Good Time to Get a Master's in Architecture?


Okay, so the past few years I've been spinning my wheels, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I have a Master's in History and live in Michigan, one of the more economically depressed areas.  I'm willing to move but I can't unless I can get a job offer, which hasn't happened.  Anyway, I've always been interested in houses, and have toyed with the idea of trying to get into a master's program to become a licensed architect.  But all the news was about how it was the worst thing you could study because there were no jobs.  But I just glanced at O*Net's page and it says the field will grow by 15-21% (faster than average).  Which blows the 10-13% growth rate of most other areas I've looked into out of the water.

So...are the stats misleading, or have things turned around sufficiently that going for a Master's wouldn't doom me to a life of even more debt with no job prospects?

I've heard specializing helps, and I'd be interested in architectural historian work, if that's a viable path. I've seen quite a few postings for positions like that.  Also, does it matter where you get your degree? I know that in almost every field it matters a little, but even if I could get in somewhere like Michigan's Taubman College, I could never afford it.  Can the strength of one's work stand out above the school you attend?

Aug 28, 14 5:25 pm

Remember, the 15-21% growth rate you cite is off a very depressed level.  There are a ton of currently un/underemployed architect types who have to be absorbed into the industry.  By that time, we will probably be in the middle of another economic collapse in the building industry.  Do your homework, but my advice is stay away.  It's just not an economically viable profession even in the good times.  Sorry for the pessimism.

Aug 28, 14 6:33 pm

Would you say then that structural engineering would be a similar and more lucrative industry to get into as an alternative to those who are taking architecture classes which can cross over?

Aug 28, 14 7:52 pm

The problem with structural engineering is that if the architects are out of work the structural engineer is out of work.  If you do bridges, dams, etc. it is probably different, but for engineers who rely on architects and buildings for work, they will have the same problem.  Unfortunately, not as many things get built in a crappy economy.

Aug 29, 14 7:38 am

There are a lot of structural engineering positions open in Texas, many with oil services but many not. They are generally good jobs with good pay and benefits. The OP has a masters in history which costs six years and resulted in no employment and now he wants to spend three more years to get another masters is a field that is just as toxic as Ebola for employment prospects? Free advice: go to Houston, Dallas, or Austin and get a job, any job, and establish residency in Texas. Then check out majors at public universities that will give you a future such as petroleum engineering, civil engineering, marine engineering. Get a basic bachelors in your field and work toward your PE.

Aug 29, 14 8:22 am
x intern

Volunteer is right if you were a petroleum engineer in Texas right now skys the limit.  Shoot the truck drivers and mechanics make more than architects out in the oil fields.  Of course you have to live in an oil field in a man camp but hey you could rake it in.  

Aug 29, 14 10:13 am

Well you don't have to live in a "man camp". The civil engineers and marine engineers and most petroleum engineers have a very comfortable life style. Those don't are rewarded very well for a few weeks of roughing it. Better than a god-awful cubicle. There are also pages and pages of 'architect' jobs available in Texas. Unfortunately 98 percent of those are for information technology jobs. The industry formerly known as "architecture" has already lost use of the word. But keep pretending - at all costs.

Aug 29, 14 10:32 am

you should get your degree somewhat near the area you'd like to work.  No one in Texas will have even heard of 3 of the 4 schools of architecture in michigan.  Unfortunately they are all very expensive too.  Because architecture is so cyclical it is very risky to say that the economy will be booming when you finally graduate.  

I assume that you already have significant student loan debt, taking on additional debt for a low paying job is probably not a great idea unless it is something you are truly passionate about.

Aug 29, 14 1:03 pm

 taking on additional debt for a low paying job is probably not a great idea unless it is something you are truly passionate about.

Not a good idea even if you are passionate.  Passion doesn't put gas in the car or a roof over your head.  The principal purpose of a career is money unless you are some kind of a trust funder.

Aug 29, 14 1:15 pm

If the OP wants to stay in Michigan he can go the the University of Michigan and major in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. I don't think he has really looked at all the interesting options available to him.

Aug 29, 14 1:23 pm


Aug 29, 14 2:49 pm

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