Architecture as a career, M.Arch programs... help


Hi all, 

I am finishing up my senior year at a reputable state school majoring in Biology and Science Comm. I'm slapping myself because as I apply to soul-sucking communications and research jobs I'm discovering the world of architecture. Architecture isn't offered as an undergrad program here, but I want to explore it as a career. Can someone lend me a little perspective? I'm reading about M.Arch programs online and feel a little disconnected. How hard are these programs to get into? I would have to take a gap year (or two). What is the best way to use my time (I'm considering Americorps)? Will I be considered as an applicant with my background (I have taken calc and physics)? 

I've struggled to find a good fit during undergrad. I love that I can be creative in Communications, but 9-5 marketing and writing positions sound like hell. A research position would suffocate me. Either way, I love to create, but can be very analytical and I value practicality. I know that the majority of architects work in firms where drawing/designing is a relatively small portion of the job and that's okay with me. I like the idea of being with large-scale, useful projects from inception through completion. I think I'd find satisfaction working with sustainable architectural practices and would love to be part of a shift to green buildings. Current architects: what do you like/dislike about your job? Is there anything important that I should know?

Any input is greatly appreciated. 

Feb 20, 19 8:31 pm

If you think a marketing 9-5 is soul sucking. How do you feel about drafting bathroom stalls 9-9? But wait ! that’s not all! with a salary significantly lower than your marketing starting salaries. 

Feb 20, 19 9:17 pm
Non Sequitur

What is it about architecture that you've "started to discover"?

This is not a profession for week-end warrior romantics.  It still takes a long time to (ie. decades) to get to the point were you may be able to make significant moves.

Feb 20, 19 10:40 pm

I hope I'm not romanticizing the field. As I search for jobs I'm struggling to find a purpose that I identify with. I've regretted not pursuing an engineering degree for a while but felt like it was too late to make a major switch. I like the idea of creation, whether it's bathroom stalls or commercial buildings. I want a job that envelops me and gives me a reason to work hard. I want to develop a technical skill that I can improve for years. Maybe it's wishful thinking.


Don't listen to these trolls. Do what makes you happy.

Architecture is a broad and fertile industry filled with opportunity. You will have no problem finding a path that fulfills your needs and interests. Good luck!

Feb 21, 19 4:13 am

I don't see why your background would hold you back.  You'd be looking at a 3 year Masters of Architecture program.  A ton (most?) of the schools now that have a traditional 2 year program now also have a 3 year program for those coming from non-architecture backgrounds.

In the meantime, I'd suggest using your communications degree and try to find a marketing job in an architecture firm.  This will at least put you in a position to be able to work around architects, learn some of the lingo, and see what the day-to-day is like.  You may find that this fulfills what you are looking for without having to go back and spend a ton of money on more education.  If you can afford to supplement this experience (with time and money) by taking some community college courses in softwares like AutoCAD, Revit, Photoshop, etc., that would help move you along and you could potentially begin to build a portfolio for applications.

The thing to know, in my opinion, is that there is a huge gap between what you do in school and what happens in an office day-to-day.

Feb 21, 19 8:27 am

You mention drawing and design being a small portion of the work. That's not true. You draw all day unless you have someone else drawing for you. That is the medium of the work. I draw 10 hours straight at times. Throw out my back about twice a year just from drawing!

Feb 21, 19 8:55 am

Read "Architect" by Roger Lewis.  Good overall view of the profession.  You need to decide whether the profession is going to give you what you are looking for before you start shopping for schools.

Feb 21, 19 9:17 am

Your biology background might come in handy if you choose to (within an M.Arch or with a post-professional program) go the computational design / design programming route!

Programs like ICD/ITKE's ITECH, the AA's EmTech/DRL, ETH Zurich's MAS DFAB, etc. consider biomimetics (or biomimicry, might wanna read about this) as a paradigm and consideration in building technology, and best aided or designed with today's computational design tools (grasshopper, dynamo, etc).

Feb 22, 19 3:42 am
I’d recommend attending summer programs like GSD’s Design Discovery if you’re interested in exploring the field/don’t have much experience with architecture as of now. Other schools have similar programs (I know GSAPP has Intro to Architecture) but I attended the one at the GSD and loved it. If anything, it could provide you with 2-3 projects you can include in your portfolio should you decide to apply for an M Arch. Like thatsthat mentioned, many schools cater to the fact that not everyone applying has an architecture background - I’m sure you’d be able to include your communications work in your application portfolio as well!
Feb 22, 19 4:55 am

Architecture is a good option with fullest career opportunities. What I would suggest you is to go for your interest rather than going after some lucrative career option. If you choose something you are interested into, it itself help you get more opportunities to earn name and fame...I hope you understand my concern. 

Feb 26, 19 5:31 am
Dr. Architecture

May I suggest you step back and review some resources on the process of becoming an architect.  If possible, contact an architect and possibly visit an architecture program. - has a link to all summer programs in the country.

Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design - 3rd Edition

Feb 26, 19 10:31 am

run like hell. this profession pays shit. I’ve been interviewing like crazy and no one wants to pay worth a damn. After 10 years I’m burnt out and mentally and physically exhausted of the bullshit. 

Feb 26, 19 8:29 pm

Use your network and see if you have a friend of a friend who is in the design and construction industry, talk to them. Maybe you can get a tour of an office or of a project/ site. Also someone mentioned getting a job in the marketing group of an arch office, that's a great idea. Good luck!

Feb 27, 19 9:56 am

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