other career paths?

I am a little more than a year out of school now and have worked in 3 different firms (Gensler, small firm, and mid sized firm). While I loved architecture school and studio/design, I feel very bored by architecture practice.

I've spent a good bit of time doing code and zoning research, occupancy and fixture count calculations, some toilet detailing, and plan revisions. I do enjoy the time where I am able to design something like a facade skin, interior plans and layouts, and competition work but day to day I can feel pretty miserable sitting at my desk and figuring out toilet details. It's also pretty frustrating how many limitations clients put on projects to maintain the budget, which of course makes sense, but sometimes is hard to understand how the people with no design knowledge are the ones calling the shots about the design. At this point I'm not sure if I want to continue with the profession. I still need to go back for my Masters but have doubts if I should pursue an MBA or MARCH.

What are other people's take on the day to day profession? If I'm having these doubts should I change career paths? At this point getting my license seems like I'm signing myself up to do more of the boring stuff that I don't like doing. Any thoughts?

Aug 12, 17 5:06 pm

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Non Sequitur
Welcome to the profession. Learn to love all the tasks and you'll do fine. Seek only the "fun" designy easy stuff, and you'll hate every day.
Aug 12, 17 5:25 pm
This question has been asked many times. Search through the forums and check out archinect's out of the box series.

The answer you're likely after in regards to client limitations is essentially you need to be your own developer thus hold the purse strings. The one who holds the money makes the decisions, in any field, architecture being no exception. Architects are glorified drafters at this point. An MBA can help with a transition to development but arguably isn't necessary. See other discussions on the matter via the forum search.

A great comparison I've heard recently, on here, is an architect is basically a lawyer with drawings but without the high paycheck. From that perspective, and the more you practice, the more you will understand why so much of the job is 'boring' or uncreative. Unfortunately school hardly prepares one for this reality as so many programs are obsessed with the 'art' aspect. Unless you're independently wealthy and bent on becoming a starchitect it's unlikely you'll be doing a huge amount of fun designy stuff.
Aug 12, 17 5:37 pm

Yes, yes, yes.


well said, sir

Stuck in the bathroom? Read Alexander Kira. 

Remember the Golden Rule: those with the gold make the rules.

Attitude is everything, no matter what you do. 

Aug 12, 17 5:58 pm

How come you're not excited about toilet details? It's basically the interior plan and layout of the smallest room in the building, with the walls being its interior facades and anything new you come up with is like doing a competition.

Aug 13, 17 3:55 am

Some would argue that, at key times, it's the most important room in the building.


Thinking back to my own career in architecture once you get qualified as an architect you start doing proper designs of your own, running jobs, managing projects on site etc, until then yes you are a glorified draughtsman. I do feel that schools should do more to show what architecture is actually about - its not about pretty pictures its about getting building built and it include all the tiny little details like sizing the doors and arranging the tiling in bathrooms. There isnt much of it that is really creative. But it also does depend where you work and what job you will be fulfilling. You have to be quite good at design though to get creative tasks. And it does tend to get worse once you get higher up because then you often become little more than a manager of staff. I discovered quite quickly that it wasnt what I expected, I nearly packed it all in even during my first year on the degree but was having such a good time at Poly I didnt and I regret not doing that now.

Aug 14, 17 6:59 am

its called a quarter life crisis.  just about every job will be boring in comparison with school.  so if making the decisions overides boredom then development and ownership side might be better.  in school you pay people to teach and motivate you.  in the real world you ask people to pay you for work they need.  you can keep going back to school but eventually you have to get going.

Aug 14, 17 7:50 am

other career paths without going to school include construction management, realtor, interior designer, decorator....


​I dont know teachers and lecturers seem to manage never having to live in the real world of employment grind.

^ have you ever tried teaching or lecturing?


I have. it's a much different pace. It's a fast few months with lots of excitement vs 50 weeks a year (where 2 weeks of vacation are mildly spreadout). school has breaks. work doesn't. school is like a short kiddie rollercoaster. work is getting stuck on space mountain....


you can keep going back to school but eventually you have to get going

Great quote!!!!!!!!

Featured Comment

Archinect's "Working Out of the Box" series looks at architects that have found success applying their architecture education and experience to other fields. 

Aug 14, 17 1:15 pm

Always forget about that one. Very interesting and inspirational series, keep 'em coming!


Ask yourself what you want to do - you could try finding a position in a large firm that wants a conceptual artist or designer for planning applications or you could get into archvis which is very creative.

Aug 15, 17 4:25 am

You've worked in more than three firms "in a little over a year."? That might be one issue.

Aug 15, 17 9:28 am

if Alex is good it means she is truly bored. there was a female architect in nyc that had supposedly worked for like 20 firms in 2 years before opening shop. she did quite well i think.


Well I have had 19 jobs over the last 30 years of my architectural career so beat that. I've not been able to settle down anywhere.


Holy smokes Nats, I thought I was a job jumper!


So what we are saying here is that being good at being hired means you should be running your own shop in no time if you like. :)


I'm great at getting hired too, that stems hopeful.


Learn as much as you can, get your license, then consider an MBA. With 1 year of experience, and no promotions or career progression, getting into a quality MBA program will be tough. 

After 10 years of experience, I am doing a part time MBA program now - I am staying in architecture but transitioning into a firm leadership role. You really need to give architecture a chance - if you don't like it after 3 years and licensure, look into other options.

Aug 16, 17 11:56 am

Telling someone to try for 3 years when they've expressed that they're not too keen is horrible advice.


It was advice for someone considering an MBA with 1 year of mediocre professional experience. Here is my not horrible advice: do not go back for an MArch and double down on a profession you're not too keen on. That would be a big mistake.


Whatever else you do, do not invest in an M Arch until you're more certain about your path.

Aug 16, 17 12:47 pm

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