bye architecture, hello nursing


As a lot of people here, I had a love-hate relationship with architecture. I love the creative side of architectural design, but hate the typical CAD monkey desk life, office politics, and poor job outlooks. I graduated in 2006 before the full onset of depression and landed a job in a big-name architectural firm and worked there for three years. In those years, i did concept design, presentations and presentations. Despite repetitive request for experiences in other aspects, I learned nothing regarding to how buildings are put together. I felt that both of my career as a young architect and my learning in architecture hit a glass ceiling and I was stuck there for a long time. Looking back now, I realized how unhappy and miserable I was. 

When I lost my job in 2009, I decided to get a certificate in nursing. I made the same amount of salary with one year training in nursing as what I made with five year B. Arch plus two year degree of M.Arch. More importantly, I love my job as a nurse. It is fast paced, non-boring, and has a scale that is manageable for me. Nursing offers greater opportunities for advancement and requires critical thinking skills which fit into my ambition. Nursing also gives me a chance to care for the vulnerable and hopefully I made a difference in someone's life and they will remember how I make them feel when they are sick. I work three 12 hour shifts and off four of the seven days of the week. Drawbacks? I have to work every other weekend and every other holidays, the job can be stressful sometimes.

As of today, I worked in my hospital for 25 months already. I am truly thankful that I lost my job four years ago because I would not have the courage to leave architecture and do something I will truly enjoy for the rest of my life.

Best luck for all.

Feb 8, 14 4:31 pm

Great post!  I know too many people that went through similar experiences in their old office before getting laid off, complained about it, but didn't do anything and got hired back into the same position in a different office.  Best of luck to you and congrats on the successful change.

Feb 8, 14 5:32 pm

Congrats on the career shift!

I have been wondering lately why nurses work 12 hour shifts? Isn't that hard for them and unsafe for patients? I don't know many people who are even close to their best after 12 hours of work.

Feb 8, 14 6:38 pm

Congratulations!  What a terrific story in how to turn a set back into an opportunity.  Sounds like you found your calling.

Feb 8, 14 6:47 pm

Congratulations, don't you miss drawings and being creative?

You still get to do problem solving but being with people all the time, v's being with inanimate objects and a computer screen. I'd rather spend my life in front of a computer screen than with people as I don't have the people skills or liking to be with them for very long.

Feb 8, 14 7:51 pm

So, this post was for what reason again? To do what actually, and should I care that you cut and ran? Let us know when the work as a nurse gets too tough for you, and you decide on career choice number three.

Feb 8, 14 8:53 pm



I think it's nice to know about his particular story, whether it has a point or not.

Feb 8, 14 9:15 pm

"cur and run" LOL

Haven't heard that in a while.

Feb 8, 14 9:55 pm

betadine, jaded much?

I think its nice that the OP let us know that there are other alternatives out there, and that (s)he enjoys it.

Feb 8, 14 11:17 pm

To be fair, I think the motivation and message of this post could be taken in a lot of different ways. At first glance I thought it was a jab at the profession, but after a little thought I changed my mind. I think they are trying to find some resolution for what must have been a very difficult decision to change professions after so much effort went into getting where they were. I for one wish them the best of luck.

Feb 8, 14 11:47 pm

And you don't need to do a 3-7 year internship for shit wages to be a nurse.  But then again architecture is a much more dangerous profession.  Lol.  The path to be an architect is absolutely over kill.  You can inject stuff into people's veins after a year or two but to draw a wall section you need roughly 10 years of schooling and internship. Lol lol.  

Feb 9, 14 6:17 am

Congratulations on a happy move, useasback! I know several nurses and most of them are so happy with their career choice, for reasons you offer: they have direct and positive impact on people's lives.  Plus a friend who has been nursing for years has great flexibility in his schedule: he works lots of 12-hour shifts, covers for other people, etc. then several times a year takes 3-4 week vacations in Europe visiting family members. He leaves work AT work every day.

We always want to find the best doctor to provide care - as we should - but if one is staying in a hospital, and assuming the actual treatment goes well, it is ALWAYS the care from the nurses that makes a big difference.  

Plus, my ProPractice professor always said if we wanted financial security to marry a nurse! I encourage you, as you would in architecture, to stay at the top of your field: take classes, research areas of treatment that interest you, etc. Stay valuable by staying current.  Congrats again!

Feb 9, 14 9:45 am

"Cut and run". Probably, over his working lifetime, this young guy will save many lives by being alert and conscientious. May not be as wonderful to you as coming

Feb 9, 14 10:13 am

as coming through with a Frank Gehry look-alike building. But, whatever.

Feb 9, 14 10:14 am

Far from jaded, I've considered getting a 2 year degree as a surgical tech in 2009, and I was thinking about it because I thought it could inform what I was thinking about, and currently think about in architecture. The difference here is that I am licensed, and stuck it out, despite being shit on by the "profession". My deal is this, I don't think that I would one, quit because it got tough, the saying about the tough and going, I knew what I signed up for in first year, and I wasn't about to let people get in my way. Second, even if I did, I wouldn't come here and whine about how tough it was, and that's why I'm leaving. Third, and perhaps more importantly, nursing is hardly any easier a profession, and I hear horror stories all the time about work hours, getting shit on by hospitals corporations; in shor, to pull another cliche out of my ass, the grass is always greener. Good luck, and remember, learn how to draw blood really well, watch out for rolling veins, walk slowly and lookout  for blind corners when carrying full bed pans. Oh, one last thing, despite what nurses say about the morbidly obese, bariatric patients, they do have feelings, and need as much compassion as you can deliver.

