what are other careers architects have gone into?


Architecture is a career that is rewarding, driven, and challenging. My other friends in other fields switch fields with each job.

I have done nothing but architecture related jobs for the last three years, and am feeling a bit weary of how I can switch to something else.

I'm not too excited about the living conditions of an Architect, and believe that other fields offer creativity and problem solving just as architecture does.

What are some other careers that you know of that architects have gone into? And how would one go into that?

Jan 26, 10 12:35 pm

nursing is what ill be going into

Jan 26, 10 1:21 pm

If you haven't already seen it, we have a series of features called "Working out of the Box" that profile architects that have transitioned into other careers:

View the features here

Jan 26, 10 2:21 pm

Thanks for the link, Petrunia.

However those profiles seems to me too "glamourous". They are basically well-connected wealthy people that one day decided to give up architecture for another creative-related job. Money or get a better job to pay the mortgage does not seem to be in the equation.

I am pretty much in the same position than artch, 3 years-experience and willing to explore other paths than the architecture studio.

Jan 26, 10 2:57 pm

Do you call everyone by their last name? If so, basketball coach might be a career worth considering ;)

Jan 26, 10 2:59 pm

By the way, I know a few of those people profiled in the "Out of the Box" series, and I wouldn't credit their shift in careers to well-connectedness or wealth. They're just motivated, smart and creative people.

Jan 26, 10 3:01 pm

funny thing is, in fourth year at school our professor actually went over some other options with us in pro practice class

i guess he knew ahead of time the field of architecture wasnt so full of promise

lofty ideals of academia i guess

but some were things like gaming and working at nasa

i agree the "out of the boxers" are few and far between

it isnt like we have royal connections such as say zaha hadid

it is now even hard to find the reward in it anymore
i mean what if this recession hits again right before we get ready to retire
need a profession with a little more job security instead of firms with no loyalty ready to axe you at the drop of a hat

Jan 26, 10 4:31 pm

hey paul

do you happen to know a david burns from columbia
i think he may be over in aussieland right now though

Jan 26, 10 4:34 pm
Sarah Hamilton

I'm getting my teaching certificate.

Jan 26, 10 5:04 pm

Teaching, research, scholarship.

Jan 26, 10 5:13 pm

Currently working for a large gov't agency as their in-house sustainability "expert." It's not a design position, but the work is challenging and requires creative thinking and innovation. Much happier to be in a stable, secure position and out of architecture for the moment. I feel like I am building new skills, in terms of strategic thinking and project management that I would not have been able to develop in the same way if I had stayed in the profession.

I know of another architect who has left the profession and now works for a high-end furniture manufacturer. This person jets around the US and works with the company's clients on their office renovations, helping them pick out office systems and furniture lines for their spaces.

For anyone who is out of work or thinks the axe may fall soon, I would encourage you to think about what your design education and arch experience can offer a broad range of employers, not just arch firms. Also consider whether you can leverage any pre-architecture professsional experience (e.g. photography, writing, etc) which combined with your arch background will make you a unique candidate in the eyes of non-arch employers. Be flexible and open to new ways to utilize your education and experiences. I still believe architects have a lot to offer the world, outside of traditional firm roles.

Jan 26, 10 5:24 pm
liberty bell

I think I'd like to go into construction management if I ever left traditional practice. In many ways it's my favorite part of the job.

Jan 26, 10 8:17 pm

exhibit design/engineering
model building

ohh wait.... i think i just described myself.....

motivation is the key..... and i wouldn't really call it 'thinking outside of the box'...but more like 'diversifying yourself to eat'

Jan 26, 10 8:55 pm

gresham, do you know the name of the furniture company that your friend works for? thats the kind of position i would LOVE, but all i have been able to find in that realm of work has been poverty-level paying sales positions in furniture showrooms.

i'm new here, so HELLO everyone! :)

Jan 27, 10 2:55 am

currently considering landscape architecture...but it's not far from the tree.

i've ALWAYS wanted to be an archeologist, but there's no money in that either. =)

Jan 27, 10 3:02 pm


the person who works for the furniture company is a friend of a friend of a friend, so i've just heard about it anecdotally. but i believe it's one of the big office furniture manufacturers like knoll or steelcase. probably not a lot of positions out there like that, but it's worth looking into!

Jan 27, 10 3:05 pm

artificially inseminating chickens?

Jan 27, 10 4:49 pm

gresham, did you get your federal govt gig through an open call for applications process? I've been hunting through some listings for fed jobs because I am kind of interested in civil service stuff anyway. Just curious to see if I'm missing anything with respect to how one goes about getting their foot into the govt door. Thanks in advance!

Jan 27, 10 7:41 pm
Distant Unicorn

If anyone wants it...

There's a job that's been perpetually open for three years doing community planning for the Air Force in Twentynine Palms.

Jan 27, 10 7:47 pm

check out

over 300 architect jobs currently listed.

Jan 27, 10 9:49 pm

hard as hell to even get the government to contact you from usajobs

unless maybe I am just doing the application thing totally wrong

Jan 27, 10 9:54 pm

wonder how many of those 300 posted jobs are IT related though...

Jan 27, 10 11:45 pm

I bet most of them are. These IT guys even invade my jobs area on Craigslist! I feel as though I am in an Intel commercial or something.

Jan 28, 10 12:09 am

amasse - the furniture gig gresham is talking about is through one of the 'big two' designer driven companies in the u.s. (since i think i'm the one who told them).

reason i mention that is it's an incredibly rare type of gig: yes, there is a lot of travel and they're not even doing sales - all they have to do is give presentations and talk with really top flight companies about how they work (methods, etc.) to help build up a kind of corporate knowledge of what/how people are really working, which then goes into a feedback loop through their r+d division. it's perfect for this particular person because they have a ton (ie 20+) years of experience working and a phd based in this area of inquiry. so, again, it's a atypical type of thing and the person was a perfect fit for them. you're right in that most positions in a place like that are going to be in sales.

but gresham's point is still valid - there's opportunity out there beyond the traditional career paths. a lot of times you have to help 'create' the desire and need for these types of positions. it's definitely not easy, but is anyone saying it will be?

Jan 28, 10 9:34 am

Re: Actually, there are very few "IT Architect" listings mixed in there. Most of the federal listings for "Architect" are Landscape Architects, Naval Architects, or plain old Architects.

I think "Information Architect" and "IT Architect" are job titles that are used more in private industry than the public sector, so you won't have the usual mish-mash of listings that you find on job boards like Monster.

Jan 28, 10 10:23 am

Thank god, it is getting REAL old when you type in "architect" see 200 local jobs and then scrolling down seeing 90 percent are IT

Jan 28, 10 12:05 pm

maybe that says something, career move to IT anyone?

Jan 28, 10 12:07 pm

Just realized that I know of two other architects who recently leveraged their arch backgrounds outside of the usual career paths:

1) In-house BIM specialist/trainer for a software training company.

2) BIM Manager for a medium-sized construction company in town.

I realize these jobs are few and far between, but if you have Revit skills and are looking for work, it might be work calling up your local software providers (I think Autodesk calls these companies "resellers" on their web site) along with the construction companies to see if they have any needs.

Just my 2 cents....

Feb 26, 10 2:49 pm

urban designer! (well, and sustainability consultant)

Feb 26, 10 7:16 pm

many classmates went into real-estate related careers in large corporations, project management, etc, then shifted though those huge corporations to do all kinds of things. one was even selling insurance last i heard...

Feb 26, 10 7:41 pm

law school

Feb 27, 10 12:48 am

anything that artists and hippies can't ruin and devalue (like architecture). SO that entails lots of competitive smart people and a hefty dose of science and/or mathematics.

must be something that has a tremendous amount of leverage in the marketplace and is recession-depression proof.

Feb 27, 10 2:21 pm
Cacaphonous Approval Bot

OneFellaPiggyWinstonPallMall Man-

Could you please start a thread which contains images and drawings of architecture you like, appreciate, admire, and respect? Please try being a positive advocate for what you think architecture should be. Articulate it and demonstrate it.

Thank You.

Feb 28, 10 8:27 am

So, I took one of those career aptitude tests back in college. It sad I would be most happy as an architect, therapist, or teacher. I've been a therapist and i am a teacher, both professions i love. I married an architect. Interestingly, I fell into all three of them without realizing it. If you're thinking about a new career, go get some career counseling. Mine was incidental, as a part of my psych measurement class in college. freakishly accurate.

Feb 28, 10 11:18 am
Sarah Lorenzen

I have had a number of friends leave architecture firms.
They did the following after leaving:

1) Documentary filmmaker
2) Designer for high-end custom kitchen manufacturer (NY)
3) Full-time faculty (I know many of these)
4) 3 friends left to work for Project Management firms (2 in LA and 1 in SF)
5) In-house space planner for large pharma/r&d company
6) Architect for university facility department (working under campus architect - Research University outside of SF)
7) Started a business selling children's furniture (SF)
8) Started a business selling library furniture (also SF)
9) Full-time carpenter

None of the above are independently wealthy by any means.
Many still struggle with making ends meet, but still seem happy about the change.

The ones making more money after leaving architecture include those working PM firms, the kitchen designer, the space planner, and the campus architect.

Feb 28, 10 1:31 pm

Phidias said:

"Could you please start a thread which contains images and drawings of architecture you like, appreciate, admire, and respect?"

My reply:

Three words: firmitas, utilitas, venustas

Vitruvius wrote the book

Notre Dame has the program

The Golden Section and the Renaissance

It would be very difficult to single out 2 or 3 examples of architecture that is worthy of my appreciation and respect as there are so many.

Here are a few that come to mind:

1. Florence Cathedral (and dome)

2. Parthenon

3. Palladio's works

4. Alberti's works

5. Bramante's works

6. Bernini's works

I think Thomas Gordon Smith articulates the original intentions of "classicism" vs. "modernism" best:

"This book argues for the revival of Classical architecture as a medium for vital practice today. We must approach it with the radical intent of returning to its roots in order to synthesize a method for form and theory of new classical buldings. We must turn our backs on the modernist mentality of alienation with a goal of restoring a sense of spirit to architecture.

I propose that the classical tradition be revived as a force in the architecture of the twenty-first century. To achieve this, we must reject the primary modernist assumption that reduces everything to abstraction. Modernism alienates humans from God, art from technology, and separates time from past. Its limiting vision singles out "appropriate" responses to your culture and condemns all others..."

~Classical Architecture, Rule & Invention (Thomas Gordon Smith)

"Rejecting tradition or launching a radical transformation at its expense as occurs in most other schools of architecture [besides Notre Dame) ill equips a person to use his or her God-given gifts to make the built world a better place for everyone. Such an education deprives a person of the inexhaustible fund of experience tradition makes available for guiding leaders. Tradition is much broader than classicism. Classicism is only the narrowest, highest peak of achievement standing out above the broad plain of tradition, an inspirational example of the best to be sure, but an isolated peak nonetheless. No plain, no peak. We can live on the plain, but a peak is a rather narrow roost."

~Carroll William Westfall

Perhaps most succinctly:

"Knowledge alone is not enough to create an understanding of the world. Knowledge reveals the basic facts, but we still need reason to prioritize and assemble this knowledge in a useful manner, and we need virtue to direct us toward just ends. That is why faith is a crucial aspect of education. Without steadfast belief in a better future, virtue and reason give way to futility and cynicism. Only through conscious participation in the great cultural project of the world can we hope to achieve our personal and public aspirations. Architects are asked to act, and through their actions, to define how the world ought to be."

~Michael Lykoudis

Feb 28, 10 4:24 pm

For the Record I have considered applying to the Post Graduate program at Notre Dame. I'm certain I have competitive credentials and that I would make a great post graduate student there.

My wife has had enough of the education and career of the profession.

I value my wife and kids more than architecture in the end. My God is my family and the responsibilities that I committed to when I married, and then had children.

I've been jerked around by the "modern" (corrupted) version of this profession long enough...if I pursue the Post Grad at Notre Dame my wife will leave me for sure.

Therefore, the profession is no longer viable for an individual like myself (and that is not just the money that the profession doesn't offer but the lack of $$$ is a big deal).

Therefore I am setting things up to get into medical school this fall instead.

I'd rather serve the God that is my family and fellow human beings than the perverted and corrupted idol of modernism and technology that the architectural profession currently expects me to serve.

Feb 28, 10 4:31 pm

Yes, I am NCARB certified and Licensed with the MArch.

In the spirit of this thread, just so everyone knows:

When I've shared the fact that I passed the A.R.E. at a relatively young age (33) the Medical School admissions people were actually very impressed.

If course, ironically, from my experience, I've come to expect the opposite from the profession itself. Its more of a liability, oddly enough.

therefore, I will leverage having passed the Exam in another field that respects an intelligent, motivated mind.

