Anyone Burnt out?


I do. 

I am depressed from my low wage job as a prestigious 'architect' working for an amazing 'star architect' making him richer everyday.

I just feel like I am stuck at a place just to finish my damn hours... I am not too enthused with that.  

I just want to get my license and be released from the chains of hell! 

Dec 13, 11 12:27 am

But hey, you've got a job. Since I'm unemployed, things would have to improve for my career to be as bad as yours.



Dec 13, 11 12:37 am

And what awesome things are you gonna do after you get your license? Pull tricks at the truck stop to make your millions? Granted it will be a different kind of hell, but it will still not be fun and games, I assure you.

Dec 13, 11 12:38 am
Justin Ather Maud

Nothing but carbon left here....

Dec 13, 11 7:54 am

It is an up and down road, my friend, and always will be.  Don't think there is a big light at the end of the tunnel, though, best get used to it and prepare for the next black out.

Dec 13, 11 8:31 am

least the guy is making millions in this recession, guess when things turn around he will be a billionaire and share some more with  his dedicated staff.  Dude you could be working on  Big Box Stores or low income housing or not working at all wondering how to pay the cost of the food you consume every day.

Dec 13, 11 9:15 am

You think unemployment is bad?  I've fallen all the way to jail!

Actually, no. Just kidding, yo!

Dec 13, 11 10:47 am

If you don't like your situation, change it. There are thousands who would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Suck it up, cupcake. Instead of pouting, you should be learning what makes your boss so amazing, and appreciate the opportunity of working closely with amazing.

Dec 13, 11 11:42 am

OK..perhaps that was a bit harsh...earlier this year I was in a deep downward funk, feeling sorry for myself that was was not designing the type of stuff I was doing 4 or 5 years ago. The funk lasted a good 6 months, my boss pretty much told me to snap out of it, or else. I did, put a different spin on the realities of things, and moving forward. Sometimes it's difficult to appreciate what you do have and not feel sorry for yourself for the things you don't.

Dec 13, 11 11:54 am

do you do anything fun outside of work? maybe you need a better work/life balance.  things won't get easier the further along you get in this field - better to draw the line now when you don't have as much responsibility.  and I'd view this position as an opportunity to learn - be annoying and bug people about things you don't know - and don't take it personally if they get all pissy at you.  it makes the day go faster.


and - you can always ask for a raise if you think that might help...  if not - take a vacation.

Dec 13, 11 11:59 am
On the fence

I was told that as long as you love what you do it wouldn't ever be a problem.

Dec 13, 11 12:10 pm


"I am depressed from my low wage job as a prestigious 'architect' working for an amazing 'star architect' making him richer everyday.


I just feel like I am stuck at a place just to finish my damn hours... I am not too enthused with that. 

I just want to get my license and be released from the chains of hell! "

I don't believe it - There are 14 million unemployed out there and 200 - 300 applicants per architecture job, and you are depressed. 

I had to work for free for a 1 year, and I probably get paid less than you do,  I am grateful everyday I walk in this office, and you sir complain? 

People succeed because they do what it takes - but you complain - How can you ever be an architect when you fail to demonstrate a can do attitude?

rather than react, take some personal responsibility and do what it takes


Dec 13, 11 1:30 pm

"OK..perhaps that was a bit harsh..." --  nope, Kevin, it was just about right. 

OP needs to get his head ouf of his arse.

Dec 13, 11 1:48 pm
juan moment

"I just want to get my license and be released from the chains of hell! "

And just how does getting your license put you on easy street?  Wouldn't it be nice if your license came with a few clients and some upstart money.

Dec 13, 11 1:55 pm

yeah -  suck it up because there are starving kids in africa without jobs. 


I had to work for free for a 1 year, and I probably get paid less than you do,  I am grateful everyday I walk in this office, and you sir complain? 


how dare you ask for MORE???


dear OP - internet is the worst place to go for support.  people are mean here.


there are lot of people out there who have jobs they don't like.  ask yourself what you don't like about this job - if these are things that you can change, then change them.  if you can live with them, live with them.  if you can't, leave.  but don't whine about it and expect people to feel sympathy for you.

Dec 13, 11 2:53 pm

yeah, there are some mean, mean people on here...

what was that thing steve jobs said...'don't live someone else's life' or something like that? 

it's up to you to figure out what that means to you, but from what you write, it sounds like you've made up your mind that your life isn't under mr. starchitect. 

plan your exit.  you only have so much time to try to do what you want in life.

Dec 13, 11 3:30 pm

'your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life,'

Dec 13, 11 3:31 pm

Yeah, take everything you read on architect with a grain of salt (or in some cases, a massive mountain of it).

That there are people in worse-off situations than you is in no way a reasonable justification for feeling unsatisfied with your current job/career/life. Sure, be mindful of the opportunities you are given and take advantage of them, but don't be forced into anything because of the misfortune of others. Guilt is a horrible motivator.

That's not "whining", that's not being a "cupcake", and you don't need to "suck it up". What you need to do is identify how you can improve things and work towards that. 

And hell, sometimes all you need is a little vent now and then.

Dec 13, 11 3:42 pm

I would trade places anyday!  Let me know before you quit so I can apply for the job early!

I have been underemployed for 5 months now and would love a chance to work in  good firm with work to do.  Damn....not saying suck it up, but it is not easy to find a job right now an you should hold onto it until the economy improves.

Dec 13, 11 4:34 pm

Yeah, it's posts like these that make me wonder why I'm struggling to find a job in a field that treats its own so poorly. 

On my side of things I'm meeting with career counselors when I can to discuss my strategies for getting myself out of architecture. For people that are as smart and educated as us, I don't think it's wrong to say that we deserve more....but yeah, I would consider myself lucky just to be employed right now.

Dec 13, 11 4:48 pm

Hey people, it's architecture, not Walmart!  Unfortunately, despite all the utopian ideals you peruse in school, architecture is a competitive field, so if you're getting the mean-spirited (albeit, relatively valid) perspective, it goes with the territory.  I just think the feedback is a little too unquestioning at a time when a lot of us are wondering where our next project is coming from. 

Dec 13, 11 9:39 pm

sometimes i feel like i'm getting burned out at work. 

but then i go home to my family AND the homeless 20 yr old and her twin 11 month olds that we've taken in - supporting them until they can find even a place to live, a way to have income, a way to get food, etc. 

...and then i appreciate going to work at 6am. 

oh, and, also: i'm the boss. (one of them.) not making millions. really just struggling to make sure that the staff continue to have projects that they can work on so that we can continue to have jobs for them.

maybe i'm a little jealous of your situation, oneLOSTarchitect. or i would be, except that i'm actually thankful for what i have.

do a good job, get noticed. maybe you'll move into a different situation through merit/performance. you won't through resentment and impatience, i'm pretty sure.  

Dec 14, 11 8:07 am

Thanks everyone for the encouraging words... just been down on myself I guess. Getting paid $7.50 a hour for the past 2 years has got to me I guess. I know I have no right to complain. A lot of people in a lot more worse shape than me. You guys are right.

Happy Holidays everyone!  

Dec 14, 11 11:35 am

i'm feeling burned out but am glad for it.  the alternative is not so nice.

that comment that steve jobs made about living someone else's life always seemed to be the kind of comment only a rich person could make. 

Dec 14, 11 11:35 am

will and steven--i think there's a difference between the 'normal' burnout you experience doing work that's difficult at times but that you find rewarding in a 'big picture' sort of way, and the kind of burnout you feel when you're in a job that you know is a dead end, feels hopeless, and is probably not going to reward you with much down the line.  from what you both frequently write, you seem to find some satisfaction in what you do most of the time. 

then there are times when you find yourself with abusive supervisors, hostile work environments, a situation where it's difficult to have a life outside of work, and a paycheck that just doesn't justify it all. 

i don't think the OP is saying he's unwilling to work, or to take the normal burnout once in a while.  if you think there's no point...if you know there's no end in sight, you have to go with your gut and look for something else.

i worked at a dysfunctional, abusive place once.  believe me, the alternative IS nicer...