Feb 9, 14 5:13 pm
Saint in the City

Not following your 1 through 3 points, Beta -- sounds like, 1: the OP quit because he/she was miserable, not because it was hard.............2:  is this person whining?  Not reading that in their post -- more like noting that other options are out there...... 3:  I'm also not reading where the OP said nursing was easier --  just for them more enjoyable.

Feb 9, 14 5:59 pm

I would be too tempted to braking into opiates cabinet. Kidding of course. Good luck with your new career it is not very similar to architecture. Actually you could be a medical consultant for an architecture firm someday, rethinking some of medical floor plans which can be dismal, though efficient. 

Feb 9, 14 6:06 pm
Humble brag
Feb 9, 14 6:21 pm

^^^  I agree.  If a person loves the profession and is willing to put up with the negatives, they should stay in.  If not, they should do something else.  It's not a character flaw or sign of weakness to admit a mistake and change course.  It's not a religion, it's just a job.

Feb 9, 14 9:13 pm

 It's not a religion, it's just a job.


Feb 9, 14 11:36 pm

Useasback, thanks for sharing and congratulations on your career change.

It takes courage to cut your losses and move on professionally.  Unlike some of the other comments above, I do not think it is a sign of weakness to switch careers.  Architecture is a very difficult profession and misery loves company (why people are so critical that you would leave or even post about it). 

I never understood the notion that was constantly pushed in architectural schools and in professional practice that things need to be as time consuming, difficult, and painful as possible.

Anyways, as another architect that is considering getting out, your comments are inspiring, I think the biggest setback in leaving for me is deciding what else I could do without having to go back to school for another professional degree that I can’t afford.

How did you decide on nursing?

Feb 10, 14 11:24 am

^^ But true.........

Feb 10, 14 11:44 am

Though the post is old at this point, I wholeheartedly appreciate you for posting it OP. I'm currently in a similar mindset as you were when the switch to nursing was initially made (do I continue pretending to be happy as CAD monkey until I finally feel some sense of fulfillment many years down the line, or do I switch careers entirely and become a nurse/go into something more immediately rewarding). 

Based on the things I've seen and heard of with my mother's experience as an RN, the two environments are completely different and incomparable in my opinion. Going from slowly developing Carpal Tunnel while drawing endless lines on a computer screen to being on your feet for 12 hours a day, going from patient to patient in a high-energy atmosphere. Talk about tough, not to mention the blood, guts, and excrement -- two different worlds!

Architecture and the culture that surrounds it is not for everyone. The same goes for nursing or any other profession for that matter. You're incredibly brave for picking up a new career altogether during a tough time, and I wish I could talk to you directly because your complete transition has left me with some questions. I hope all is still going well!

Jun 20, 17 12:05 pm

I'm  now at the same situation where im battling between my career shift to nursing. Cant help but think of the salary i will be making if i change to nursing career. I know its not about the money but sometimes, the practicality sense overules. Would be interested to hear anybody who did this career change and their stories of success.

Aug 6, 17 8:22 pm

Just start reading this thread from the first post


It is a good choice. Web Architects make about 50K more than "architects".

And the reason is deep, modern architecture is far from modern technologically speaking and that retardation has depreciated the industry into a banker handmaiden for CMBS con games.

For some reason I am still investigating WHY the architectural academic and professional organization establishment never developed a repoire with computer science, and today's architecture is the result. 17 years behind object oriented automation and 10 years behind advanced automated BIM basic concept understanding.

Falling behind the one means the other is years off. But imo, a few advanced firms will be 10 and 20 times faster than the industry dumb-bell curve in 5 years, how that equates to reality, I do not know.

But, architecture as we know it, this 1980 frozen mindset that just happened to steal a CAD copy, will pass away, how turbulently remains to be seen, but a world war can be an accelerant for this kind of needed change. 

We shall see. You can always pursue both now that you have a reliable job.

Aug 8, 17 5:54 am

So, just become a "web architect". Look up from your computer screen, the real world is not made out of bits and bytes :)


So don't know if it is or isn't.


Well done nursing is a much more important and likely much more rewarding career than architecture which has become extrrmely dull and commercial of late. I am trying to get out of it myself.

Aug 8, 17 6:48 am

This further implicates a much more important question- why are we valued less for what we think we're worth?

I think main reason is social importance.looking at the big picture is that the medical field gets more funding from various sources eg. insurance, subsidies of sorts; while architecture dwells mostly on managing designs. Plus, were already sharing the pie with other professionals in the field. Were doing twice the work for half the price.

Aug 11, 17 11:47 am

"This further implicates a much more important question- why are we valued less for what we think we're worth?" - because we are just not important enough. What a nurse does has a direct corelation to life and death. What we do is highly removed from anything that critical, at best. Less risk less reward


oh how I wish to take up nursing even though I may have to wipe poop off the floor and clean up that old man who has consistency issues compared to dealing with stupid stress like trying to get the photocopier working before a deadline or being blamed for a drawing mistake. ><

Aug 11, 17 2:37 pm

Speaking of deadlines, what if someone's life depends on your actions and you screw up. I'd rather fuck up a drawing.

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