and what the implications of getting a B.A. in architecture actually are before they go and trash the degree as a whole.

       

      Thayer-D
      Jan 3, 13 9:32 am

      Steve,

      "To the above poster.... Most likely the home you live in was not overseen , much less drawn by an architect. The construction industry has reduced the role of the architect significantly over time."  This is true only to the extent that the architecture profession has abdicated the role that used to be the provenance of apprentiship, that is of preparing a student to become a professional.  I know it's fashionable to distance archtiects from responsability and to reduce archtiecture school to the role of experimentation, but that's a cop out.  

      This is born out from comments like  "regarding "sprawls", investors are responsible for that because it's quick and cheap, not architects." Why is it that New Urbanism has gained traction against the tide of sprawl?  Becasue some architects thought to engage the investors/developers in what drove them and in the best examples, have still been able to produce something quite delightful to the average passerby.  In fact, archtiectural history is full of examples where this delicate dance has produced some of the most amazing buildings ever thought up.

      Take another example from the pages of Archinet ..."As previously mentioned, universities, differently from vocational schools, are not responsible for the training of prepared workforce, but to prepare culturally individuals in a specific area. Is also impossible to simulate the dynamics, institutional or otherwise, behind the architectural and urban interventions, this is all part of the professional experience that starts from internships and work experience..." 

      Why do we complain that an archtiecture degree is considered useless when we don't even take responsability for the ills that plague the modern archtiectrural education?  "But if you don't earn a salary because you're working for experience, then you're going to play down the value of the degree.  "  Cause you're not bringing anything immediatly useful to your prospective employer, and you'd have to understand that it's only a business if you get someone to pay for your endevors, however you approach the market place.

      "I think there is an immense amount of irresponsibility on the part of the magazines that conduct these rankings they need to understand how the industry is run".  I think magazines know all too well how industry is run, that's the whole point.  The  real irresponsability lies more with the schools of archtiecture that continue to foster a fantasy world for students who come out thinking your average practicing archtiect has the time and money to indulge in thier archtiectural naval gazing.

      I always encourage young people to persue architecture, if they really love it.  But I think I do them a favor by telling them straight out it isn't about sitting in a corner office with a box of crayons.  You'll have to engage all sorts of people on all sorts of levels, something archtiecture schools do a horrible job of preparing archtiects to do.  Why they do that is a whole other question.

      chris moodychris moody
      Jan 4, 13 9:38 pm

      "This is born out from comments like  "regarding "sprawls", investors are responsible for that because it's quick and cheap, not architects." Why is it that New Urbanism has gained traction against the tide of sprawl?  Becasue some architects thought to engage the investors/developers in what drove them and in the best examples, have still been able to produce something quite delightful to the average passerby.  In fact, archtiectural history is full of examples where this delicate dance has produced some of the most amazing buildings ever thought up."

      Thayer -D

      If you are referring to "pocket neighborhoods" ,those are completely than "sprawls" because sprawls are mass- produced, which in essence, makes them cheaper to produce, and architecturally, unappealing. I could be wrong but I never heard of any architect approaching their investors on cost control. Historically, its been the other way around. Chances are, Thayer, what you may have seen are examples of pocket neighborhoods.

      Quentin PegramQuentin Pegram
      Jan 9, 13 11:28 am

      Well the article's main point about no jobs.......dead on. Ask a 2009 graduate who has never had an arch job.....

      blasph1226
      Apr 26, 14 8:40 pm

      The industry is not looking for the next hot shot designer straight out of college. They're looking for people with hardcore technical skills in BIM and construction management. If you're not trained in the latest technology, no amount of architectural passion and poetry is going to make anyone industrially viable. It's nice to dream, but it's more important to reinvent yourself with the latest skills and reopen the door with a better foot. Architecture is still a business and the competition is cruel, but it's far more cruel to delude yourself into thinking that an outdated B A Arch degree is all you need.

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Documenting the life between our graduation from architecture school and becoming a licensed architect. They say it's the journey that matters, so here we are experiencing the joy of being a great intern. Follow me @joannlui

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