Thinking about dropping arch



I’m currently an architecture major seeking a 5year March and after my third year feeling a lot less passionate and also have talked and read a lot about post graduation and getting a job on how underpaid architects are compared to the work they do and most don’t even get to design but work on other things, anyway I’m looking into conste management and saw the salary upgrade and not only that ofcourse but I think it’s within the realm of what I like, buildings, construction. When I started architecture it was my passion because I wanted to have a job where I do t do the same thing every day, I wanted to be hands on and on the site but I guess architects don’t this very much ? I read a lot about CM and know that it is also stressful but I’m debating it and need some advice or suggestions

Sorry about the lack of grammar, English is not my first language and also typed fast . 

May 9, 19 10:40 am

Construction management won't likely be much hands on either. Most likely Excel hell. 

May 9, 19 10:52 am

Construction managers tend to have higher salaries early in their careers than architecture grads do, but at this point (20+ years out of architecture school) I make more than the 90th percentile for CM's salaries (according to Dept of Labor stats for 2018), and over the course of my career I will come out significantly ahead of the typical CM in terms of lifetime earnings. 

As for getting to design as young architect:  it's really not difficult to find a job where you have a real design role. What  "design" entails though tends to be a much broader range of tasks than the endless fiddling with sketches and models that take up 95% of your attention in an academic studio.  But if it's the more mundane technical and administrative tasks that are turning you off from architecture then I can't see how construction management really is any more appealing, since it's all of the administrative tasks and none (or very little) of the design. 

The CMs I know spend most of their time in spreadsheets or walking the job site with their clipboards and checklists - so yes they're on site, but "hands on" not so much!  If that appeals to you then go for it.  There's little reason to keep studying something you don't enjoy or want to go into - but it just sounds like maybe you're leaving one thing because you didn't exactly understand what it entailed, and going into something else that you don't exactly understand either.  Maybe shadow a CM for a bit before you make any decisions.

May 9, 19 11:19 am

I’d shadow both jobs or intern both. Don’t drop just start taking courses outside of the March that are more targeted to what you want to do. You are already 3 years in? Lots of money wasted if you just switch and graduate later. I worked in architecture firms for 7 years and got my license. It was extremely boring and low paid to just fiddle with details and fire rated details and work for people who had no idea how to properly run a business. I’m not CM now but I work for a GC as a site engineer. Super hands on, lots of client exposure, field personal exposure, exposure with working with architects. You are essentially managing and directing right out of the gates. You also are the one to work with your construction experts to fix issues the architect never bothered to think out when they were making sketch up nonsense. Yes I use excel but just to keep track of my extremely dynamic and fast paced jobs. Additionally, there’s 27 yr/olds making more than most of the principals I worked with at the architecture firms I was at. Architecture is really low paid. You need to be okay with just doing “fine” a lot of people will tell you on this site, I figured if you are working might as well be getting paid.  

May 9, 19 11:51 am

How did you find the transition from thinking like an "architect" to a "CM/Project manager"? I find that the architectural training both in school and during the internship doesn't really prepare you for the realities of construction.

And I agree, architects in general are underpaid relative to other professions. Majority of registered architects are still working under the principals and will most likely never ever stamp a drawing. Here in my jurisdiction, the cost to running your own practice is increasing exponentially... liability insurance, equipment, software, rent etc.


It’s wasnt too much of a switch for me. I always thought very practically about what you can do vs what you could do. That got me stuck as a drafter in architecture but it’s highly sought after in CM. Speaking of liability yea, I had a few jobs lined up to start my own thing and realized the cost of insurance also needed to be multiplied by 10 years if only did a few jobs I’d still have 10 years of insurance to pay, plus deductibles, just didn’t make sense.


Thanks for replying, I’m not sure how to approach shadowing for someone and also I do like being very organizational and I grew up with my father as a contractor however he was undocumented and got paid less then a CM obviously, so I like the on site part of the job, and I read that you can also still design as a CM which I want for whenever I can do it or a client asks for it. I’ve always been told I design simple but with good concept and it always turns out to be a good design, kind of “simplicity is more” maybe because growing up with my father I know what can be done and think more realistically. I will try to talk to both a CM and an Acrhitect and see what they recommend. Maybe this one professor made me lose passion and I don’t know if I should stop pursuing architecture or maybe I just wasn’t meant for it, if I want to give up this easy and am interested still in other majors


In my opinion, I think this boils down to our inherit personality we are born with and understanding how best to operate within it in order to achieve our fullest potential. Discovering it or coming to grips with this reality will perhaps provide more clarity on what your own next steps are. At least for me, this is what I have started to accept as I uncover more about the architectural profession.


It's good that you're willing to recognize the loss of passion.  Lots of people end up staying in when they know they should get out because fellow architects hit them with the usual shaming language.  It is not a character flaw to decide that you don't want to be an architect after all.

May 9, 19 2:50 pm

Well said. A big problem in topics like these are the pervasive survivorship bias and "high horse" syndrome of several members on this forum. The whole notion of "there is no excuse because if I can do it, then you can do it too" response as the end all be all truth is just simply ignorant of the fact that anecdotal experiences are their opinion and not fact. Let alone the humble bragging and condescending language being used.


After switching, I realized it’s really the only thing many architects can hold onto for self esteem. This idea of misunderstood genius that has to keep owners and contractors in check but whose value is so misunderstood. Makes for a very off putting type of personality. The reality is there are lots of types of genius, a genius artist is very different than a genius mathematician but neither is better than the other just different.


Amen. Ego is a huge plague in the industry and is a bigger issue than those working in the profession would like to admit. Now, I'm not suggesting other professions don't have it but the problem comes with the nature of subjectivity. It is frustrating to work in an "idealistic" environment when the realities of construction, finances and feasibility are often ignored and only to be addressed too late in the process. Thus fees that would be allocated for CA are reduced to make up for the lack of foresight and over indulgence on 'design' hours during the conceptual, SD, DD phase... all because Mr. Fancy Pants wanted to play "art" and flex their ego.

I'd like to hear more about your transition, as I'm contemplating a career shift. Any way I could reach out to you?

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