Doctor vs. Architect?


How do the two compare in the rigor in school and the profession? Did you ever contemplate about the two? If you did, did you ever regret your choice of becoming an architect? Anyways, the title basically speaks for it's self so what do you think about the topic?

Feb 3, 12 8:29 pm
w. architect

If you are intelligent enough, be a Doctor!  

Be an architect if you want to become poor, and have a life filled with making little custom items for other people.

Feb 4, 12 9:37 am

After practicing architecture for 8 years I nearly left the field to pursue medicine. I spent 2 years in school fulfilling all the prerequisites, shadowed doctors, volunteered at my local hospital, and even worked in a lab studying tumor genetics with an oncologist. It was only AFTER completing my application to medical school that I decided it just wasn't worth it for me. I had already sunk so many years into a profession I was unhappy with and just couldn't stomach giving 7 or more years to another career. If I had left architecture when I first became disenchanted however, I would probably be in medical school today. On the up side, my experience with medicine and biology has given rise to an interest in the relationship between the development of cities and public health.

I think both fields are damn difficult!

Feb 4, 12 1:07 pm

Architecture requires social skills. Medicine doesn't. 


Feb 4, 12 1:30 pm

Both are difficult.  It is the doctor, however, that can afford to build a house designed by an architect. 

Feb 4, 12 5:26 pm

medicine is multiple's harder than architecture. i was in pre-med until hitting organic chemistry. done in 2 weeks. 


don't fool yourselves - these aren't apple to apples. yes, we both 'work hard', but medicine is rigorous machine that grinds up and spits out a lot of incredibly bright people. i guarantee only a small percentage of architects could make it through med school...

Feb 4, 12 5:39 pm

How many doctors could make it through arch school then?

Feb 4, 12 6:07 pm

If they wanted to, I would say 99%. Most arch students wouldn't even be able to qualify to apply; it's no joke. Spots in US med schools are rare commodities the competition for one is tough.


@Gregory Walker: They ARE like apples and oranges; because of that I don't think you can say one is harder than the other, they're just different. I did much better in pre-med (O.chem was a breeze!) than I did in Architecture School and enjoyed working with an oncologist more than any architecture office I worked in. Others will find the opposite to be true.

@PREARCHITECT98: A lot of my dissatisfaction toward the profession is pretty typical stuff (i.e. low salary for the hours worked, marginalization in the building industry, lack of meaning in the work I did, etc.) Ultimately I lost respect for architects and grew cynical of the building industry. I still loved architecture, but I hated getting buildings built. I sometimes regret my decision. If I bailed when I first questioned my career path (about 4 years after school) I would likely still be posting at:, instead of archinect.

Feb 4, 12 7:42 pm

random - hats off. i loved everything in pre-med i did up to that point. and i probably had the opposite experiences - really enjoyed every firm i worked for prior to starting out. all the doctors i know seem so much more unhappy...


Feb 4, 12 8:56 pm

Oh just get over it...  architecture is a world of fashion, styles, arbitrary decisions and pseudo-science, medicine is none of the above.

Feb 4, 12 9:52 pm

How many doctors could make it through arch school then?

Two different things.  Takes two different personalities and intellegence types.  

Feb 5, 12 12:30 am

How would you describe the different personalities?

Feb 5, 12 1:44 am

Jaffy: "Architecture requires social skills. Medicine doesn't."

I knew you were a doctor!

Feb 5, 12 1:52 am

Morale in medicine is not high either, although probably higher than architecture right now.  There was a survey by AMA a few years ago that reported almost 2/3 of practicing physicians would NOT want their children to become doctors.  Long hours, fighting with insurance companies (architects aren't the only professionals who get stiffed) and malpractice liability.

All professions have advantages and disadvantages.

Feb 6, 12 10:44 am

How would you describe the different personalities?

creativity and conceptual thinking is not evenly distributed among the population, neither is the ability to think fast and stay calm and collective in the face of an emergency situation.  Different people are better suited for certain things.  Carl Jung figured this out and developed 16 personality types. You can take the test online if interested its called a myers-briggs personality test.      

Feb 6, 12 12:19 pm

Doctors are essential to society. Architects ARE NOT.

That said, you will have more fun studying architecture. And suffer for the rest of your life!

Feb 6, 12 2:12 pm

Healers are essential to society. Doctors are not necessarily healers.

Planners are essential to society. Architects are not necessarily planners.


Feb 6, 12 4:29 pm

"Be an architect if you want to become poor, and have a life filled with making little custom items for other people."

"That said, you will have more fun studying architecture. And suffer for the rest of your life!"



I always read things like this that architects say but none of them actually seem miserable. Is it actually that bad? Do any of you guys regret choosing architecture as a career? I know that the economy is bad right now and that it really hit architects hard but is it still a bad profession to be in when the economy is stable? And is the money that terrible? I want to live in Manhattan NY when I am done with internship and work there as an architect but will I even be able to afford to live there?


Feb 6, 12 7:22 pm
pale shelter

No it's not miserable. We have fantastic offices, work environment and creative work (sometimes, creative work... sometimes, challenging). However; it is stressful; and in my opinion, only because of really one crucial fact: yes, we are paid quite poorly when considering our education attainment and req'd work experience. And when you're out of school a few years, seeing EvErYoNE with even a mediocre college degree making more than you, well... you begin to contemplate, a lot. Pay sucks. And I take that back, maybe two crucial facts... you may have to see yourself thru many career unemployment phases and/or changes in offices... 8:9 architects will complain about money.

So seeing the post "doctor vs architect" gives me a little laugh. Because unlike the 2 crucial point above... the average doctor earns mid-career, what? $160k and up? So considering architects make $78k mid career... not much to talk about. And with the baby boomers retiring, as we all know, the medical industry will do fine for a long while coming... (lastly, if you're being over worked as a doctor or have low-morale .. at least you're making great money and can provide)

But to raise a perspective in the education challenges... I think we architects overreact to our long hours spent in studio at school and how we feel about our 'challenging' degree. I couldn't handle first year engineering... calc 3, differential equations, advanced physics... perhaps no interest here, but perhaps very hard! Architecture school in my opinion  was more about how much time you put in and gave a damn about furthering your design projects, since studio credits mattered most. Granted you have a few hard structures coarses. But all in all, simply no comparison in difficulty to engineering or medicine. We are not studying biology or disease or memorizing the countless things doctors must know. ANYWAYS, i kind of get tired of hearing from the college interns how much time they are at studio as if they are eager, willing slaves to some design mission camp that you may not understand 'anymore'. Silly. I agree with RodgerT:

"Oh just get over it...  architecture is a world of fashion, styles, arbitrary decisions and pseudo-science, medicine is none of the above." That's right, medicine is serious.

Feb 6, 12 8:53 pm

Its all about pecking orders. Doctors are higher up in the pecking order because they (or healers or whatever you want to call them) make sure people live. Without people, there is no architecture.

Feb 6, 12 9:42 pm

Its all about pecking orders. Doctors are higher up in the pecking order because they (or healers or whatever you want to call them) make sure people live. Without people, there is no architecture.

Feb 6, 12 9:42 pm

I was laughing when I saw this topic.

My parents always told to become a doctor but I didn't like being in the hospital because it's freaking depressing.   It is indeed a lucrative profession but you have to have passion for it.   It is similar to Architecture only in following the rules strictly or you'll damage the person or structure.

Feb 13, 12 12:27 pm
Token AE

I would have been a doctor if I didn't have to deal with sick, old, or unattractive people.

Feb 13, 12 2:43 pm

Maybe measuring toilet rooms in old dilapidated buildings isn't so bad?

Feb 13, 12 4:12 pm
chatter of clouds

its not just a comparison of salaries denominated by the years of experience and education or frustration...the availibility of medically-related work has proven to be far more secure that that of construction-related work. doctors, pharmacists, nurses..etc

Feb 15, 12 3:29 am

Architecture is pure passion

Aug 22, 17 8:32 am
Non Sequitur

no it's not. Realism helps... and pays the bills


This stupid discussion again. Architects do not save lives. Doctors do.

Aug 22, 17 2:09 pm

8 years of education, endless hours working on projects in grad school, designing a new methodology for assisted care living based on Palliative care models. Worked thousands of hours to have enough hours to be allowed to test and obtain licensure, hundreds of hours to pass 7 state exams each harder than the single exam to become MD, and listening to people who went to sleep on average at 10pm during grad school who call themselves doctors telling me you save lives or that society needs you and they do not need me.

Architects are not needed...right:
 Lwho designs your emergency rooms, your treatment rooms, your hospitals, your houses, the environment in which you spend your lives and identify with your sense of being?

We don’t matter, you say this but you make a mistake one person dies, we make a mistake a building comes down hundred die, we are not involved and buildings are unhealthy and sick to the point people get sick.

This is why we are architects and you are “doctor”, pragmatically you have eye guards and make stupid statements such as you save lives we don’t (we built the world, people die anyway there rocket scientist). Our legacy goes on and doesn’t die, we are grateful for your work but we never get to dismiss anything saying things like “it’s an architectural mastery”, you do, my wife has been sick for years and none of you have been able to help in spite of collecting a paycheck you can be utterly useless, some of you metter and those are the ones who understands what I do and tell me, you work harder than me, my hat goes off to you. Those are not the ones like you though, meanwhile none of us “like you” would be good enough to get licensed, live with that. 

I chose my profession because yours was too easy, I have to consider everything and worry about medicine, structure, Design, law, the environmental impact of what I do, etc. 

Keep convincing yourself that architects are not needed and get a contractor and a draftsman to Design your world, good luck with that. 

Feb 4, 18 8:08 pm
Non Sequitur

You’re maybe 1% as important as you believe.


Apples and oranges, doctors save lives, the best an architect can do is to not kill people.

Non, you're being way to generous.


minor spelling correction: Non, you're being way too generous.

Non Sequitur

Thanks guys for pointing out my massive mathematical error... I probably should revise and move the decimal point to 6 beyond zero. You're 1x10^-6 as important as you think you are.


plus in italy you lift a rock on the side of the road and get an architetto, presto!


"Worked thousands of hours to have enough hours to be allowed to test and obtain licensure, hundreds of hours to pass 7 state exams each harder than the single exam to become MD"



Which comes more naturally to you? Pursue something that comes naturally to you and you will become a true master/expert. If you become a true master/expert, the money issue will resolve itself. 

Feb 5, 18 10:07 pm

Lackey HISTORY · 

How many doctors could make it through arch school then?

Well, 10 years ago, one of the architects at SOM SF was a doctor and an architect - he headed up the med school projects, including the one I was working on at UCSD

Feb 6, 18 11:42 am

I work with all old guys, i'm amazed at how many of them have dr. children

Feb 6, 18 11:51 am

I once worked with a project architect who was initially pursuing her medical license. She told me she ended up back in architecture because after leaving med school with her then boyfriend / fiance and wile traveling in some medical program in Europe, she busted him stepping out on her so she left him in europe and came back to the states and got a job working as a drafter. the rest is history

Feb 6, 18 2:07 pm

I cannot believe this is a serious question. Become a doctor is the correct answer!

Most senior architects do not wish their children to become architects, but a medical doctor that is a different animal.

Feb 6, 18 8:01 pm

There was an AMA study some years ago that said more than half of doctors would NOT want their children to be doctors. I'll bet lawyers are even more dissatisfied.


Work at a CVS, count pills all day, easy job for 6 digits, probably worth the hassle to get through the schooling



Feb 6, 18 10:49 pm

I always find it funny when architects compare themselves to doctors. Yes, I've met some truly brilliant architects, but they are in the extreme minority. Most architects I've met are not too bright. It's like, you've been licensed for 10 years and you can barely figure out how to make a basic window detail not leak, but sure, you'd be so much better at figuring out the human body.

Feb 10, 18 10:35 am

What makes you think doctors have "figured out the human body"? Just think about the false diagnoses and conflicting advice they give. Yes, medicine is more difficult than architecture, but both professions (most professions, really) are faking it a good bit of the time. It's why they call it practice.


I’d rather serve Tim Hortons here in canada for 15 dollars an hour. 

Feb 10, 18 1:28 pm

Doc's study the human body, woo hoo! Except the brain. Too complicated for them so they ignore it and few are the wiser. Docs don't deserve the high pedestals you all put them on. By the AMA's own admission, there are many illnesses and deaths that are actually caused by the healthcare system. Shrug. I guess that would be a similarity to architects, not a difference.

FWIW, I took some pre-med classes and yes they were hard. My brother (a doctor) wouldn't have lasted a week in arch school because he wouldn't be able to stand the subjectivity of the grading and the focus on aesthetics instead of best practices that you follow. Studying physiology/anatomy and buildings has plenty of similarities too. For example, I was good at P&A because I can draw and visualize in 4-D. I can take section cuts, I can visualize systems impacting each other. Same stuff. I wish architects didn't have to put other architects down so much, that is where we differ from healthcare professionals. 

Feb 11, 18 10:21 am

The way I see it, doctors are more important. Also, architects overrate themselves and doctors are overrated by people.

Feb 11, 18 10:55 am

Helps to explain why they make so much more $$ than we do.


Guess I've been lucky, I've never needed a doctor for more than a signature. Every illness I've had is something they resolve with pills, and the doctor was just there to prescribe what I already looked up on the internet... yeah, doctors are soooo important, akin to needing an architect for permits.


Architects very rarely have to make decisions on the spot and that's what makes medicine difficult.

Feb 11, 18 11:14 am

Yes, and the human body is far more complex than any assemblage of bricks and steel than humans build.


Veterinarians treat all kinds of bodies. Architects create stuff and run projects. Give yourself some credit, geezer!


TTT, I applaud your cheerleading efforts for the profession, but you have to agree there's gotta be some reason why the profession is in the state it is (apart from architects putting each other down), while the same cannot be remotely said about medicine. It is a simple supply and demand situation. The more developed a place, the lesser the demand for architects. Just look at Western Europe.


What's up, doc? You know what I hear is in demand? Pizza!


Yo doc, there is a great demand for architects over here (Western Europe), since architecture is a cultural act and we are a cultured civilisation. Italy has one architect per 414 inhabitants for example...Rome wasn't built in a day ;)


ramdonized: OK, but tell us about the pay scales, particularly in comparison to other professions. That's the litmus test.


Great demand, like there's great demand for cabbies. Rome wasnt built in a day, but is pretty much built now lol




It is very likely that your Roman cabby is a trained architect ;)

Feb 12, 18 4:04 pm

Lol, I was kidding.


So was I, come on...1 architect every 414 Italians, no wonder I've worked and studied with so many architects from Italy who desperately spread out over Europe and beyond to look for work as architect or related work. It's like it's mandatory to study architecture over there...


Pretty amazing that NO ONE has come up with a solid reason for why we are paid less than healthcare professionals. 

Feb 13, 18 5:13 pm

I knew a doc that said it was because of insurance companies, doctors have a higher liability rate than architects, plus they buy into their clinics, unlike us, being employees of a bigger dog. And I can venture they make more because their "projects" don't last years.


The reason is supply and demand.


Because we sign contracts with lower pay.

Non Sequitur

Because we're no where near as important... but sure, keep crying that you want 6-figure salaries just to copy-paste parapet and stair details.


JLC, doctors have greater liability because they have the power to be able to kill you with one wrong medication or misjudgment. Architects do too, but there are innumerable checks and balances in place. Morever, the degree of automation in medicine has led to more jobs, not lesser, like for us.


And NS has it right again, we are nowhere as important. No go cry in your keyboard as you copy-paste revit families.


Both are tough if you make it as a doctor or licensed architect.  If you're comparing someone in med school vs one in arch school, I'd say med school is much tougher.  You can't fake it and get by in med school, unlike 70% that do in arch school :D

Feb 13, 18 5:31 pm

Nothing higher than Architect! Except marine biologist.

Feb 13, 18 7:11 pm

George Costanza!

Architects are very much like proctologists. 

Feb 13, 18 8:16 pm

In regards to supply and demand, yes.


Both deal with assholes all day.

Yes.....become a doctor.......architecture is a terrible field - low pay, terrible AIA that doesn’t support working conditions, mismanagement...too many problems to list.
Feb 14, 18 9:04 am

77 - are you a member of AIA ?

Quick Draw McGraw

Architects in general have to deal with more hand holding. There's no "staff" - as far as other doctors, nurses, or other people who make the operation function as a whole. Doctors have some comfort with the team effort.

We get the full head on assault of everything - including what geezertect said. Hopefully your spidey senses will go off at the interview - and you'll know who tends to wear dirty diapers, and who doesn't.

Feb 14, 18 1:35 pm

Thus the phrase "smell test".

Quick Draw McGraw

Learn something new everyday Miles. Architects on the East End of Long Island sooner or later become quick adept - no wonder the whole place smells like a day care center by mid-July.

(idiomatic) An informal method for determining
whether something is authentic, credible, or ethical, by using one's
common sense or sense of propriety. An inspection of an object using the
sense of smell, as for freshness of food. (physiology) An assessment of a subject's ability to detect and distinguish odors.

Feb 14, 18 6:25 pm

I am an architecture technology student. Im currently looking to switch to the medical field. If youre not willing to give literally your all including your health dont join the architect career. So many profressionals have spoken to us realisticlly about how little you make for the amount of work you do. I love architecture but I dont think im willing to continue. Plus my school isnt accredited so it just makes it harder. Honestly become whatever you want. Architecture will always be needed but the underpay for its work is the biggest downfall it has.

Apr 4, 18 2:24 pm
Non Sequitur

or... don't buy the hype. Plenty are doing well without succumbing to the starving artist fallacy.


Very true


Don't choose careers solely on pay. Choose careers with consideration of what the work you are doing. For example, with doctors, you maybe involved with work that involves the sight of blood. Can you handled that. Will the sight of blood cause you to hurl up your previous meal? If so, you might not be suitable for becoming a doctor. There are always not so glamorous work with any career. There is more to any field than the brochure may lead you to believe.

cl, keep in mind that you don't necessarily need an NAAB accredited architecture degree to work in the broad architectural field. If you are into designing of houses, you can do fine with either an NAAB accredited architecture degree or a non-accredited architecture degree or even a part of it and still design houses as a 'building designer' or 'home designer' or other various titles that you can use to avoid being slapped with a fine by representing yourself as an architect. The laws have exemptions and there are also limits to the laws as well. In any case, you can also become a licensed architect even without an NAAB accredited degree in a number of states.


Yes I know, the pay is one of the issues and other factors. Its a decision making process I am still thinking about. I appreciate your words! I didnt know I could become something else within the architecture field. Its just difficult specially listening to professors say things like dont expect much from all of this workload, you know. Its very unmotivating.


There are also many other closely related professions that you can enter into with an architectural education. The typical profession-client business model doesn't yield as much money as some other kinds of businesses such the software business. The software business sells a product that maybe $50 for each copy of the product sold but can sell millions of copies. There is no way you get that from designing a building. Individual clients do not have that capital. It's a different model. However, you can earn a decent livable income. You can find a nice home on inexpensive land to raise a family on if you are willing to commute. You can optimize your expenses so you have optimal net yield for you and your family's needs. It is possible to have a livable income in architecture. Just don't expect to be rich like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and those people. It just doesn't happen in a typical architectural business model. Getting your license will give you opportunities to projects that tends to have better payout then residential. Positioning yourself and marketing your services to the kinds of projects that pays the best is better. Becoming a licensed architect isn't just a single path. There are options for alternate paths to licensure.


yeah defitnetly. I am still doing my research making sure I am doing something im passionate about. A decent pay and a career that offers opportunities, room to grow is what I need. Everything else follows

Apr 4, 18 4:39 pm

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