Getting into architecture from another field

I'm finishing up my senior year of undergrad, getting a BS in psychology. I always found it interesting but I was never passionate about it. At the end of my sophomore year, I started seriously considering the path of architecture (after working as an associate at a local design firm), but was told by advisors that it was too late to change my major unless I wanted to start over and stay in undergrad for another 5 years, and they advised me to consider a Master's after I graduate. 

This past summer I did the Career Discovery program at the GSD and confirmed my calling for architecture, and now have been actively trying to figure out ways to get into the field. I would like to work for a few years to gain some experience, develop portfolio material, and make connections (and not have to take out a ton of loans) before applying to an M.Arch program. I am trying to teach myself SketchUp, Adobe CC, and other rendering software, but I'm struggling to figure out where I can find employment in the meantime. 

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Oct 17, 17 9:35 pm
Non Sequitur

Why would an office hire you when there are plenty of fresh grads available? You can have all the ambition in the world but that won't count for much if you can't help design and detail buildings at an above layman level.

Oct 17, 17 10:02 pm

I realize that, which is why I'm currently looking for administrative-type positions in architecture firms. But I know I'm not the first person to ever try to make a transition like this so I'm hoping to get some feedback from others who have been in this situation. Thanks for the help though!!!


Quick question, how did you become an associate at a design firm without any design knowledge?

Oct 18, 17 4:51 am

They were also doing some home decor so I balanced between the retail side and managing the front desk/client services. Luckily for me, it was a pretty small company so I got to learn a lot about the whole process and materials pretty quickly, despite that not being my main job function.


That's interesting, maybe they collaborated with some architects you could contact?


Learn revit or cad or whatever and spend a couple of years as a cad monkey.  It's what you'll be doing when you get out of school, anyway.

Oct 18, 17 6:58 am

I’d say fresh grads are about at the layman level. She’d probably be more realistic and down to earth than any arch student and if her uncle or something was a contractor she’d know more about construction than most arch grads. For OP, learn CAD/Revit and your above any arch grad already.

Oct 18, 17 9:06 am

hey, tado ando went from driving trucks to renown architect so..... i
dont see any reason why you cant go from psych major to architecture.
the thing is you will definitely start at the bottom, but if you keep
the positive can do attitude you will weather that storm and be on your
way. I personally would put sketchup and photoshop on back burner and
learn cad and revit. Although we all are in production, (producing
clients, sketches, designs, cd's, spec's, etc..) at your level of
experience, you will be expected to be in the production trenches of
picking up redlines, drafting, other menial task 8-10hr's a day for about 2-3yrs until you prove yourself and move up the food chain.

Oct 18, 17 10:30 am

Don't forget he was a Boxer too lol.


I switched into architecture from another major after my first year in college.  During the summer between 1st and 2nd year in college, I took 2 summer sessions of AutoCAD at my local community college for really cheap.  The good thing about a community college for this kind of course is that the classes are typically taught by a local draftsman instead of licensed architects.  And who better to learn drafting from than a dedicated draftsman?!  I was by no means an expert, but I learned enough that it put me on a better footing than a lot of my first year classmates who had never used any kind of drafting software and tried to avoid AutoCAD like the plague until it was forced on them during 3rd year when it became mandatory for studio.

You could also try looking for a marketing position (in lieu of administrative) as it would probably pay better, and allow you to begin networking.

Oct 18, 17 11:01 am
Non Sequitur
Who cares about software. Anyone can learn it in a simple weekend crash course. Learn how to draw and think in terms of construction methods, materials, scale, etc. Take a few local college art classes and whatnot if you need to.
Oct 18, 17 11:52 am

Start drawing things and making models of the drawings. That is what I did. (in 4th grade-high school)

Oct 18, 17 1:00 pm
Plenty of architects go the m.arch route. As you are still an undergrad you won't be losing much time starting at the bottom as you would be doing that in any field. Apply for contract or part time positions between undergrad and grad, parlay any skills you picked up from gsd and the previous job into your next role. Talk up any hybrid marketing or proposal writing skills you may have. Tons of places are hiring right now, be persistent in the job hunt and avoid being picky about what sort of firm you're willing to work at as you'll be learning a lot regardless of the genre so long as it's architecture. Tap any and all contacts made in the field. Someone always knows someone especially in the bigger cities.
Oct 18, 17 1:23 pm

Block this user

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

  • ×Search in: