Do we love architecture? Of course we do! It’s one of the greatest professions in the world: it’s varied, creative, challenging, even fairly secure – something hard to come by in the current economic climate.
Architects get to travel, to benefit society, and to shape the world around them.
So really: what’s not to love?! If you’re still not convinced, in this article we’ll give you 15 reasons why being an architect just can’t be beat…
Fifteen reasons to be an architect
1. An architecture degree offers some of the most diverse training available
You’ll come out of an architecture degree with the widest skill set imaginable: math and physics, art and design, business and psychology. Yes, training to be an architect is expensive and time-consuming, but it prepares you thoroughly for the profession and for many others besides (should you ever decide to leave!).
It also teaches you how to keep on top of multiple tasks, accept and act on feedback, and other essential life skills.
2. You get to see projects through from beginning to end
In a lot of jobs, you never get to see the fruits of your labor – consider the office worker who compiles data but doesn’t understand how it shapes policy, or the sous chef who isn’t able to watch diners enjoying their food. As an architect, you’re likely to be involved in building projects from start to finish: planning, revising, realizing and evaluating.
Your work produces a significant, tangible product, which contributes to feelings of job satisfaction. Additionally, observing the management of big projects can be invaluable when working on your own, personal projects.
3. You are better than most people at staying cool under stress
Most degrees are assessed by written work and exams which, while burdensome, have nothing on the stress of the architecture crit! Presenting and defending your ideas in front of tutors and peers is one of the scariest parts of an architecture degree, but the benefits are huge.
You’ll develop confidence speaking in front of a group and an unusually tough skin, which is an advantage in relationships as much as in the workplace. Crits also teach you how to handle the stress of deadlines and of competing priorities.
4. You meet a lot of people with the same interests as you
Architects are more homogenous than many other professional groups – and we mean that in a good way! Put a group of teachers or doctors together and their passions are likely to be diverse. But put a group of architects together and they’ll probably have plenty of interests in common beyond their actual jobs, such as art, design, fashion, cities, travel, history …in short, all the things that drew them to architecture in the first place. Your fellow students, and then your colleagues, might just become your friends for life.
5. You have a lot of independence in your work
Micro-management is one of the most hated aspects of the late-capitalist economy, and its ‘negative impacts are so intense’ that it is ‘among the top three reasons employees resign’. Of course, architects cannot escape this completely; in your junior years you will be more closely monitored than in your senior, and you might draw the short straw with a particularly bad boss at any time in your career.
But in general, you’ll be allowed to work independently – in fact, this is a necessity, as building projects are just too big for one person to micro-manage. As you climb the career ladder, not only will you be left alone to complete tasks, you’ll even have the ability to start directing your own work.
6. You get to be creative (nearly) every day
If you’re the kind of person who gets their energy from creating, then architecture is a dream career. Even on your most boring days, you won’t have to wash dishes or stand on an assembly line or move someone else’s text around a PowerPoint slide.
Creativity is the lifeblood of the profession, whether it’s in a practical sense (drawing, model-making) or a theoretical one (‘how can I make this system work better?’). Architecture may be stressful, but it’s rarely boring.
7. Other people tend to respect you and your work
Everyone knows how hard it is to become an architect, so it’s up there among the ‘serious’ professions with law, medicine and so on. Not only that, you’ll be making something that society actually needs (see 8 below). You’ll never be embarrassed about introducing yourself as an architect at parties, and your professional status gives you a kind of gravitas that means people are more inclined to hear what you have to say.
8. Architecture is practical and useful profession
People will always need buildings (and infrastructure, and neighborhoods, and cities, and so on). Unless you’re very unlucky, you’ll never lie awake at 3am wondering whether your job is pointless and you’re just a cog in a corporate machine. Architects provide a product that is needed all over the planet by the old and the young, the rich and the poor.
If you work with a strong moral/ethical code, there is no doubt you can make an active and worthwhile contribute to society.
9. You can choose to work in a firm or for yourself
Let’s face it, we’re all different. Some people want security, familiarity, and are happy to take instructions from those higher up the food chain; for others this is a nightmarish vision, and they long to make their own choices even if there’s a risk attached. The great thing about architecture is that is caters to both types of people, and several in between (working for a small, new firm, for example, offers more autonomy but is also more risky than working for a big, established one).
You can find a workplace that suits your temperament.
10. You can work nearly anywhere in the world
There are not many professions which allow you to travel almost anywhere on Earth. Luckily, architecture is one of them! If your skills are sought after in London, they’ll be just as sought after in Shanghai, Sydney and Santiago. It’s true that language is a barrier to some extent, but large firms can make arrangements in this situation and in any case, international business is often conducted in English (lucky for us!).
If you speak another language, you could even consider permanent relocation.
11. Architecture is changing all the time
If you expect to ‘learn architecture’ at university and then practice it, you might get a nasty shock when you enter the world of work! Architecture is a dynamic profession that changes all the time, whether that’s in response to social trends, environmental change, technological advances or something else.
You’ll never know all there is to know, or have time to rest on your laurels – there’s always something new to learn. And this is exactly the kind of thing that keeps people in love with their jobs.
12. You are actively encouraged to experiment and make mistakes
Workers are rarely encouraged to mess up – mistakes cost time and money, so most companies do whatever they can to avoid them. And while you’re unlikely ever to be thanked for deleting two weeks of work from someone’s hard drive, in architecture mistakes are generally seen as a way for us to grow.
Your first idea is rarely your best, once you’ve thought about it more deeply and taken advice from others; a well-managed process of experimentation and revision is what tends to deliver the highest-quality work.
13. You can choose from a wide variety of specialisms
Architects are rarely ‘just’ architects. There are so many aspects of architecture you can choose to specialize in: residential, commercial, sustainability, landscape, interiors, planning, and countless others. And you don’t even have to pick one and then stick with it forever (though many people do)!
If you find yourself with a growing interest in a different specialism, and are able to get enough experience, you’re free to pursue several directions over the course of your career – or, if you can handle it, several at once.
14. If you want it, you have a career for life
Compared to other professions, there is not a great deal of risk involved in becoming an architect. It’s basically a secure job. While aspects of it are now computerized, human architects are still essential – for example, to create beautiful designs that address a client’s particular needs; to respond intuitively to and smooth over issues during the design and construction process; or to evaluate the success or failure of a design based on subjective experience.
If you want to, you can keep being an architect until you shuffle off this mortal coil.
15. Architects literally change the world
Nothing changes the landscape like buildings. That’s why Dubai is distinguishable from Delhi, and Vancouver from Venice. If you want to let the world know you were here, design a Parthenon or an Empire State Building! Most architects won’t, of course, but even if you contribute to a successful school, hospital or housing estate you’ve put your mark on the world. And it’s much less controversial than becoming a politician.
So there you have it. Architecture is truly the greatest job in the world! You have the security of knowing you have a lifelong career, but the freedom to shape it however you choose – as well as the respect of wider society and plenty of independence in your day-to-day work.
Of course, the journey to becoming an architect involves a lot of time, money and stress (see our article Why We Hate Architecture for more on this!), but we think it’s totally worth it to join such a unique and vibrant profession.