Too late to change career? Or should I give architecture a chance?

Hello everyone.

I am 25years old and I recently graduated from a B.Arch program in spring, 2016. I am currently employed at an architecture firm in Boston and I am preparing for the ARE.

But ever since graduating I was having this weird phase where I don't know what I should do with my life. Although I love architecture and everything about it, I become disheartened and disenchanted whenever I talk to people who knows what architecture profession is. Whenever I told people i studied architecture they always have concerns whether I will actually get a job after applying or how little I am going to earn despite the effort. Even the architects are not really that encouraging either. They are always complaining about everything and telling young people to stay away from architecture. And seeing the general attitude of the users of this site, I can tell that architecture is a joke to most people...

Since 4th I started to doubt myself whether I should continue with this profession or not. With only one year to graduate and through my family's persistence, I decided to graduate with B Arch and maybe pursue my Masters degree in more scientific and technical field, such as civil or structural engineering. I always thought engineering is as fascinating as architecture. However, after talking to a guy who studied engineering, he scoffed at the idea. Basically  it's near impossible for an architect to go back and study engineering because we have to go back to undergrad and start out with core curriculum. Even my family doesn't support the idea.

People will always say you should follow your heart or your passion, but to be frank that is the worst advise to give when it comes to reality of life: paying bills, putting food on table, having roof over our heads, etc.

I love architecture, but I hate the people who are involved in it.

Is it too late for me to change my career? Or is career change an option at all? Have I totally screwed up my life by studying architecture? Or should I still give architecture a chance?

Mar 8, 17 12:23 pm

you are 25

Mar 8, 17 12:34 pm

I know. Did you have more to say or..?


it's not late for anything, you can go back to school and graduate as neurosurgeon before turning 30. need more?


maybe it's a cultural bias, with your family being against your going back to undergrad?


I left Architecture at 24, and went back to it at 28. My girlfriend changed careers at 32. You're never too old to try new things.

Mar 8, 17 12:36 pm

"I left Architecture at 24, and went back to it at 28."

Why did you leave? What were you doing in the 4 years after you left? Why did you come back?


In short: the recession. I bartended a bunch, got really into brewing and beer history, almost went to back to school for a Brewing Science / MBA, then caught a lucky break at the last minute with a construction internship and eventually got into an M.Arch program.


But what made you stick with architecture, not brewing? You could have changed your career like your girlfriend did but why did you go back? Surely it's not only because you got an internship ...


I didn't exactly leave architecture voluntarily. There just wasn't opportunity at the time.

It's not really relevant to compare the "why" of my situation to yours, since you're having doubts I never had. Brewing was always a Plan B, Architecture was always a Plan A (alliterations coincidental). My original comment was in response to your question "Is it too late for me to change my career?" ...It's not.


DL: "I love architecture, but I hate the people who are involved in it."

I think you have answered your own question - unless you can find a way to practice w/o colleagues, clients, contractors and consultants.

Given this negative attitude, it's odd that you would come here for advice.

Mar 8, 17 12:45 pm

"Given this negative attitude, it's odd that you would come here for advice."

I don't know where to ask about architecture profession other then here.

Unless there's a better place you know?


a counselor? your family?


They don't understand anything about architecture profession?


they don't need to understand architecture, they need to understand you.


i've worked at places were everyone was super negative and down on the profession.  Perhaps you just need to work at a different firm?

Mar 8, 17 1:05 pm

Perhaps, you just need to relocate to move to a better setting, to places where architecture is celebrated and the profession is respected.  Travel .

Mar 8, 17 1:18 pm

Travel is a GREAT way to learn & expand your perspective. And when you're young, shoot, you don't need no Plaza Hotel, or First Class tickets (That's why Gawd invented 'MegaBus', Bicycles & Hostels).

Try to be curious about others, perhaps you'll see something beyond their snarky attitude. But, as you see quitting also takes effort because you have to identify possible solutions. I'll recommend reading "The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit" by Seth Godin, arguing for the merits, knowledge and intelligence in quitting. The graph below is a good reference from the book.

Mar 8, 17 2:58 pm

This is actually very helpful. Thank you.


Good post. Nothing like some actual analysis & fortitude to put into one's arsenal of life.


I don't think that graph is accurate for architecture - that first bump should be eliminated or scaled down by 75%.

Mar 8, 17 5:03 pm

Try to remember why you picked architecture in the first place.  If those reasons are no longer motivating and/or realistic, then you have your answer.

Mar 8, 17 5:26 pm

This is also very helpful. Thank you


dl457: Like file above, I am a bit shocked by your lack of empathy for the people here who you approach for advice. Still, I'm prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt, ascribe that slight to your relative youth, and try to be helpful.

In many ways, architecture is much like all of the other 'artsy' professions (i.e. dance, music, acting, painting, sculpture, movie making, etc.) in that many more people are interested in this particular way of life than there are those who ultimately find real success (and great happiness). Few among us become household names and enjoy constant recognition. Work can become a perpetual struggle - no matter what position you occupy in a firm. The laws of supply-and-demand leave many with unsatisfying work, long hours and relatively low pay. This results in widespread cynicism about the profession by many of its practitioners.

