Will there really be a shortage of architects by whenever?


I read an article about a forecast about there being a shortage of architects, I personally find it very difficult to believe since our employment market is saturated with job applicants, 100s of applicants per one job posting.

 I'm UK incidentally, I am assuming it might be the same in the US?


From my personal experience, I find it difficult to believe this claim that there will be a shortfall of architects. What do you think or know?

Mar 28, 14 1:43 pm

This is not really the employment situation in the US at the moment. There are currently a lot of job opportunities, as you can see in our job board, and much fewer job seekers than a few years ago. It's a really good time to find a good job without a lot of competition from other applicants.

Mar 28, 14 1:45 pm
the orange menace

I'm at a 300+ employee firm in Boston and we're actually having trouble finding qualified people.

Mar 28, 14 2:29 pm
wurdan freo

What does "qualified" people mean?  PA with 10 years experience or entry level archie intern who hasn't been able to find a job in two years since graduation. 

Mar 28, 14 3:14 pm

I believe there will be a shortage after the current, established, older generation retire or kick the bucket.

The reality is that companies haven't been hiring from 2008 till right about now and those that are hiring don't have the resources or time to train entry level people.  Unfortunately, what that means is sometime in the future there is going to be about a 10 year gap in generations with a lack of trained architects.  

This whole discussion is compounded by the fact that BIM has allowed architects to do more with less staff.  

Who knows, maybe someday the computer will replace us all.

Mar 28, 14 4:17 pm

the computer will replace everyone but creative professionals.  I don't think computers can be capable of creative processes.  Maybe though in the future who knows....

Regardless, the shortage of architects will likely be balanced by the collapse of the global economy in the near future.

Mar 28, 14 4:31 pm

1) People can do more with less now with BIM.  This means the old firm structure has been decimated, and the industry response has been to tighten up the standards for licensure, decreasing the amount of firms out there and competitiveness of the market.

2) Maybe there is a shortage of licensed architects, but not as much of qualified professionals.  I've learned a lot from working, but I've also been able to teach myself a lot through the internet.  The next change to the profession will be that it takes less experience to be qualified due to the ability to teach yourself.

3) People like to believe their experience is very valuable so they project that belief on their hiring standards.  This might create the illusion that there is a lack of architects with the skillsets they need. 


I don't think there is a shortage or will be any time in the near future.  Every firm I've found work at, I end up sitting doing useless things for half the time I'm there because the volume of work simply doesn't exist.

Mar 28, 14 5:51 pm

Given the recent insane tuition hike in the UK and the length of time to become an architect, I would say fewer high school graduates would be able to study architecture, so yes, sometime in the future there might be a shortage, if the RIBA doesn't make a change to the current system in the meantime.

Mar 28, 14 8:29 pm

When you've been in practice for a LONG time (i.e. > 40 years) you understand in your gut that the profession goes through regular boom / bust cycles - typically driven by macro-economic conditions beyond any meaningful influence by the profession. A natural consequence of those cycles is periodic imbalances between available labor and demand for that labor.

Sadly, I've experienced way too many of these cycles during my career, which started in the early 70s. Each time, as employment opportunities became scarce, many trained professionals pursue work in other industries and enrollment in architectural programs declines. Then, as work picks up and firms start hiring again, those trends reverse.

Fears about labor shortages (and labor oversupply) come and go with changes in the economy. And, labor shortages (and labor oversupply) always seem to materialize for a while until adjustments are made and temporary equilibrium occurs. Then, the cycle starts all over again.

As for the impact of BIM on the demand for labor, I've yet to see any authoritative evidence that the total hours required to complete any given project has declined to any significant degree due to this technology. We always find ways to use up the available fee.

Mar 29, 14 11:13 am

the shortage of architects will likely be happened next year 2015,

the same thing happened back in year 2000-2005.

Jul 8, 14 8:32 am
Non Sequitur

next year? how so?

Jul 8, 14 8:42 am

sounds like an unlikely scenario

to go back to the 3 month old comments, it was pointed out less people can do more now.  larry page (along with sergi) recently gave an interview where he said we need to shorten working hours.  we have too many people who want to work and not enough work.  on top of that, we have enough money to buy the stuff we need.  spend more leisure time, and in theory unemployment could go down.  of course part of that means paying reasonable salaries, which larry does.

there may be a training shortage.  more than enough people are trying to become architects, and want to work hard and do the best they can.  if there is a shortage of potential architects with brains, it's because employers don't like people with brains, and would rather find the most desperate people to work shit jobs and free overtime because they are likely to work for less and not have the ambition to move into better positions.

Jul 8, 14 11:19 am

Don't get your hopes up too high.  Its an up and down cycle.  Let the next economic recession hit and there will be too many architects looking for work.  When we're out of recession, firms will be whining there aren't enough architects to hire because what did they do?  they layed off many of them and now need to look for employees.

Jul 8, 14 11:26 am

@jla-x you would think that, right? i found this thing called darwintunes once... I think you can google it.  they used an iterative "better 1, or 2" process that took computer beeps and boops and eventually turned them into music.  it would be interesting if the process could work visually as well.  if social media and online dating have proven anything, its that what appeals to us can be determined with computers and data through our habits, answers to questions, interactions, etc.  i'd be really curious to see what this kind of data mining could yield for architecture... you know, tracking how people interact with a space, what types of visual elements elicit a favorable response.  couldn't replace us outright, but it would be VERY interesting.

Jul 8, 14 12:48 pm

in reviewing NCARB'S 2014 report: 

it looks like the # of ARE completions has been pretty constant at around 3,000 since 2009.

the # of IDP completions has fallen very fast in the same time period, from a peak of 5,000 to about 2,000 in 2013.

the #  of people starting ncarb records, which i think means IDP, has gone from 13,000 in 2008 to 6,000 in 2009 to 9,500 in 2013.

Taken as a whole i'd expect the number of licensed architects in the U.S. to increase very rapidly in the next 10 years and the average amount of time should fall from 12 years to 8ish.

It looks like the primary barrier to licensure is 5 yrs of IDP. Something which NCARB is in the process of drastically reducing and simplifying.

None of this means that the newly licensed architects will be considered well qualified by employers.

Does anyone have any good data on the number of people leaving the profession (to another field or retirement)?

Jul 8, 14 12:54 pm

sorry to hijack a uk thread.....

Jul 9, 14 7:47 am

To the OP..... Where did you hear this? If we have enough people bagging out how bad this profession is and how little money we make and blah blah blah, there will be less students who will be interested in this field therefore one day there may be a shortage of Architects. Then maybe the demand for Architects will be greater.  

Jul 9, 14 8:02 am

 If we have enough people bagging out how bad this profession is and how little money we make and blah blah blah, there will be less students who will be interested in this field therefore one day there may be a shortage of Architects. 

Nah.  Idealistic eighteen-year-olds always think they will be the ones to beat the odds and break through.  I've been through too many of these cycles to believe that anything will fundamentally change.  Sigh.

Jul 22, 14 8:30 am

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