Another guy asking about architecture school


So I recently just transitioned into a "jr. draftsman/architect apprentice" position for the construction company I've been working for and have fallen in love with it. I have no degree or previous experience other than a couple AutoCAD classes in high school and at that time I was planning on being a marine biologist so my reasoning behind enrolling in those classes was more for the easy A than a passion for architecture. But now after a few years of manual labor and only about a month on the design side of the company, I want to learn as much as I can about this field and see where it takes me.

I've seen plenty of questions about architecture school but none from somebody in my position as it is a very unique one. I'm 24 and have struggled with mental health issues causing me to have already attended 3 different colleges and drop out of all of them so I'm coming here to look for advice. Is it ridiculous to try and apply to architecture schools now? Will any of them even consider someone with such an unstable (yet stellar) academic history? Are there any online options so I can continue my current job as a supplement to my education?

The rest of the story is too long to explain and not relevant anyway but I really feel as if I've found what I was looking for as far as careers go, I just don't know anything about how to advance within it. I've been reading books on design, watching lectures and youtube videos, etc. and have already learned a lot but my intellectual curiosity has always been insatiable and I want to know I'm learning the right things from the right people. I enjoy the company I'm with now, I just don't think I can get the same quality education from them that I could get from a proper institution so any help/guidance would be greatly appreciated.

I've included renderings of a hobby project I've been working on since becoming obsessed with the CAD software I now have access to so you can see how much time I've been spending with this stuff outside of work and any constructive criticism would also be appreciated. It's obviously pretty basic but I still feel like I was able to somewhat come up with/express a concept given the fact I've never done it before. Thank you!

Nov 19, 19 6:21 pm

I'd suggest finding a design firm that will hire you rather than going back to school right away. You will get hands on design experience with people who have been through school - you can ask them questions and get a better feel for the profession and the pedagogy in schools.

If you do a year or two there, you will be in a better position to apply to schools and be more prepared for design education. Good luck.

Nov 19, 19 8:07 pm

Depending on where you live you can get licensed without the degree with work enough experience. Canada and UK (RIBA) have a home studyt option to obtain license for people employed in the field if you live in one of those places.  I think the US should offer an option like the UK and Canada, it would be cheaper and help offset living costs while studying, perhaps open architecture up to more people from lower means.

Nov 19, 19 9:44 pm

We have some states with experience based path to architecture with some cases, you might get some credit for education but can't predict how much the OP would get.


Thanks for the feedback everyone, I live in Hawai'i which offers a career-experience pathway but if I'm reading the info in the link correctly, I would need verification of 11 years work experience and I don't really want to wait that long if it's possible for me to start working at a more impactful level in half that time.

Nov 20, 19 2:59 pm

The “official” career path is minimum 8 years, 5 of which are wasted in school. Go the work route, you will be much farther ahead.

atelier nobody

I'm gonna disagree with Miles - I did the work experience path, and I think the school path is definitely the path of least resistance. This is assuming that school is feasible financially - don't go deep into debt (11 years may seem like a long time to get your license, but it might take much, much longer to pay off student loans).


I think avoiding more debt and continuing the work route would be great, the problem is I don't believe the company I currently work for can teach me everything I want to learn so I don't want to keep heading towards what very well may be a dead end. Our lead draftsman/"architect" doesn't have a degree either and wasn't in this career field until two and a half years ago which I wasn't aware of until I started working under him. But I suppose that isn't to say I can't stay here until I reach that dead end wherever it may be and then hope that I'm employable enough to transition to an actual firm down the line.

atelier nobody

If the person you are currently working under is not a licensed architect, then it will either not count toward your 11 years, or perhaps count for partial credit - you need to get into a real architecture firm ASAP. It sounds like you have at least the skills required for an entry-level draftsman.

If you have no luck getting a real architecture job, then another option (which is what I did) is to look into 2-year programs.


Okay that's exactly what I was afraid of so I'll definitely start exploring and hopefully pursuing other options as soon as possible whatever they may be. Thanks for the guidance.

Wood Guy

I enthusiastically second what atelier nobody and Miles are saying. Although I have a BS in engineering, when I was younger I did not have good advice or mentors, or know what I wanted to do, so now at 46 I've worked for 12 years at a design/build firm without a licensed architect on staff, and 5 years on my own (plus some other experiences) so although my state offers a work path to licensure, I'd have to start from scratch--basically the same position you're in right now. I've done ok and now compete with architects on residential projects (and sometimes hire architects to help me) but I wish daily that I had made smarter choices when I was younger.

11 years will go by in a flash. I'd recommend taking a few studio classes for fun, and some building science courses as well.


I'd say take the 11 year route to licensure. It might seem like a long time, but remember that you'll be earning money while you go down that path. It might not be the quickest route, but it will get you there, and you will be contributing to architecture while you get there.

Do some research into AXP hours, as these fulfill the experience requirement for a license within the US. They have multiple categories which cover things like marketing/BD, running an office, design, and on-site work, which might not be available at where you work now. You'll also need a licensed architect to sign off on those hours, so getting into an architecture firm is a top priority if you go that route.

I'm going to take a potentially different route to the school question. Architecture schooling can be pretty brutal to some people. I've seen people cry over bad critiques, stay up for 3 days straight, and drop out multiple times. I myself got screamed at for being infantile and childish in my undergrad by a professor (Ironic, I know.). Some people come in with a thick skin, some develop it in school, some can never separate themselves from their work.

Looking at the images you posted, that project feels pretty sterile to me. I couldn't personally see something like that being accepted as a passing project where I went to school.

If it upsets you to hear that, school might not be the best idea. If you're open to criticism, and are willing to rework your design for the Nth time based on someone elses totally unfounded opinion, you're good to go.

In the end, I'd say your mental health, and wallet, are more important then getting it done quickly. Find yourself an architecture firm, work there for 11 years while expanding your own horizons by learning about design theory, and asking plenty of questions. Make a ton of money you wouldn't have otherwise, and then pick up your license. Get dinner at the most expensive place in down with the money you saved from not paying for an education :)

Nov 21, 19 11:14 pm

Thank you for your advice, I am definitely setting my sights on looking for opportunities with a firm after I learn enough from my current job to make that transition. Not because I can't take criticism though, nobody criticizes me harder than I criticize myself haha but what I do struggle with is feeling like I'm not learning or progressing so I'll work on finding an environment where that isn't the case.


If you have a slight mental health issue, stay away from architecture school and the profession as far as you can. Work, deadline, salary, office culture management, to name a few, can make someone go even more crazy.

Architecture profession is not as glamours as how it is portray on tv/movies. it is a crappy start and only the lucky few makes it big in the end of their career.   

Nov 22, 19 11:28 am

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