HELP! Fresh grad, get out while is till can?


Hey guys,

So I'm a fresh grad having revived my B.S. in Architecture from a fairly competitive architecture program.  Following graduation I moved home to the Midwest and have been job hunting since.  After a lot of work, I have final received two offers and am torn between the two.  

I want to be an architect.  However I want to design small things in which I can design every detail (ie houses with all the furniture designed by me).  And I simply dont think that the standard architecture route may be the way for me.  So here are my options.

Offer A- Product design engineer at a small engineering firm.  The job pays ~57K per year, is 40 hours a week + overtime, has full benefits, and the company is really growing.  It also lets me design one-to-one at a small scale, which I love (instant gratification).  And would allow me to pay for night time grad-school in at a local university. This job has more mental stimulation than the average cad jockey for sure.

Offer B-  A corporate architecture firm which will pay ~45K/year.  However I feel like this firm has low job stability, and allows for little to no growth as more than likely I am going to be pigeonholed.

I would really appreciate your opinions as I have to make this decision soon!

Thanks Guys!

Oct 7, 12 8:30 pm

tough choice.. I'd go with the first choice.  Like you mentioned, it will allow you to gain more experience in designing, detailing and actually fabricating what you design.  I've been in the same position, interested in being able to design, detail and actually build things as opposed to working on floor plans and not a clue or having a vague idea about how things are actually assembled.  I realized it would likely take me a very long time if I wait to gain that experience while working at most corporate firms since work is specialized and assigned to those more adept at it.

I'm from Canada btw.. Do you live in US?  mind if I ask what design engineering firm you applied to?

Oct 7, 12 9:15 pm

Go with Offer A! I've have 5 years of architectural firm experience under my belt and i'm only making 61K! When I first got out of school with a BA in Arch I was only offered 39K with no overtime compensation.  I have friends who wished they got out of this industry earlier but now are stuck.  Get out while you can! Seems like offer A is a good segway.

Oct 7, 12 9:36 pm

Archibella, i don't know much about pay but 61K after 5 years of hell? is crapola!  I have cousins making 6 figures in their first job straight out of uni ><  I don't even bother asking them what their pay is now after 5 years of working. lol

Do you all think architecture is a good field to stay in if one plans to open their own firm someday, perhaps doing custom houses, renovations, storefront and commercial interiors etc?  Its probably hard for a small firm to compete with large corporate firms like Gensler who try to take on every type of market out there.

Oct 7, 12 9:40 pm

You have an architecture background so going for the product engineer role wouldn't hurt your career chances down the road. If you feel you had a good enough discussion with each potential employer then you can make up your mind at this point.

If you want to go back into architecture the opportunities are better in a few years than now when the work is hard to come by. As long as you can show familiarity with the building design process then the product engineering skills can definitely be a benefit.

If I had a similar situation between something alternative but suitable compared to a so-so architecture job I would take the alternative.

Oct 7, 12 10:39 pm

Good for you getting two offers. Do whatever you feel is the right choice. I'd be greatful for either. If I may ask, how did you get the jobs? Job add online, network, etc?

Oct 8, 12 8:39 am

Sounds about right. Spoke to a CAD trainer and he tells me it's about that much one can be paid to be a CAD operator/designer at an engineering company.


I'd personally take option A.

Not only for the money and work hours and benefits.

As design progresses, all the "Zaha"-style design will slowly become the norm. Your CAD skills (which you will pick up from the engineering firm) will be in demand when all the nominal commercial architecture firms begin to design in Zaha's style as clients demand them.

Not only that, you can always choose to be a specialist at an Architectural related company (e.g. Curtainwall specialist (big money there!) and your skills will be a match!) doing engineering-related architectural details (think Norman Foster/Richard Rogers).



Do be an automotive modeller - they pay the best! At least $36-42/hr with no experience. Goes up as high as $100/hr and you get the prestige of the badge of a car company on your resume. But easier said than done!

Oct 9, 12 6:02 am

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