What I describe above was the nature of profession when I started in the early 70s and it remained so until I retired a few years back. That is the fundamental nature of this profession for many -- and the profession is not likely to change very much in the foreseeable future. Still, the above assessment is not to suggest that architecture cannot provide a rewarding career -- it does so for many, and I count myself in that number. 

In my experience, architecture (like the other professions I mentioned earlier) is most rewarding when an individual a) sets out with a clear goal in mind and then b) pursues that goal in an unrelenting manner -- not letting anything push you off of your chosen course. Talent, per se, is not necessarily the overriding criterion for success in this field (although it can be important.) Of much greater importance is the determination to keep moving forward and the ability to find your way around obstacles. I think that is true in any profession.

Architecture is a very difficult profession and success is not automatic -- it demands of us many things that were not obvious when we chose our major and requires many skills that our universities do not address. Daily practice is, in many ways, unrecognizable vis-à-vis what we do while in school. Some graduates make that adjustment after graduation and thrive; many never do. 

Nobody here can tell you whether you should stay in the profession or not -- ultimately that is a decision only you can make. As geezertect explains above, if you can find a way to integrate daily practice with your earlier motivations for pursuing architecture as a profession then perhaps you can build a rewarding career. But, if there is no connection between your early dreams and what you find in the profession now, then maybe you ought to look somewhere else. Life is way too short to pursue 40+ years of disappointment.

Good luck.

Mar 8, 17 7:04 pm

quizzical:  Very well said.

Mar 8, 17 7:43 pm


It's not too late to change into a different occupation. Perhaps, you may consider other options that are not as architecture related. For someone who is supposedly trained to be creative thinkers, you seem to lack creative thinking. There is always some degree of back tracking and starting from the entry level when you change into another career. That may mean education but it might not always mean that. 

You're 25. If you change career now, you'll be making some leeway forward by the time you are 35 years old. In some occupations, you'll be able to move up and progress fairly quickly. Faster than architecture, perhaps. You could finish your architecture degree and then start designing houses and soon after that, obtain a contractor license and do design-build. You have options in the 'architectural' occupation track (not necessarily as a licensed architect but other related design professions) but you also can reset and go into another career. Perhaps you don't retire at 65. Maybe you retire at 75. So what. In some fields, it is conceivable that you retire by 55 because you make a killing financially. 

Architecture and related occupations is highly tied to the financial lending economy that finances construction. These goes through boom/bust cycles. This is the architectural make-up of the construction lending infrastructure. 

This is about as far as I can help you take a step back and relax for a moment and take time to think about career directions. It doesn't absolutely have to happen today. Sometimes, a little bit of patience and taking time to think about options and how you will get from education to jobs. 

Believe me when I tell you, you have a better chance in becoming a licensed architect and making a career of it than I.

Mar 14, 17 7:01 am

In short, I wouldn't necessarily quit architecture until you have really taken some time to think about what others have said. Quizzical is right, it is a tough profession. I agree with what he has said. 

There is time to think about things. It is at times tough to quit something that you put so much time and energy investment into. Don't do anything on this matter in a knee-jerk fashion is my point. 

Mar 14, 17 7:33 am
Non Sequitur

1 year in the biz at only 25 years of age is not really a career. Plenty of time.

Mar 14, 17 8:40 am
Tinbeary There there

I left architecture at 31 and came back at 37. I started two new careers and took several classes during that time. I still have both of those careers, one as a hobby and the other is a business that provides income so I can do architecture on my terms which is really the only way I will do it now and I am very happy, annoyingly so I'm told. I was like you too in that when I finished my degree I had little desire to do architecture but right before graduation a classmate of mine convinced me to find an internship and so I did it anyways and hated it, hated the people, their enormous egos (the emperor wears no clothes) and poor ability to do much even with their licenses and 20+ years of experience and I thought it was all a joke. I've learned that 75% of all people suck. 75% of doctors suck, lawyers, teachers, cashiers, waiters, tool booth collectors, etc, and they are all coping with sucking. Ignore them don't become one. In architecture it's especially hard because young people need training and mentoring which doesn't exist. Even if you think you'll change careers, my advice would be to still pour everything you have into architecture until you find that other route (finish the ARE even if you have doubts). I wonder if you can do a Master's in Civil by taking some pre-requisites? Did you look into it?

Edit to add: and it is NEVER too late to change careers. I'm thinking I will only stick with architecture again for a few more years then either do development because I'm working closely with a develop now so I can learn it and it seems so much more rewarding and laid back. Or I might go back to school to be a counselor or maybe a lawyer. Keep dreaming, don't listen to people who say you should pick one thing and stick with it, they are miserable people. If you stop dreaming, that's when illness and stuff like divorce settles in.

