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Career Change Advice

mungk

Hi i'm a 31 year old Graphic Designer. I'm thinking about making a career move into Architecture and was wondering if anyone could give me some insight on the profession (do you enjoy what you do, avg salaries, any regrets, etc). If I were making this decision out of high school it would be a no brainer, however since I feel like its sorta late in the game I want to get as much information as possible.

Thanks in advance.

 
Jan 10, 09 6:41 pm
binary

DON'T DO IT.... or just get a job in a firm doing presentation... you might make the same amount of cash too

Jan 10, 09 6:53 pm  · 
1  · 
chaos3WA

lol b

check out the "salary poll" for typical salaries. usually you can get like $50k with a masters right out of school and then it goes up from there, slowly, depending on if you work corporate or do cool work.

i like what i do, but a lot of people don't because they are stuck working really long hours and doing boring stuff like hospital bathroom details.

but if you're more interested in architecture than GD, give it a shot! go work for a firm for a while or try one of the summer programs (i.e. at harvard, columbia, ucla, etc.)

Jan 10, 09 7:07 pm  · 
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daydreamnation

$50k sounds like a lot for 'right out of school'. Sure it depends on the city, but I would think it takes at least a couple years in the profession before you will hit that number.

I would agree with b on this. Don't do it!

Jan 10, 09 7:55 pm  · 
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pvbeeber

Now is not a good time to get into architecture. Wait a year.

Jan 10, 09 11:14 pm  · 
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mungk

Thanks for the input guys.

Just to give you a little more info about myself, i'm from the DMV (DC, MD, VA) area. I think my initial hesitation is that a lot of the undergraduate programs seem to be 5 years. Ontop of a 2 year internship after that which is a lot of time to invest, and I am not 21 straight out of college.

I won't lie, but my primary motivation for a career change is that I'd like to make more income and I want to be in a profession that is respectable and has a lot of upside. My goal as an architect would be to someday own a firm or maybe be a partner and make something over 6 figures. Perhaps this is a lofty goal, and i'm in for a real shocker later down the road, but that's why i'm here. I guess i'm looking for a reality check, from real world architects.

In addition, I have spoken to some architects and many have expressed that it's a profession similar to law, where you will definitely be paying your dues in the beginning which i'm prepared to do. However the thought of 5 years of school and making 50k which is what I make now makes me wonder if it's truly worth it.

Anyhow i'd love to hear more of your thoughts, and thanks to everyone that has responded. The internet is great!

Jan 11, 09 12:39 am  · 
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binary

look into exhibit design/engineering.... since you are good with graphics you might fit right in...

or you could work in a millwork shop part time and learn how to build things then get into exhibit engineering and that starts you at 50g's without schooling... can make up to 70gs or so

Jan 11, 09 12:47 am  · 
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farwest1

Make sure you really know and understand what architects do.

As you'll find from browsing the forums here, most architects' day to day life is completely different from what we all assumed. There are very few Howard Roarke change-the-world moments. And it's rare to find ourselves really designing with complete freedom. Practicing architecture actually involves A LOT of time sitting in front of a computer alone, drafting or typing. And dealing with a lot of people who you may feel are stifling your vision.

As you move into a position of more responsibility and income, you may also find that most or all of your time is devoted to contracts, schedules, budgets, and charts. Be aware that for many architects, high design only happens in the gaps, if at all.

Jan 11, 09 2:37 pm  · 
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tc79

mungk,

First, assuming you have an undergraduate degree, a MArch will take you about 3 years. You wouldn't necessarily need a 5 year BArch.

Second, if you been reading Archinect lately, you'll notice many questioning their career choices in architecture, just as you are in graphic design. That's normal during economic downturns.

That said, here's my story. My wife is a graphic designer, owns her own small firm, and most years makes MORE than I do as an architect. Except for Annual Report season (which is right now for her), she works when she wants: enjoys pilates class, lunch with friends, walks with the dogs on the beach, everything that I wish I had the time to do each day, but can't. but I'm always on deadline.

The dynamic for graphic designers has changed a lot over the last decade, jsut as it has for architecture and other design professions, but there are still very satisfying (and lucrative) aspects of the profession. Before you completely change your life with a new career, have you explored how you might change what you're doing now to make it work better for you?

Jan 11, 09 4:59 pm  · 
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mungk

Thanks again for the good advice. I will keep in mind what everyone has said and will continue to do more soul searching and research. Hopefully in the end everything will work out.

This is a great community forum.

Jan 12, 09 1:47 am  · 
1  · 
passerby1ce

Hi mungk,
I'm currently exploring a career in graphic design as well as landscape architecture. Can I ask, what it is about the field of graphic design that you find unfullfilling that you would consider a career change?

Jan 12, 09 8:10 am  · 
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toasteroven
I won't lie, but my primary motivation for a career change is that I'd like to make more income and I want to be in a profession that is respectable and has a lot of upside. My goal as an architect would be to someday own a firm or maybe be a partner and make something over 6 figures. Perhaps this is a lofty goal, and i'm in for a real shocker later down the road, but that's why i'm here. I guess i'm looking for a reality check, from real world architects.

get an MBA - don't go into architecture if money/respect is your main motivation.

and you won't get to do as much design as in your current field - you'll spend most of your time doing coordination of stuff and people.

Jan 12, 09 12:58 pm  · 
1  · 
mungk

pinkbug,

I love graphic design, and design in general, but like all careers there are certain drawbacks. In my case, aside from padding your income with freelance jobs, or becoming an art director, there seems to be a ceiling for how much you can make. As I mentioned earlier my goal is to come close to that six figure mark which would be tough as a graphic designer. It has also been my experience that most of my clients don't really respect nor appreciate the effort that goes into the work that graphic designers do. This isn't always the case but I'd say it's 50/50. Also in economic downturns, the first thing that companies do is cut back on marketing expenses, which has adverse affects on graphic designers.

If you are interested in landscape architecture send me an email and maybe I can put you in touch with some people. The firm that I work for does a lot of work with the Landscape Architecture Foundation which in my experience is a great organization with lots of valuable resources.


Toasteroven... i've thought about getting an MBA and is still a consideration. Thanks for the suggestion though.


Jan 13, 09 3:34 pm  · 
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dia

mungk,

take your paragraph and replace 'graphic design' with 'architecture' and you are pretty much describing the typical architectural career.

Jan 13, 09 4:16 pm  · 
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passerby1ce

^^lol. now what I want to know is can you replace those "graphic design" words with "landscape architecture."

Jan 13, 09 7:45 pm  · 
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mantaray
Architect magazine 2007 salary survey

(click through to the downloadable PDF)

Sadly, in my experience this 2 year old link is actually slightly on the high side, but it's pretty darn close to what you can expect to make in this profession. That may clear some questions up for you.

It's hard, very hard to make 6 figures in this profession. It does happen. It also depends on where you live and how much liability you are wiling to take on. If that's your primary motivator I would say: go into real estate development. Hell, go into real estate SALES even. I know a bunch of realtors and they all, ALL make much more than any architect I know.

Jan 13, 09 8:25 pm  · 
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mantaray

Plus, it only takes, what, 6 weeks to become a realtor?

I'm all for architecture -- I like my job and I'm fine with my salary expectations -- but I'm just saying, if THAT's the reason you think you want to go into architecture, you're probably going to be in for a rude awakening once those student loans come due and you're getting paid 38k.

Jan 13, 09 8:26 pm  · 
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mantaray

whoops don't know if anyone mentioned this earlier but the internship is actually 3 years minimum and the average time it's taking to complete nowadays is closer to 7 years post-graduation.

Jan 13, 09 8:28 pm  · 
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Ibukunoluwa

Salaries can vary depending on your experience and location, but generally, it's competitive.

Feb 8, 24 6:18 am  · 
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