Carpenter to Architect/civil engineer



Just wondering if anyone has found themselves in a similar situation and has 2 cents they could spare. I am a Carpenter/builder  who is interested in pursuing civil engineering/architecture. My grand plan is to open my own cool design and construct firm, with a focus on sustainable building practices, materials development and Progressive designs. I completed a diploma of engineering last year (which is essentially 1st year of a BS) and am set to start my second year in a month, im also 30. The uni im at offers an architectual engineering degree and im thinking of doing a double in civil/archeng.  Would this degree be enough to get my foot in the door at some design firms/without doing a masters? Is doing archeng a good idea? Just hoping to get some opinons as i dont know anyone who has gone down this path.


Jan 24, 22 5:05 pm
Wood Guy

I got into carpentry and design in high school, got a BS in structural engineering and worked as a carpenter/builder for ten years before getting a job as a drafter/designer. Fifteen years later I'm still a residential designer but compete with architects on a similar level (and fee). I never worked in an architecture or engineering firm, only design/build firms, so I can't say what degree path you should follow. I can say that most of my favorite architects have spent time building houses. 

Jan 24, 22 5:20 pm  · 
2  · 
atelier nobody

If you want to become a licensed architect down the line, you'll want either an accredited BArch or MArch (depending on where you are, there might be a path to licensure without the degree, but as a person who took that route myself, I don't recommend it). If you're not concerned with the license, then an engineering degree with carpentry experience would certainly be enough to get you hired in many firms, and having a career like Wood Guy's would certainly be a realistic goal.

Jan 24, 22 6:32 pm  · 
1  · 
Wood Guy

To be clear, and as I think we've discussed before, I would not recommend my career path--if I could start over in this field I would like to think I'd get licensed through normal means, for the additional opportunities that would provide.

Jan 24, 22 7:49 pm  · 
1  · 

It also depends on where sb557 is located. A B.Arch or M.Arch might not mean much. Let's get a little more info before making suggestions.

Jan 27, 22 7:35 pm  · 

I worked as a carpenter for two years before MArch, and it was instrumental to my passion for the field. However. 

If you're intent on entering the industry with a focus on ownership, sustainability, and "progressive" designs I think you would benefit greatly from the more liberal education you'd get at an MArch program. Liberal in the sense that you'll take classes in history and theory, you'll have to write and communicate clearly, you'll have to master a very broad range of skills, etc.

My two cents: sustainability is barely an technical issue at the end of the day (greenwashers would want you to think otherwise). Firms doing interesting work in sustainability aren't just working at the scale of building materials, but also at the scale of financing, programming, scope(!), and client selection. Your greatest impact will be in knowing your region, getting office experience in a specific project type, and becoming familiar with the more complex causes of climate crisis. 

Jan 24, 22 8:50 pm  · 
1  · 

My view is that carpentry is prob the best background for an architect.

If you can tolerate the expense, i'd go for licensure, otherwise you'll top out pretty quickly.  The real $$$ in arch is on the commercial side.  Otherwise you'll be competing against some real crappy guys and dealing with clients who only really understand costs not benefits.

Wood Guy has carved out a pretty good niche and has a lot of really nice work to show so it can certainly be done.

Jan 27, 22 10:46 am  · 
Wood Guy

Haha, thanks Shell, and I see what you did there ;-)

Jan 27, 22 7:58 pm  · 

Not sure going the architect route is the best is you already have your hand in carpentry!... go design build and enjoy your work and avoid the angst of Architecture.  Contractors around these parts are driving some pretty nice Trucks / Sprinter vans!

Feb 2, 22 12:59 pm  · 

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