Dec 14, 11 12:14 pm

...and, once you have a family, that's reason and reward in itself to tolerate the burnout...a whole different story.

Dec 14, 11 12:26 pm

7.50 an hour.  i can't believe any of you are telling this guy to suck it up and take it. 

Dec 14, 11 12:28 pm

7.50 an hour is utterly embarrassing.  just walk away,  you'll feel infinitely better for it.

Dec 14, 11 12:34 pm

$7.50 AN HOUR.....That kind of changes things....I reverse my Suck it up cupcake remarks, etc. I apologize. wow...

Dec 14, 11 1:18 pm
On the fence

$7.5 per hour.??  For two years?

Blame yourself at this point.  Learn from it and move on.

Dec 14, 11 1:46 pm

$7.50 an hour? As in a quarter above minimum wage?

I'm ashamed that my profession would do that to our own. How close to the end of IDP are you and are you all up to date reporting hours?

Work / life balance is the key to getting through the funk, but as a few folks have mentioned, it doesn't always get easier with licensure. Keep calm and carry on.

Dec 14, 11 1:50 pm

Please remember to use protection when "Pull(ing) tricks at the truck stop"

Dec 14, 11 3:46 pm

I am 6 months away from completing IDP. Honestly that is the only reason why I tolerate it. I honestly laugh at people that say they would rather get paid less and work on amazing architecture. I work on amazing architecture and getting paid less. This is really a student's wet dream... but at some point you have to have some kind of self respect for yourself. Not saying money = happiess, but a happy medium of the two is where I'd like to be. I'm just trucking on the hours... and 6 months from now feels so damn far!

... back to putting my fake happy face on!  

Dec 14, 11 3:51 pm

hah.  yeah there is definitely a difference between being a student and a mature professional in archtiecture.

i spent most of the first 10 years of my working life getting nothing but minimum wage, and i really remember what that was like.  wasn't an architect though.  i can't help but think of all the people i used to work with and the many working poor out there when i hear that quote by jobs.  a lot of us don't have the chance or the choice to walk away.  nothing to do with the OP mind you just this whole idea of mobility.  it doesn't ring true to me.

thassa not a lot of money but i bet it is a good experience if it doesn't last too long. still it is  not a good situation nor a good way to run a profession.  not that i have any answers -  this is not an easy business for either side of the employer/employee fence...

Dec 14, 11 7:20 pm

Thinking back into the 70's , when I started kicking the can. The Golfer (me) take home pay check was $110.00  a week....guess the  push of $10.00 over one hundred made it work for me. I can only say  I wasn't making a mint but everyone in the office took me under their wing and made me the Architect I am today. I have my own practice, and were bumping along like many of the other Architects in the Country. The State AIA publication this summer said  some 30% were out of work.  So jumping ship might not be the brightest idea you have ever had. Hang in there the IDP bullshit is almost done, and if your as good as you thing you should breeze thru the exams. If you don't pass them all the first time, go back and get them done. Once you have you piece of paper, you might dare go hang a shingle like I did but let me tell you there is alot about this profession you never learned in school or while working for someone else.  When your out their on the front line like Steven and myself  things do get crazy, so we do the crazy dance and hope to land on our feet.  This recession has been a heart breaker for many an architect.  Lets all just keep bumping along until someone figures out how to fix this mess. 

Dec 14, 11 7:39 pm

"not taught in school" doesn't even begin to start to begin to describe the joy of looking for work for an office and then trying to have enough to keep staff employed too.  it's as much of a slog as being at the bottom i'd say. 

Dec 14, 11 10:46 pm
pale shelter

Yeah, I think everyone took a real big ... (pause) >gulp> when they saw $7.50 an hour. I was expecting you to be complaining about $35k with 2+ years experience.

This is beyond dreadful. No fault to your own, except for the fact that you have, indeed, accepted this for 2 years. Sorry buddy, but I would have jumped ship the second I was offered that. As we've said before on archinect: sometimes you have to say  "are you fucking kidding me?" to your boss and walk away. Seriously! because this gains respect from your peers when you say "no", and helps you gain more self-worth and values.

I earned $7.50  per hour rotating produce in 2001. That's 10 years ago, in a grocery store, in a small town. Sad. Fcking pathetic (that your employer would offer that).

If architects want more from their society/clients/consultants/developers/etc and fellow colleagues in this semi-fcked-up business of architecture, then our firm leaders need to stop eating their young (aka paying better wages and billing out fairly and competitively). Is this a function of:: an architect getting paid poorly for 3 decades, finally rising to principal, and deciding to finally make some decent cash by paying college educated, driven, ethical individuals the equivalent pay of a 14-year-old produce-rotating clerk in a Midwest grocery store a decade-ago's pay??? Looks so. And I believe this is what many small and midsize architecture firms do: pay pennies to their young so they can finally pull in the cash they always thought they'd make as a hot-shot (A)rchitect.  And also, I don't believe getting your license will do anything to change your current condition at your current firm. Licensure in this profession (when done at a young age) is a personal vendetta and received with a simple "congratulations" . end.

Finally, when people accept this pathetic, profession-degrading pay, we all get hurt and see the effects. When new hires come around, after being unemployed for years, begging for work, they say they'll work for anything. So, they end up working for anything - owners like that - and the result is no increase in salaries for the rest of the us who've been around at the firm - working more hours than normal - and even already after salary cuts.  We have no basement in this profession for pay. What a joy it is.

Dec 15, 11 1:23 am

snook - if you count for inflation, your pay was likely around $15/hr in today's money - which is around the low-end of what interns are typically paid - just for some perspective - equivalent pay of $7.50/hr in today's money compared to when you started would be somewhere around $1.50 an hour  - or roughly $60/week.

Dec 15, 11 9:41 am

"...the equivalent pay of a 14-year-old produce-rotating clerk in a Midwest grocery store a decade-ago's pay???"

That 14 year old a decade ago had no idea how fortunate he/she was.  The global economy is still in the beginning of a long & unpleasant deflationary process of deleveraging.   Money supply contracts, assets lose value, prices drop.  And considering that something like two thirds of the planet survives on about one US dollar per day, there is still a lot of room to go down before hitting bottom.

It counterintuitive, but believe it or not, ten years from now $7.50/hour might sound like a very good wage, yo!

Dec 15, 11 12:32 pm


   this is what you need to do....try to find out how much others are getting paid with your experience at your office. If they are earning far more (which could be very likely) talk to your employer about it and ask for a raise. If he says no, start looking for another job. Whatever you do, make sure NOT to bring up your fellow colleagues wages in the discussion. It is not professional, and you would not want to get them in any heat.

If this starchitect is cashing in and getting projects (there are some starchitects out there that are managing to get comissions) there is no reason you should be getting paid so badly. Just because most of the architects out there are suffering does not mean that every architect should be least let some of us youth manage have a career or some happiness

Dec 15, 11 5:18 pm

oh yeah when talking to your boss also discuss what future role he see's you having there, whats best for your career etc.

Dec 15, 11 5:34 pm

ask for a raise?  don't you understand that working in close proximity to their genius plus the permission to put their brand name on your resume is considered to be part of the reward?  i once overheard a star-architect say that his employees should pay him for letting them work for him, since they're getting way more out of him than he ever does out of them.  i wonder how long it will be before someone actually tries that.

yes, ask for a raise.

Dec 15, 11 5:58 pm

again  oneLOSTarchitect

ask for a raise. I had friends working for a starchitect - during this economy getting around 16k one summer (while they were in school), meanwhile others did not ask to get more and got exactly what you earned. if you have an M.arch and are done school, have worked there for 2 years, and the boss is getting commissions- talk to him. the worst he can say is no.

Dec 15, 11 6:08 pm

(to clarify, i was just being sarcastic.  i totally agree you should ask for a raise)


Dec 15, 11 6:11 pm
pale shelter

so checking in here to follow up with what people have had to say:

... and can't believe these responses lol !!! my god, instead of more distaste and outrage over the $7.50 an hour, we're hearing excuses,  contentment, and global market comparisons - in other words, (as I've been astounded at reading on archinect before) the idea that some of you try and compare our wages as architects to the harsh realities of non-modernized countries where people's basic needs aren't even met . Does it get anymore irrational in comparison and analysis than this? lol  my goodness, should i expect a heart-wrenching, hand-holding talk with my employer when he tells me that my earnings will fall to $1.50 an hour in order to better recognize these unfortunate circumstances of our fellow humans and to better foster an ethical existence as we move forward with globally fair pay? The world isn't fair at all unfortunately, thanks for letting us all know that, yo!

original poster - don't ask for a raise, unless it's atleast to the AVERAGE of what other peers in the industry are making (take the AIA compensation report to your boss - it's free online thru Architect magazine). If you don't get fair compensation, warn other peers of ever working there, reveal the horrific pay to your local aia committee, tell your architect friends and get the f out of there. Interns are making more money on unemployment insurance.

it also frightens me that "star architects" and their cult followers would accept the despotic construct of paying insane amounts of money for a 7-year art (i mean architecture) degree with outcomes of working for minimum wage, playing around in photoshop and building this horrific shit lol below : something howard kunstler would also qualify as "despotic architecture" .. or "an architectural abortion".  Those that believe this is the worthy architecture of inventive architect intellectuals are the equivalents of scientologists. - excuse me for my moment of fun here -


Dec 15, 11 10:58 pm

+100 Points for invoking the great James Howard Kunstler.

Dec 16, 11 2:24 pm

Enough years out of school and the novelty / hope / interest wares down.

Society is in a dark age.

Architecture is in its own dark age--nihilistic form-making for largely uninspired patrons...producing and inspiring [cheap imitations of] some of the most egregious crimes against urbanity since Le Corbusiers'.

We are accomplices until we resign from the increasingly globalized and consolidated corporate structures.  Work local. Work SMALL. FIGHT big finance's big developments.  Fight COLOSSUSES.

Change professions--the pay cut might be less than you expect.

Dec 17, 11 4:34 pm

work local, work small, fight big finance's big developments.  Live humble, even if your a poor starving small time architect.  Go find a gig as a bartender so you can have a night life without having to pay for it.  Marry a waitress, have a dozen kids  and  you will be their star architect.

Dec 17, 11 5:31 pm

Oh yes a thread I actually like....

Ive been working at this firm since i graduated undergrad for about two years. Pays great but damn the work im doing is boring as shit. Ive applied to over 200 firms in the U.S. and maybe 50 overseas, and the only jobs that ive been offered are overseas and pay way lower than what Im making. Fuck Architecture and this Economy. 

Jan 4, 12 4:00 pm
chatter of clouds

this place is increasingly becoming a cesspool of embittered assholes and idiots, unfotunately. someone wants some solace and advice and he gets called cupcake and is told that his head is up his ass. i am totally with elinor on this. a good hing to do is give yourself a reasonable amount of time (not years, months) so as not to rush things unless it is an urgent issue.  if you hae different feelings towards the job, these will be made evident during that period. i always give myself a benchmark for quitting in my jobs so far - i always exceed the due date but eventually i resign.

no you are not burnt out, you have feelings about this it is these schmucks who are insulting you for having these feelings that are burnt out and jaded. best of luck



Jan 4, 12 10:35 pm
w. architect

It is normal to feel the remorse of student debt, and the lack of ownership in your profession.

Do not feel that you are alone in that situation, architecture is fine for those who can afford it and if you are not Paris Hilton, etc., you will provide you with great wealth.

Although, it is fun to meet rich people and try to explain what service you can provide as an architect, but in the end you will be only a servant to their desires.

Jan 6, 12 8:31 pm

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