Project Architect vs Construction Project Manager job


Dear reader,

I feel the need for an advice on deciding on a job opportunity. I am an architecture graduate with a 5 year experience in architectural projects, working on design, implementation of different types of buildings and also some urban projects for small to medium size studios. Lately an opportunity has been offered to me by a big company to work as a construction project manager on a small infrastructure project. Salary is double of what i currently get, but the downside is my job will be mainly construction managerial and not design related which sets some doubts into my mind on whether or not i should accept it. Should i go for it and get experience on a new construction and managerial level or should i continue working as a project architect. If someone has ever been here to make a choice i would appreciate some perspective. 

Aug 18, 17 9:53 am

is it a contract for the small infrastructure project or permanent possition? Double salaray seems like it would be a push to take the job..Can't you always try it out for a year and if you don't like it go back to being a project architect?

Aug 18, 17 10:09 am

You went to design school to learn design. And you did. Of course a construction company will prefer someone who understands design over someone who got a college degree in construction management.

Take the higher paying gig as long as your ego can handle it. Ego and design are indistinguishable in this profession.

Aug 18, 17 11:29 am

Take the construction management job without hesitation. Take the financial portion out of the equation. Construction managers are concerned with managing schedule, cost and quality. An essential balancing act that is required if you want to make the jump from Project Architect to Project Principal in the architecture world.

You will be in a position to liaise with engineers and architects on the project and they'll be more receptive to your ideas since you both speak the same language. You've been in their shoes, that makes you an invaluable resource for the project. 

The same goes for the construction team, you work for/with them now. You can help represent their interests and will surely be able to put together their ideas better than a scribble on a piece of 2x4 and help move the project along.  

The hours will likely be longer and "more intense" in the field. If you don't mind that, go for it. 

Aug 18, 17 11:35 am

Go for construction management. Higher pay and better experience opportunities. You will not gain much "designing" esp. this early in your career. 

Aug 18, 17 12:13 pm

CM. The construction experience will pay dividends if you go back to architecture.  

Aug 18, 17 3:54 pm

Looking back at the works I have done it is true that very few hours were spent on design and more were spent modelling, detailing or documenting projects. I guess it might be really valuable to get some experience as a CM and use it later on as an architect also, to make the jump to project principal. Gonna write my resignation on Monday.

Thank you everyone for the comments!

Aug 19, 17 1:00 pm

Best of luck! Please come back and let us know how it goes. 

Aug 19, 17 5:08 pm

Architecture is not design - design is part of archiecture.  It includes briefing, cost planning, tendering and Contract Administration skills.  Construction Management skills are an important part of ARCHITECTURE - the money is a bonus.  

Aug 22, 17 6:10 pm

It is pertinent that legal aspects like tendering, contracts, permits are going to be a part of getting the "design" built, but all this - constracts, admin, tenders, costing are just one time, what remains for many years is the design that users/people relate on a day to day basis. That is why I weigh design more, over administrative and legal aspects( though I agree that these are important to get a project built).


curious as to what you ended up doing, and how it went? Im in a similar position, though from the opposite side. Im a CM now but looking ahead it seemed to me that being a project architect would be a good role at an A firm if and when i made the switch. I have a MArch and have worked in Architecture before, but dont have very significant experience in an A firm like you did.

Feb 22, 18 11:52 pm

Hi Fabisco,

Did you have better work and life balance as a CM?   I'm currently a PM and have worked as an architect for 11 years, but i really don't see myself doing this for longer period.. It's getting more and more stressful for me.  So, i'm thinking of trying a CM position.  I am wondering if you can provide any insights on working condition, workload, and schedule.   I live in SF Bay Area and there seem to lot of opportunities on both ends at this moment. 


Dear reader,

It's been 7 months since i left my job at an architecture studio and started working as a construction project manager. 

First of all, i thought this job would get me further from design and architecture, but i have never felt closer. One of the reasons of this is coz i was really passionate to see and check the ground works. But because of that i had to do all the management planing after work hours in the evening. That has been a bit tiring i confess. But that's just a detail. What i mean to say is that there is so much more to learn on site if you dive yourself in and there is so much power in management if you understand your resources.

Secondly, i feel good about the job i am doing. I can still feel the pressure of those office deadlines but i also truly enjoy management. Part of this might also be that the company i work for is quite flexible and they are open to any new approaches. When you manage a team you can only be as good as your team is. That being said, i know its a lot of pressure to have greater responsibility, but motivation is a key, and the pressure is even greater if you have no one to share it with.

Lastly, this job has put down my doubts and encouraged me a lot to open my own architecture studio and think how to use all what i have learned and how to keep learning both in management and construction.

Cheers mate.

Mar 15, 18 11:13 am

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: