Least stressful role for someone with an architecture background


I recently graduated with a BA and acquired some experience working for a large well regarded practice at a busy city. However, I have been now diagnosed with a long term condition that makes working in a stressful environment difficult for me.

What other entry levels roles are there out there (ideally within the design & construction sector) that would fit my current background and would not expose me to high levels of stress?

I have thought about building component design/manufacturing where I can put my CAD skills to use and have found vacancies for timber frame designers. I have also looked into small design and build firms outside the city but again I don't know what kind of role I could fit into.

I greatly appreciate your thoughts on the above.

Apr 21, 18 6:32 pm

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if you don’t mind me asking what’s the name of the condition? 

I get extremely stressed at work too and hate it. There are some days the stress is so much I can’t get out of bed in the morning. It has been taking a toll on me and has been leading me to severe depression 

Apr 21, 18 9:31 pm

Obviously we don't know the nature of your condition, but in my 25 years as a worker bee, i believe that stress is where you make it.  Have you considered attending (psychiatric) therapy? Because stress is a part of life - it's how you handle it that makes all the difference. I'm a big advocate of seeking assistance when it comes to learning coping mechanisms.

Apr 22, 18 2:41 am

Stress is a part of life indeed but having to deal stress in a fast paced environment at work is no longer viable for me.


So far I've never met a stressed out government official or spec writer.

Apr 22, 18 8:29 am

I think something like steel detailing, timber detailing or doing shop drawings (from the shop side) would be perfect for you. Plus you could hang out at a shop and see physical things being made... Most welders and carpenters are a whole lot less stressed and pretentious than architects... 

Have you ever heard a shop be like "oh my guy was up all night doing these shop drawings for you?" 

Apr 22, 18 11:54 am

I agree.


Thanks for the replies.

Wouldn't these jobs (design and drafting jobs in general) be fast paced? Also wouldn't this suit better someone with an engineering background or could I pick up the detailing skill through literature or even find an entry level position and learn on the job? Finally, what kind of companies would advertise such positions?



Apr 22, 18 4:15 pm

I would take the opposite step and move further away from anything where the bag rests with you -- ie, NOT shop drawings (where, you have to REALLY know the ins and outs of whatever you're fabricating, because the buck stops 100% with you, if you draw something wrong it immediately gets built wrong and you're left holding the bag).  

It really depends on what you find is the source of stress in your working life.  It's different for everyone.  Do you find interacting with clients stressful?  Do you find the need to get things correct (ie, legal liability of drawings) to be stressful?  Do you find working to deadlines stressful?  Is the fact of having a boss stressful?  (Some people do not work well in an underling capacity).  Hard to help steer you until you can pinpoint what it is that stresses you out.

In GENERAL being a plan examiner seems to be a fairly stress-free job.  You can take your sweet time, have very little liability, and all you have to know is the code backwards and forwards.  Plus: government pension!  And they leave at 4:30pm usually too.

Apr 22, 18 4:19 pm

Working long, fast paced hours to meet deadlines & being micromanaged by perfectionists. Getting things right can be a stressful if I don't have enough time. In general I have good technical ability and can produce high quality work if I am given enough time.


It sounds like you may just need to change firms. Plenty of firms out there with 40 hr weeks and no micromanagement by perfectionists -- those things all go hand in hand and they come from the top: if you have a perfectionist boss, who doesn't understand when "good" is "good enough", they tend to a) micromanage, b) race up to tight deadlines with too much demanded of each deadline and c) be really hard on their employees (basically to make up for their own shortcomings). As a veteran of 9 or 10 firms and nearly 2 decades in the profession, let me assure you, there are plenty of firms with better bosses -- and a better boss, in architecture, makes ALL the difference.


It is the fast paced nature of the job that is the worst for me. Most job openings for assistants/techs (my level of experience) require you to 'work well under pressure'. I think all design/drafting related jobs must be like that right? Working to tight deadlines was a bit of a problem for me at school but now with my health problems it is just not happening. Having a bad or a good boss is in my opinion a matter of luck, you never know who you would be working with. How can you tell what the firm culture is going to be like? What kind of firms should I look into or avoid?

The government is the antithesis of fast paced. They need architectural people here and there. Especially large cities. Takes an eternity to get hired but once you do you’ll never lose the job.
Apr 22, 18 5:39 pm

Working long, fast paced hours to meet deadlines & being micromanaged by perfectionists. Getting things right can be a stressful if I don't have enough time. In general I have good technical ability and can produce high quality work if I am given enough time.

If it isn't 100% perfect, then its 100% wrong - I hear you, I work for a micromanaging perfectionist - it's important to get that the reason they micromanage is because the people working for them are incompetant 

Apr 22, 18 6:21 pm

yeah and when the designers get it wrong guess who gets to take the call? No, it's not them, it's me. I do not want to be responsible for someone else phoning it in.


What? No one. You draw the shop drawing the architect approves it's their fuckup or the fabricator, never the person drawing the shops.


Why should a project architect put their professional career on the line for some idiot, who cant do things right - put yourself in their shoes - do you want to end up in deposition on a lawsuit? or worse, an involuntary manslaughter charge because a balcony failed because some idiot unlicensed BIM WIT was too lazy to put in the water proofing details, the GC built it wrong, and 8 years later, it collapsed,  people got killed, the architect was put in an orange jumpsuit for several years. you want it it "easy" go work for some bank - architecture doesn't suffer fools lightly -

micromanaging perfectionist? just doing their job, and if that's too stressful for you, then get out

Apr 22, 18 6:30 pm

I have a solution for you if that becomes a problem or just a side-gig to do. Talk about it later.


@ Xenakis, I want to get out. Therefore I made this thread to see what options there are out there for me.


"Why should a project architect put their professional career on the line for some idiot"
Are you talking about your project architect?


Bold wasn't my intention, sorry, tried a break on mobile since enter doesn't work.


Check out the US Army Corps of Engineers. 26,000 of the 37,000 employees are civilian, not military, and do infrastructure work in the US mostly. They have openings for architects all around the country. The architecture work will generally be in support of civil engineering projects. Good pay and promotions and retirement plans, collegial work environment, and the infrastructure outlook seems bright.

Apr 22, 18 6:41 pm

Ugh xenakis that's ridiculous.  Nobody needs to be an asshole manager in this field.  It's not rocket science and for the most part, it's not life or death either.  Anyone who manages their people like that is an incompetent manager and likely extremely insecure.  

There are PLENTY of firms that are not run by morons.  And you do know who you're going to work for -- look at smaller firms where you can interview with the people you'll actually be working for.  I've worked for terrible bosses and good -- and the difference it makes in the level of your life stress is phenomenal.

Apr 22, 18 6:51 pm

You can always take your architecture degree and move into something completely are young and can go learn anything...I bet a lot of other industries would hire you. A college education is great now go do what you want with it...that will make you happy, paid enough to live and fulfilled.

Apr 22, 18 8:50 pm

I don't want to do an MArch. I think that becoming an architect is impossible for me in the future given my circumstances so I think that graduate school would be additional debt and time lost. What other career options would you recommend?


Government.  I worked for the school board. Sooo MANY paid days off.  Got the best pay out of my graduating M.Arch class.  Great benefits and pension.  Job was related but I couldn't pursue licensure -- so I left.  Job was super easy and you work at your own pace.  Bachelors was all u needed for that job too.  Altough they also hire licensed architects.  Will probably apply and come back after completing licensure.

Apr 23, 18 1:44 pm

If you're at a "well regarded practice in a busy city", there is no way it wont be stressful. Actually most practices will be stressful in busy cities.

That said, I would look in the facilities department of your local Educational institutes like colleges. The pay may not be as great, but much less stressful and great benefits. Also, have you looked at positions in the entertainment industry (theme parks, exhibit designs and the like)?

Apr 23, 18 7:57 pm

Well the case with architecture practices is 90% of them are based in big cities right? That's where the work is. Are you referring to facilities management?


Entertainment is typically fast paced with owners making design changes right through to the very end.


tttt, you understand both my inferences - if you are living in a big city, most practices will be stressful. Is it possible to move to a smaller town/suburb? And yes, I was referring to facilities management. I had a few friends work in those kinds of places, and were typically more relaxed.

Steeplechase, I worked for a while in an entertaiment design studio, and it was much less stress than architecture. The amount of changes was many, but if you worked on the creative side with the showset designers etc, it could be less stressful.


maybe it depends on the place, I did exhibit design for a short time and it was the most stressful place I've ever seen, surprised no one killed themselves

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won and done williams

Anything that will get you out into the field which means more walking, fresh air, etc. and less time in front of a computer under soul-crushing fluorescent light. Perhaps an inspector for a building department - but I have no first hand knowledge of that to know.

University facilities offices seem very chill, but incredibly boring. (Maybe that's what you are looking for.)

Working in a historic preservation office also seems very calming whether that be municipal or for a museum/foundation.

Apr 24, 18 9:53 am

My aunt is a fire inspector. She has no architectural background; they teach you everything on the job according to her. She loves getting to go to places around town and tell them what to do.  It fits her personality.   

Maybe working for SHPO would be ok because it seems that every person at any SHPO I've ever worked with loves to take their time.  Non-profit work is pretty rough though.  I'd stay away from that unless you're dead set on it.

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