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designermom

Hello-

I have been in Architecture for over 30 years and I'm done. I have a Master's in Architecture and am licensed. I'm not old enough (or ready to) retire, yet. What other career choices are out there for someone like me? Presently, I am a project architect at a small firm in Florida. I'm just sick of what I do and am ready for a change.

Any and all ideas are welcome!

 
Jun 23, 20 7:41 am
archanonymous

I read a study once that the "job polar opposite" of an architect is a butcher in a meatpacking plant. So maybe try that? Or you could be an artisininal sausage maker. That sounds pretty cool.


Jun 23, 20 9:36 am  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

can always apply to be PotUS.

 · 
designermom

anyone can be PotUS!!!

2  · 
designermom

thank you...I needed a laugh!!

 · 
randomised

a vegan butcher to make artisanal sausages sans meat? 

 · 
square.

yeah, i'd avoid meatpacking plants these days if i were you...

2  · 
thatsthat

Have you thought about being on the product rep side? You could definitely leverage your experience to be a knowledgable resource for other architects.  I've also had friends who weren't crazy about design and went the owner's rep route.  Another, probably less lucrative, option would be to see if there are any vacancies in teaching in an associates program at a local community college.  A family member retired (at age 40) from a city government job (where he was head of water) and taught plumbing certification courses at his local CC.  He got to use his existing knowledge base, but without all the job pressure. It helped him keep his résumé active enough that when he was ready to go back, he got hired on at another city and eventually became city manager.

Good luck to you!

Jun 23, 20 9:51 am  · 
3  · 
designermom

All really good ideas! Thank you!

1  · 
Formerlyunknown

I've worked with a few people who have left architecture to take the sales rep route. Two of them later returned to the architecture firms they'd left a few years before, because it turned out architecture was easier than the sales rep life. It's different kinds of pressure: aggressive sales quotas, constant travel, and being called about projects only when things are going wrong.

4  · 
thatsthat

Good things to factor in, formerly, as I didn't even think of those factors. In mentioning the product rep path, I was thinking of a friend that was more in the FFE realm. I would presume FFE has less HSW issues than products more integrated into the construction of the building. However, I have heard stories of FFE reps dealing with owners who are less familiar with purchasing contracts and IDs who like to put things where the architect didn't intend, creating ADA clearance issues. The OP's background would be an asset in both cases.

 · 

The sales rep life looks like it's a lot more stress and work than an architect. My father worked in sales and that was a career where whenever you left the house you where working. Maybe look into being a specialist consultant? Building envelope, code review, inspections?

 · 
archanonymous

Code consulting must be so easy. You have 0 liability as you aren't stamping anything, and 95% of the responses I've ever gotten from a code consultant could basically be summarized as "did you check the code?"

2  · 
Ithilween

If you're done with all the management b*llsh*t that comes with the profession or not being able to do the good old architecture (a.k.a. massive, epic and almost immortal structures people in the day would respect and transcend centuries) try going for environment designer focusing on structure/urban design for videogames, movies, etc. 

Jun 23, 20 10:04 am  · 
 · 
TED

I have my eyes on re-aligning my career to something that has to do with nature - environment. It's always been part of my being but now looking at shifting to something I love. Being outside all day would be great. If I could get a gig riding a cycle that would be perfect. I am not materialistic, don't own a car or TV and just sorted free accommodation for the long term future.  

Follow your heart, make a difference in the world. You will love yourself in the morning and will live longer. 

Jun 23, 20 11:09 am  · 
2  · 
designermom

I love that! Thanks, Ted!

1  · 
gwharton

I've "quit" architecture twice so far during my career. It obviously didn't take. But both times, I took the things I enjoyed about architecture and tried to apply them to other domains where I had interest and experience. Because I am an addict in a codependent abusive relationship with architecture, I only stayed out about a year each time before crawling back. But to the extent that I did do it that way, it worked.

Being trained as an architect gives you a systematic way of thinking about organizing creativity, solving problems in a complex, fluid environment, and being very goal-focused in the middle of chaos. Those skills are broadly applicable outside of architecture. So...what else are you good at where you could apply that stuff?

Jun 23, 20 1:17 pm  · 
3  · 
square.

^this. i'm eying my first round of quitting and look forward to my pathetic, obsequious return one day

 · 
atelier nobody

"...addict in a codependent abusive relationship with architecture..."

I actually lasted 3 years as a plan checker, but the worst year and a half of my life were when I was involuntarily forced into construction management. At least in CM the money was good.

1  · 
gwharton

The first time I quit, it was to be a futures and options trader. Which turns out to be a vastly more stressful and emotionally abusive undertaking than architecture. I learned a lot about myself doing that, including the limit of my risk tolerance.

3  · 

Can you share more about why you went back to arch and how did it go? I've been one year out of architecture, in product design right now. I can't shake the core of myself that's been trained to be and will always to an architect... I'm drawn back to the mind space of being an architect. As I'm thinking about going back, I'm scared of the grind, and neck pain that I finally recovered from

 · 
gwharton

Ray, I went back both times because I really, really missed it and had this deep sense that I couldn't NOT do it. When I made the decision to return to architecture, in both cases it was with a whole lot of fresh perspective, and that made doing it a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I also had a clearer idea of what I personally like and miss about being an architect when I'm not architecting, so focused my return search on those things specifically. In the first case (1996), it took about a month for me to find a job after I started looking. In the second (2004), the job found me first and enticed me back.

 · 

I left fulltime employment after ten years to be self-employed doing residential remodel (with a partner who was already established). That was my dream job. Then 2008 hit, so I got a full-time job at a museum in the Facilities department, managing internal facilities projects and maintenance. That was fun enough, and I liked the people I worked with, and it was stable, but ultimately boring. After five years I went back to full-time traditional firm employment, like gwharton I got sucked back. 

In my mind I'd like to be doing development (including design) of missing middle housing.

Jun 24, 20 9:04 am  · 
7  · 
Bench

Donna - did you find the facilities management side helped in your career development for when you ultimately decided to return to traditional practice? Were you able to maintain your skillset, or even upskill at all from the experience?

I was able to get a behind-the-scenes tour at one of our more well known projects a few years back. The guy giving me the tour was essentially the EOR who partnered with our office; the client group ended up just offering him the GM job for the whole complex after it opened up. Sounded like he absolutely loved the position.

 · 
joseffischer

define middle housing?

 · 
randomised

Missing Middle Housing is a range of house-scale buildings with multiple units—compatible in scale and form with detached single-family homes—located in a walkable neighborhood.

4  · 

Bench: The problem is...the knowledge I gained in facilities was to always, always looks out for the maintenance team, and that frequently translates into design ideas that, well, are boring and simple, because I know that the staff is going to hate me if I do something complex and cool. Current example: I'm detailing a window shade that's up above the dropped ceiling quite a ways and I know how I want it to *look* but I also know the slot is too narrow for a maintenance person to get up in there to service the shade when it inevitably breaks. So, I find myself fighting others, and myself, over detailing a lot.

3  · 
archanonymous

Donna, maybe you could develop some sort of cam system that drops the shade mounting down when it is time for maintenance? Overall though, I agree with your sentiment. Things that make the building engineer happy rarely make the architect happy, but sometimes it all comes together!

1  · 
citizen

Excellent discussion. "Who will someday curse the day I was born?" is a great question to ask when laying things out, and especially when detailing. Designing something attractive AND accessible/serviceable is the goal, but can be difficult.

 · 

Donna, it's only a problem if you 1) ignore the detailing issues and thereby make it someone else's issue later, or 2) can't come up with a way to meet both the design intent and the maintenance criteria. The reality is, you're a talented designer and I'm sure you'll come up with a workable solution. In this way, the knowledge you gained isn't a problem, it's an asset.

 · 
archi_dude

Dropped ceiling? Wouldnt you just remove the adjacent ceiling tiles to access?

 · 
archi_dude

Ive been increasingly jealous of blue collar workers especially as I work on a jobsite now. Show up, demand everything is solved for them, leave after 8 hours, full lunch, and yes, most make more than college grads. Escaping the demand for unpaid overtime is the most appealing to me. 

Jul 3, 20 9:17 am  · 
 · 
Wood Guy

I did it for ten+ years. It has its perks, but the grass is always greener. Design is much easier on the body.

 · 
Non Sequitur

most of my GCs can't count because they are missing fingers.

 · 
bowling_ball

Having worked construction many summers, I'm glad I found a way to earn a white collar degree (and job). As Wood Guy says above, labor is way too hard on the body in the long run. My father's body was completely destroyed by the time he turned 50 and at 65 now, it's not like he can afford to retire. You may start out making a little more at the beginning, but that should change within a few years and at 40 now, there's no way I'd be making what I do if I still worked on site.

 · 
archi_dude

Yes, agree with the above statements but was referring to electricians, welders, elevator techs, crane operators, metal workers and other higher skilled trades. Obviously you don't want to be building formwork, but those others have pretty labor un-intensive jobs, out earn even some Jr. construction PM's and can transition into other leadership roles. Also, besides one asphalt foreman missing an eye who still refuses to wear safety glasses I've met zero laborers and managers with missing body parts. Safety is a pretty important aspect of the job these days, unless your residential, throw out all of my above statements.

 · 
t a z

Nickelodeon! (sorry if the paywall pops up)

Career Reboot: How an Architect Ended Up Directing at Nickelodeon

A successful architect reinvented herself as a comedy writer; ‘Really listen to yourself to see if you’re not happy’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/career-reboot-how-an-architect-ended-up-directing-at-nickelodeon-11594483446?mod=hp_listc_pos2

Jul 12, 20 11:52 am  · 
 · 
citizen

I've considered this same career change, and would love to read more about that case. (Damn you, WSJ pay wall!) I also have a few friends who are writers for tv, movies, and/or comedy. Overall, alongside bouts of fun and enjoyment, it sounds like a very demanding profession with lots of frustration, uncertainty, pressure, and employment gaps-- if you're lucky enough to get a job in the first place. 

Huh... that reminds of another line of work.

 · 
Linguae Recta

.

 · 
OneLostArchitect

thought about getting a city / government job? Good pay and benefits 

Jul 12, 20 8:56 pm  · 
 · 
PaulKersey

designermom

Good for you, get out and don't look back - consider real estate as I am. I'm tired of seeing agents make insane amounts of money on recent projects I have worked on. Too bad architects can't have a future sale commission compensation clause. 

In the past 4 years 2 different residential projects I have worked on - one apartment that was purchased for over 50 million with a multi million dollar renovation, the other a 2+ year restoration of a project I worked on many years ago - sold for 30 million - I'm sure the commissions on this 2 properties is more than almost any architect will make in a lifetime. First apartment - agent sold to the client in a week - oh sure probably a few more weeks of paperwork, second, sold in a few months. I know these are extremes (well, not where I live). I just don't understand how people fight tooth and nail to pay architects next to nothing and are willing to pay such substantial broker commission fees.

Jul 17, 20 6:11 pm  · 
1  · 

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