As an aspiring architect, you may be considering whether or not to pursue licensure. While obtaining a license can certainly have its benefits, it is important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of being an architect before making a decision.
So in this article we will do just that, and weigh up both sides of becoming a licensed architect to help you make an informed decision. It is worth noting that, as licensed professionals ourselves, we believe that licensure can be a valuable step in an architect’s career.
However, understand that this is a personal decision and recognize the gravity of the choice.
What are the pros to being an architect?
01 – The opportunity to create and design buildings and spaces that improve people’s lives:
As an architect, you have the opportunity to design buildings and spaces that not only look good, but also function well and enhance the lives of the people who use them. This could include designing a comfortable and efficient home, a safe and welcoming school, or a functional and attractive office building.
02 – The ability to work on a variety of projects:
As an architect, you have the chance to work on a wide range of projects, from small residential buildings to large commercial or public projects. This variety keeps your work interesting and allows you to constantly learn and grow as a professional.
03 – The chance to work with a team of professionals:
In the field of architecture, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a team of professionals, including engineers, contractors, and interior designers. This collaboration allows you to bring your designs to life and ensure that they are structurally sound and functional.
04 – The opportunity to work in a creative field:
Architecture is a creative field that allows you to use your artistic skills and imagination to bring your designs to life. You’ll have the chance to explore different design styles and approaches and find creative solutions to complex problems.
05 – There’s always more to learn:
Continued learning and growth is a fundamental aspect of the journey to becoming a licensed architect and beyond. As a professional, it is important to continually experiment and learn from the outcomes, both positive and negative. Constructive criticism can be a valuable tool for growth, as can learning from mentors, peers, and other industry experts.
Embracing new ideas and being open to learning from others can foster personal and professional development, leading to success in the field of architecture.
06 – The ability to make a positive impact on the environment:
As an architect, you have the opportunity to design buildings and spaces that are energy-efficient and sustainable. This can help reduce the environmental impact of the built environment and contribute to the conservation of natural resources.
07 – The opportunity to work on projects that contribute to the character and identity of a community: Architecture has the power to shape the character and identity of a community. As an architect, you have the chance to work on projects that contribute to the unique sense of place and culture of a community.
08 – Respected profession:
Architecture is often seen as a respected profession due to the diverse skill set required to be successful in this field. Architects utilize visualization, critical thinking, and a strong understanding of mathematical concepts such as algebra and geometry to effectively design and plan buildings and spaces.
The expertise and leadership provided by architects during a construction project often leads to appreciation from clients, contractors, and other team members. This respect for their work can often lead to a sense of pride and fulfillment in their contributions to the success of a project.
09 – The chance to see your designs come to fruition: You’ll have the opportunity to see your designs come to life, from the initial concept to the completed project. This can be a rewarding experience as you see your vision become a reality.
10 – The opportunity to continuously learn:
The field of architecture is constantly evolving, with new technologies and design trends emerging all the time. As an architect, you’ll have the opportunity to continuously learn and stay up-to-date with these developments, ensuring that you are at the forefront of the industry.
11 – The potential for financial stability and a high earning potential:
12 – The opportunity to travel:
The opportunity to travel and experience new places and structures is a major advantage of pursuing a career in architecture. While reading books can provide valuable knowledge, architecture is a spatial art that truly comes alive through experience. The design and execution of a structure can be fully understood and appreciated by visiting it in person.
Travel allows you to observe and absorb the various elements that make up a place, including the people, culture, and streets, all of which can inform and enrich your design work..
13 – The chance to work with a wide range of clients and stakeholders:
As an architect, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients and stakeholders, including property developers, government agencies, and community groups. This allows you to collaborate with a diverse group of people and learn from their unique perspectives.
14 – The ability to be self-employed or work for a firm:
15 – Develop good graphical communication skills:
In the field of architecture, graphics play a crucial role in communication and expression. The language of architecture is often conveyed through the use of graphics, and studying architecture can help students develop an eye for good graphics.
Additionally, the process of creating presentations throughout their education helps architecture students hone their skills in portraying material through effective graphical formats. Overall, the ability to create strong graphics is a key aspect of success in the field of architecture.
16 – The opportunity to work on projects that have a lasting impact:
Architecture has a lasting impact on the built environment. As an architect, you have the chance to work on projects that will be a part of the community for years or even decades to come.
17 – The chance to use your skills and expertise to solve complex problems and find creative solutions:
You’ll be faced with a variety of complex problems that require both technical and creative solutions. You’ll have the chance to use your skills and expertise to find innovative solutions that meet the needs of your clients and stakeholders.
18 – Diverse set of responsibilities:
Architects have numerous job responsibilities, they often work on a variety of tasks throughout the day. These tasks may include meetings with clients, creating plans for projects, and preparing cost estimates.
The number of projects an architect works on in a year can vary depending on the size and scope of each project. This diverse range of responsibilities helps architects learn to adapt to different situations and acquire new skills to advance in their profession.
19 – The opportunity to be a leader and take charge of the design process:
You’ll have the opportunity to coordinate with team members and make important decisions that will shape the final design of a project. This leadership role can be challenging, but also very rewarding as you see your vision come to life.
What are the cons to being an architect?
01 – Complex educational requirements:
Candidates typically need to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Many aspiring architects choose to earn a Bachelor of Architecture degree from an accredited college or university. This degree typically takes five years to complete, rather than the standard four years for an undergraduate degree.
During this program, students take a range of challenging academic coursework, including classes in architectural history, building design, construction practices, and math, as well as computer-aided design and drafting.
02 – Long career path:
Even after earning a degree, it can take several years for professionals to become licensed architects. All states require architects to hold a license, and in most states, aspiring architects must complete a three-year internship before applying for licensure. During this internship, professionals work under the supervision of licensed architects and assist with research, documents, and architectural plans.
Once the internship is complete, architects can apply to take the Architect Registration Examination through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. If candidates pass this seven-part exam, they can become licensed and begin working as an architect.
03 – Long hours and a demanding workload:
Architects often work long hours and have a heavy workload, especially when they are under tight deadlines or working on multiple projects at once. This can lead to fatigue and stress and can make it difficult to find a healthy work-life balance.
04 – The pressure to meet clients’ expectations:
As an architect, you’ll be responsible for meeting the expectations of your clients and stakeholders. This can be a lot of pressure, especially if you’re working on high-profile projects or dealing with difficult clients. For example, if a client has a specific vision for their project, you’ll need to work to translate that vision into a functional and aesthetically pleasing design.
05 – The need to constantly learn and stay up-to-date:
The field of architecture is constantly evolving, with new technologies and design trends emerging all the time. As an architect, you’ll need to continuously learn and stay up-to-date with these developments in order to stay competitive and relevant in the industry. This can be time-consuming and requires a commitment to ongoing professional development.
06 – The risk of project delays and budget overruns:
Architecture projects can be complex and involve many moving parts, which means there is always the risk of delays and budget overruns. As an architect, you’ll need to be able to adapt and find creative solutions to these challenges in order to keep projects on track.
For example, if a project is delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, you’ll need to work with the team to come up with a plan to get the project back on schedule.
07 – The possibility of legal and liability issues:
As an architect, you’ll be responsible for the safety and functionality of the buildings and spaces you design. This means you could face legal and liability issues if something goes wrong. For example, if a building you designed has structural issues or fails to meet building codes, you could be held liable.
08 – The need for strong communication skills:
Architecture involves working with a wide range of people, including clients, contractors, and team members. You’ll need strong communication skills in order to effectively convey your ideas and collaborate with others. This includes the ability to listen to and understand the needs and concerns of your clients, as well as the ability to clearly explain your designs and ideas to a variety of audiences.
09 – The possibility of working on projects that are not aligned with your values or interests:
As an architect, you may be asked to work on projects that are not aligned with your values or interests. This can be a difficult challenge, especially if you’re passionate about certain causes or design styles. For example, you may be asked to design a building that goes against your environmental values or that does not align with your design aesthetic.
10 – The risk of financial insecurity:
While architecture can be a financially stable career, there is always the risk of financial insecurity. Projects can be delayed or cancelled, and the demand for architects can fluctuate. This can lead to unstable income and uncertainty in your career.
11 – The possibility of working in a competitive environment:
The field of architecture can be competitive, with many professionals vying for high-profile projects and clients. This can create a stressful and competitive environment. For example, you may have to compete with other architects for a contract or project, which can be stressful and challenging.
