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Foreign Architect in California

HarrisDsg

Hey guys, 

I’m 29 years old and moved to California a few months ago because of my husband. I’ve worked 5 years with interior design and residential architecture before I came here and I even had my own interior design office in my country (where I’m licensed). I also have a degree in marketing because I thought it could be useful for my business and design projects.

I got a job with an experienced architect (it’s just the two of us in the office) and he’s been mentoring me, helping with the imperial system, all the codes,etc. I’m very thankful for this opportunity, but I see him working and I get frustrated because the only thing he does of his life is work more than 12h a day, including weekends and he doesn’t get paid enough. He gets medium/large commercial projects and makes like 90k a year, has an old ugly car.  I don’t want this kind of life for myself. 

I don’t know if I’m being unreasonable, but is this the standard life of an architect in the USA or California? I wanna start a family and buy a house with my husband, but I wanna have time for family, friends, hobbies, trips, have a balanced life, is it possible when you’re an architect here? 

I’m not gonna put effort to get my license if I won’t be able to be happy. I want a fair pay for the amount of hours I put in, that’s all I need. I can also work with interior design or marketing, I don’t know what would be better. 
What’s your opinion about it? 

 
Oct 3, 22 12:57 pm
atelier nobody

In my experience, the larger the firm, the better both the pay and life/work balance will be (there are, of course, exceptions). For a sole practitioner with one employee, 60+ hour weeks for about $90K doesn't seem too far out of the norm (although I'd personally hope to be making more than that if I were working that much).

Oct 3, 22 3:39 pm  · 
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That is NOT the norm for sole practitioners.  Either your boss is incompetent or they are CHOOSING to work that much.  

I've known (know) a dozen sole practitioners.  Only one of of them worked that many hours and it's because they chose to do so.  They also made about 40% more than that in a smaller midwestern area.  

Oct 3, 22 6:48 pm  · 
1  · 
sameolddoctor

Well most likely this sole practioner is an Architect (with a capital A), trying to do highly custom stuff and spending too much time on small things. If he's making only 90k you need to bail


Oct 3, 22 8:00 pm  · 
2  · 
HarrisDsg

It’s great to know that it’s not the normal around here, I’m so relieved. I’ve been so disappointed lately because of it, all I want is a balanced life.

And I agree, my boss is very perfectionist and changes his mind about the project all the time, we lose a lot of time with rework because of it. 

Oct 9, 22 4:21 pm  · 
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sameolddoctor

I am not sure a balanced life exists in this business, but yea, perfectionism does not go very well with profitability...

Oct 10, 22 11:30 am  · 
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It exists if you want it to. Simple as that.

Oct 10, 22 1:13 pm  · 
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N ARS

 I’ve worked 5 years with interior design and residential architecture before I came here and I even had my own interior design office in my country (where I’m licensed).

If you are as good as you think you are, you should be able to get clients and make over 90k but that's on you. But hey you have a marketing degree. 

I don’t know if I’m being unreasonable, but is this the standard life of an architect in the USA or California?  

Educate yourself on how to get licensed in California with in Architecture. 


I wanna start a family and buy a house with my husband, but I wanna have time for family, friends, hobbies, trips, have a balanced life, is it possible when you’re an architect here?  

Depends how much time you want to invest into your business. How good of a business owner are you to grow your business and have a balanced life. High real estate in california do you even have money for the down payment. 

I’m not gonna put effort to get my license if I won’t be able to be happy. 

Thats on you. No one knows the future. But you have to give it  your shot. AKA  land of opportunity. There hunger people than you in the industry. 

I can also work with interior design or marketing. 

You can do what you please. Be an employee and have a fixed salary or go out and find clients and provide a great service and make unlimited money. 


From your statement sounds like your business wasn't a success to live a good life. That's why you moved and abandoned it. Your first impression of the industry is not what everyone lives through. But everyone has their own work ethic and what they perceive as success.  Sounds like you need to outwork your boss or find efficiencies to make more money and time in your life compared to your boss. 

Oct 17, 22 2:53 pm  · 
1  · 
HarrisDsg

My business was going great, actually. I had to move here because of my husband and the economy here is better anyway.

Nov 7, 22 10:21 pm  · 
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HarrisDsg

It didn't send everything that I wrote when I answered N ARS, so continuing...

....my business was going well in my country, but I had to move. So after reading many comments around here I've been talking to my boss to open his mind a little bit about the business part of the firm. He's definitely a very good architect but lacks business strategy knowledge and I can help him with it. 

I started to consider it an opportunity of making this company grow as much as I can, and my boss said that I'd be rewarded fairly if I achieve this goal. Of course, I'll work many extra hours, but I have a good feeling about this.

Nov 8, 22 1:20 am  · 
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