Feeling like I have to start over (salary-wise) when doing an adjacent career move


I've been working at my current arch office for three years now, but exclusively in an architecture-adjacent role: acquisitions and visualizations, rendering, pretty pictures. I'm at least halfway decent at my job, so I'm currently earning €3700/mo. gross (this is in Europe, still not a lot, but it's at least the national median..)

However I never really wanted to go the arch-vis route, despite my competency in it, and as my current employer is too departmentalized (and I think honestly wants me to continue in this role) I've been looking at other offices. However, as I haven't much experience in "actual" architecture, ie. delivery phases, bureaucracy, consultant interaction, I feel like I have to start over from square one and apply for intern positions, and request intern salaries (here it's about €3000/mo.) After all, if I don't want to do any more arch-vis, I shouldn't take my arch-vis experience into account.

Does this reasoning make sense? Am I shooting myself in the foot by doing this, or is it a necessary step if I wanna escape my current trajectory?

May 23, 22 3:33 pm

Your experience has value and if you undercut that value you may be left in a position of resentment that will not lead to success in the role. Demand more and then make your employment worth it. Career changes are hard, and there may be some stepping back but should in no way be "back to the beginning" 

May 23, 22 3:59 pm  · 
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True, that is the pragmatic approach. When I went from being a video game environment designer to architecture, I took a 50% pay cut, started out at a top firm working on great projects. Sometimes, we have to make sacrifices to self actualize - as long as it doesn't disaffect others(family responsibilities) - that being said, was 15 years ago - in today's economy, I don't recommend it - 

May 23, 22 5:08 pm  · 
 ·  1

Your experience is a little different code / zonker. You were 50 years old and had already worked and saved for 30 years. Not to mention a few other things that put in a better position than 90% of the population.

May 23, 22 5:31 pm  · 


The skills you have right now have value.  You may not like doing visualizations however it still has value.  A firm should be willing to pay your for the skills you bring to the firm.  Don't sell yourself short about you worth.  Don't take the BS advice from people that you'll need to take a pay cut because you don't have a few years experience picking up redlines.  

Be honest with firms about your experience and about what you're looking for and things will be fine. 

May 23, 22 5:33 pm  · 
5  · 

I've never seen an employer discount somebody's experience the way the OP thinks is going to happen.  Three years in an office is three years experience regardless of what the employer had you doing.  I think a new employer somewhere out there will be welcoming of someone who wants to seriously learn and commit to developing new skills.

May 23, 22 6:17 pm  · 
1  · 

Its a wise move to get away from visualizations. Firms I worked for used to have a 3d viz "department" who all got canned with increasing reliance on outsourced renderings. Nowadays, outsourcing is getting to be less prevalent cuz of Enscape and Lumion being so accessible and recent grads being talented enough to crank beautiful stuff on these software. Its a dying specialization, run away from it.

May 23, 22 6:28 pm  · 
2  · 

Yes, that seems to be the tendency.. All my juniors are using Enscape and out source to China or Poland when we need fancier renderings on a client's dime. Perhaps for the OP, he/she may benefit from applying small studio offices where they can utilize the rendering skills and allow him/her to ease into other areas..

May 23, 22 6:49 pm  · 
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I would also suggest to the OP to seek work at a small firm in order to build up faster on the experience they are lacking.

@ Pandekage, I recall that you made a thread about finding a really nice position at a small office of a large firm? Did that not work out for you? Or is it again a visualisation based job?

My opinion is that regardless of the type of work you do, the office experience counts in your favour. If I were you, I wouldn't devalue myself at the pre-employment process. Instead, I would interview, state my strong assets (visualisation, front end design, competitions?) and also state which areas you are seeking to exposure into. If you communicate this clearly and honestly and an offer is made, then you get an idea of how much they value you for.

May 24, 22 12:55 pm  · 

I don't think you need to start from an intern or an entry level position. Chad above provide some good tips, but I would like to emphasize one thing- Market yourself.   

You have three years in arch. viz work so how about presenting yourself as one who is proficient at arch. software? For example, you can say that you know how to set up drawing files, to translate one app to another, to integrate 3D models from different software and know how to produce rendering images for project needs.  

You know how to work with minimal supervision and can deliver outcomes in timely manner.  You are a team player and know how to work with others well in order to deliver final products. Sell your strengths to your interviewers.. 

Also, I would suggest present everything in positive lights.  If they ask you why you are jumping or any questions regarding your last work, then you don't have to be negative about your past experience.  Focus on the good things you learned and what you hope to do at a new job.  

May 23, 22 6:36 pm  · 
1  · 

Yes, try to present yourself as a teachable person with good work habits.

May 23, 22 8:09 pm  · 

Also, if you are good at using Revit or other BIM software, sell that hard.  One of the previous firms i worked at hired this really young man who presented himself as a BIM expert and a BIM Manager... Back in 2015, that firm paid him over 100K USD salary, whereas me with 7 years experience was making around $75K... 

May 24, 22 12:59 pm  · 

If I were in the OP shoes, I would avoid branding myself as a BIM guy coming from a background in front end design. My understanding is that the value of BIM skills reaches its peak when combined with construction knowledge, which the OP is lacking. Therefore, if they come in as a BIM guru, they would be reduced to an even worse pigeonhole (copy-paste BIM technician) than the one they are in. I am not sure if you understand what I mean, but others on here should be able to confirm that the OP should preferably aspire to develop primarily as an architect, with an architectural skillset. Just my 2 cents.

May 24, 22 1:09 pm  · 
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Yes, I agree with you.  I noticed that my previous statement was misleading.  The OP should state that he knows how to use Revit, if he does, but should not present himself as a BIM manager.  If the OP knows Revit good enough to set up drawings, in making corrections, creating families, linking/coordinating other discipline models, then that could be pretty good skills at his level.

 I too think that a true BIM manager needs to have significant back end construction knowledge. I just wanted to point out that there are many who will fake it until they make it.   I had a gripe with that young dude who turned out to be a dud later on.  

May 24, 22 1:53 pm  · 

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