Feb 28, 10 4:36 pm

What I am getting at is that most Licensed, relatively young architects shouldnt' be surprised to find that everyone out there in every other field besides architecture actually VALUES their ability and potential.

Its hard for me to get used to this...its like breathing fresh air after going for over ten years of breathing the cynical, drab stench of cynicism in the halls of academia and within the ranks of the profession.

We've been conditioned to believe that as young architects or aspiring architects we are not worth much expect fodder for design crits within academia or tools for software manipulation within the profession's rank and file.

Farewell, as the Master Builder Architect is no more.

Feb 28, 10 4:39 pm

What I am getting at is that most Licensed, relatively young architects shouldnt' be surprised to find that everyone out there in every other field besides architecture actually VALUES their ability and potential.

Its hard for me to get used to this...its like breathing fresh air after going for over ten years of breathing the cynical, drab stench of cynicism in the halls of academia and within the ranks of the profession.

We've been conditioned to believe that as young architects or aspiring architects we are not worth much expect fodder for design crits within academia or tools for software manipulation within the profession's rank and file.

Farewell, as the Master Builder Architect is no more.

Feb 28, 10 4:39 pm

medical career though is not that great for family. time wise can provide some money for them but more than likely not spend much time with them (like missing christmas, bdays etc..), at least not for a long while, till you finish residency in whatever specialty. even then time will still be an issue. which would be after 10-11 years maximum of school and residency. during residency years you will be making 50-60K after 4yrs of school with no income.
So only after 10 years (or 6 for GP) you'll be making 100K+. but it is guaranteed money, unlike architecture. but yeah sacrifice of family will be involved. So I've heard.

there's other less time consuming family friendly but decent and stable income jobs in health care. like physician assistant making 80k upon graduating from a 2 year masters where you learn a lot of what physicians learn. and can get up to 100K+ specializing in surgery. you have less liability and work regular less demanding hours. something to think about. i know i have.

Feb 28, 10 4:50 pm
passerby1ce sound a lot like someone else in this forum according to your background...are you piggy?

Feb 28, 10 4:53 pm

I think Piggy was banned from archinect not too long ago.

Mar 1, 10 8:53 am

I'm aware...i figure signing in as a different name is an two do sound very similar.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt anyways, since i don't really care that much.

but yeah research what it actually takes to be a doctor. I've heard shadowing doesn't really encapsulate the ordeal one goes through. instead shadow a resident and work the same hours as them to get a true picture. cause from what hear, you'd need a very understanding family/wife. you'll eventually get compensated for it, but the road is long. that's just hearsay though, from other people i've talked with (friend and cousin in med school, now residents). good luck! damn those hippies! :)

Mar 1, 10 10:50 am

I liked Piggy.

Medical School is hard, no doubt about it. That's what I want, a new career that is difficult enough that all the half assers in this profession will psyche themselves out in the first place (due to EMOtional insecurity) or like most, are simply incapable of the intellectual standard.

My wife has grown to have a healthy hate of architecture. It has been pretty much raw, unfettered torture our 2 years of dating and 8 years of marriage. She is fed up and is perhaps even more motivated than I am to get into anything else, as long as financially foolish people like artists and architects do not determine the business model.

Mar 1, 10 10:55 am


Mar 1, 10 8:00 pm
Cacaphonous Approval Bot

For the moment, I'd like to put this here.

and this.

and this.

Back to work.

Mar 2, 10 5:34 am

film location scout.

Mar 2, 10 1:37 pm

I guess all of you probably are considering it? or in the midst of doing this? I've been in the work force in this wonderful A field for about 5 years. I guess I am lucky that i have a job right now while the economy is not to good, but at this point, i am thinking about changing profession every day. Is it normal that you work a ton of work and not getting paid much? i am talking about a serious TON, like over 12 hours per day, easily 80 hours per week. Average of 60 hours...

I seriously feel like this is eating up my life and not going anywhere. Is it really worth it? I like architecture, and I like design etc. like everyone says, it's driven, challenging and in a way when your project gets built, it's rewarding. but I also have so many aspects of my life that I would like to explore instead of burying all of them because of "ARCHITECTURE".

I saw some ppl are saying, in general, there are many other creative jobs out there are as fun, and challenging and financially a lot more rewarding. Is it true? I am considering some project management jobs, will it be like killing the creative side of my brain?

Mar 3, 10 2:37 am

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