Mar 14, 17 10:07 am

You will regret it if you don't explore your options - you are young - go exploring, and use Grad school as a way to drag yourself out of a ditch. Regarding paying bills and putting food on the table - architecture is one of the shittiest professions in that regard. If you have friends in STEM, in Medical, in Law, in Business, in Financial - they will all make multiple times your salary and work far less - and their companies will treat them far better. 

Mar 14, 17 1:18 pm

A lot of professions that are thought to be high-paying - aren't, law leading the list over the last few years. A lot of STEM jobs, particularly in the life sciences don't pay well. What does? Medicine, accounting, some kinds of finance, some kinds of engineering, particularity mechanical and civil engineering pay well. Civil engineering seems exceptionally well-positioned over the next several years with Trump's proposals for improving roads, bridges, airports, rail, ect. Architecture (and the AIA) are their own worst enemy.

Mar 14, 17 3:50 pm

Civil Engr'g is a Great career....if U love Dirt & Wastewater Treatment Plants :) Just kiddin', some of my best friends are C.E.'s!


Wow, I havent read anything on archinect with so much truth come for the hills man, ARCHITECTURE IS A DEAD CAREER!!!

Mar 14, 17 5:51 pm

The previous post is all about this next statement:  Architecture is FULL of lousy naysayers - ignore them.  Don't hang around 'em.  If you love Arch, then pinpoint what you love & follow it.  Don't make the mistake of chasing money.  That is a sure way to being unhappy in Arch.  Master what you love about it, then keep at it. 

BTW, Get yourself a good mentor whose 'been there' & can impart real, tangible experience to you (that's what the Internship process is all about - that's what makes Arch unique. 

At 25, you're still developing who U is as an Architect & I don't care if U ain't registrated...U ARE an Architect, remember that.  That's such a huge mental obstacle for many of us, but it DOES NOT EXIST outside of what you think.  But balance your confidence by remembering that your responsibility (to U & the profession) is to LEARN. 

Too many young Architects kid themselves into acting like they know everything.  U Don't.  Lose any arrogance that you might have accumulated & fer Gawd's sake...don't be one of them stubborn MoFo's who cuts off his nose to spite his face.  There's no one to impress. You need to focus:  listen & learn & practice.

Don't be distracted by the guy in the office w/ the new BMW, who always seems to get ahead (he's a 'suck up' - that don't make no good Architect).  If you're too focused on being cutting edge regarding your style or having the latest & greatest stuff - Yer Off track, Kiddo.  Shed that mentality, it's holding you down & keeping you from pursuing your potential.  Life is about the Journey, not the things which you will eventually want to get rid of, or put in a costly Storage Facility.

And again:  People who tell you that Arch is a Dead End & are nothing but negative are projectin' their failures onto you - that ain't yer Destiny.

Mar 16, 17 8:00 am
Olaf Design Ninja_

i am negative and do well. quit your bitching and grow up already. just because you exist does not make you special. just because you went to college means nothing. just because you will have an Arch degree even less important and wow you may get a license too someday!!! the negativity you are refering to is called "whining". whiners never do well in life. you know people who think getting a degree and a license is paying your dues. paying your dues is work. granted i learned by teaching and having employees you need to be positive and treat people with kid gloves, but seriously you want to be something - do something. figure it out already. you obviously are an architect because you believe no one understands. my response is "fuck you I am fine"....retiring is for losers! now get back to work.....good morning!

Mar 16, 17 10:40 am

nUTTY!!  That post is a good example of someone to avoid in this profession.

Mar 16, 17 2:07 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

so sensitive.

Mar 16, 17 8:26 pm

An easy way to avoid is to use that nice 'Flag' Button, then the 'Ignore' option.   Bye, bye.  Idiot gone.  More space for useful info now.

Mar 16, 17 11:20 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

note the OP hasn't responded, maybe they have solved their own problem? (or let's keeping blaming others for your own issues)

Mar 16, 17 11:24 pm

 Hi dl457

Thought I should chip in as I think I am in the reverse situation as you. I somehow convinced myself to study engineering for my bachelors because I  thought I wasn't talented enough to get onto an arch degree or get a job as an architect.. all that stuff and i really regret it now. As my college tutor said and as I discovered - Engineering is really dry! 

Also what you said about not liking the people in the field - I agree with what someone replied earlier - about 75% of the people in any field are people you won't want to spend time with. Engineering is no exceptions and has its fair share of douches. Engineers that do well seem to be very straight forward people and they are not for everyone.. lots of big egos flying about the place too.

Lastly you said about having to go back and do another bachelors if you wanted to convert.. have you thought about doing a techy Architecture Masters (so it won't be an MArch but it will skill you up to work on technical solutions in Architecture)? Or if you really want to do engineering there are probably some conversion courses out there .. i'll try and post any i find here.

Good luck.. and you are so young so don't worry about changing - maybe try and get some weeks interning or work experience with an engineering company and be honest about whether or not you are enjoying it (i wasn't!)

tintt - your post has cheered me up no end :) .. I feel like a total freak wanting to change careers again.. but I can't help myself.. the world is too interesting!

Mar 19, 17 7:40 pm

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