12 – The need for strong project management skills:
As an architect, you’ll be responsible for managing multiple projects at once and ensuring that they are completed on time and on budget. This requires strong project management skills, including the ability to prioritize tasks and delegate responsibilities.
13 – Limited growth potential:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of architecture is expected to experience limited growth between 2020 and 2030. This slow growth is attributed to advances in modeling software and other technological innovations that may increase productivity and lead to a reduced demand for new architects.
Despite this limited growth, the BLS predicts that there will be approximately 9,400 job openings for architects each year, largely due to retirements and transfers to other occupations.
14 – The possibility of working in a physically demanding environment:
Architecture can involve working in a physically demanding environment, such as visiting construction sites, carrying heavy equipment, and standing for long periods of time. This can be tiring and can take a physical toll on your body.
15 – The risk of job-related injuries:
Working in the field of architecture can also put you at risk of job-related injuries, such as falls, cuts, and strains. It’s important to take safety precautions and be aware of the potential risks, especially when working on construction sites or handling heavy equipment.
16 -The need for strong problem-solving skills:
Architecture involves solving complex problems and finding creative solutions. You’ll need strong problem-solving skills in order to tackle these challenges effectively. This includes the ability to think critically, analyze data and information, and come up with innovative solutions.
17 – The possibility of working in a stressful environment:
Architecture can be a stressful field, with tight deadlines and high stakes. You may need to handle multiple tasks and responsibilities at once, which can be overwhelming at times. This stress can be compounded by the pressure to meet clients’ expectations and the risk of delays and budget overruns.
18 – The risk of burnout:
The demanding nature of architecture can lead to burnout if you’re not careful. It’s important to find a healthy work-life balance and make time for self-care in order to avoid burnout. This can include taking breaks, getting enough rest, and engaging in activities outside of work that help you relax and recharge.
FAQ’s about architect pros and cons
What are the positives of architecture?
Architecture has numerous positive aspects, ranging from the individual to societal levels. Here are some of the primary ones:
- Artistic Expression: Architecture is an art form that allows designers to express their creativity and innovation. It can reflect an architect’s unique style or vision, and provide a sense of joy, inspiration, or contemplation to those who interact with it.
- Sociocultural Impact: Architecture is a physical representation of a society’s culture, values, and history. It’s a form of communication that tells stories about the people and the time when the structures were created. Landmarks, memorials, and public buildings can generate a sense of collective identity and pride.
- Urban Planning: Good architecture and urban design can create better cities. It contributes to creating walkable cities, reducing traffic congestion, increasing public transportation use, and enhancing the overall livability of urban spaces. It also promotes safety and efficiency in public spaces.
- Environmental Sustainability: Architecture plays a key role in sustainability. Eco-friendly design strategies, like passive design, renewable energy incorporation, green roofs, and efficient use of materials, can help reduce a building’s environmental footprint.
- Economic Benefits: Architecture contributes to the economy not only through the construction industry but also through tourism. Iconic buildings and well-designed cities attract tourists, boosting local businesses.
- Health and Well-being: Thoughtfully designed spaces can have a significant impact on people’s health and well-being. This includes not just physical health, through factors like good ventilation and natural light, but also mental well-being, by creating spaces that help reduce stress and enhance productivity.
- Technology Integration: Modern architecture embraces the integration of technology, contributing to smarter and more efficient buildings. Smart homes and buildings are increasingly prevalent, offering improved comfort, efficiency, and safety.
- Disaster Resilience: Architecture plays a crucial role in building communities resilient to natural disasters. Architects can design buildings and infrastructures that can withstand earthquakes, floods, and other calamities.
- Inclusivity: Good architecture considers the needs of all users, including the elderly, children, and people with disabilities, creating spaces that are accessible and inclusive.
- Preservation of History: Architectural preservation keeps history alive by maintaining and restoring historic buildings. It provides a tangible connection to the past and a way to learn about different architectural styles and historic periods.
These are just some examples of how architecture can positively impact individuals and societies. The practice of architecture has the potential to touch nearly every aspect of our lives.
Is it stressful to be an architect?
Architecture can be a stressful field, especially when working on tight deadlines or dealing with complex projects or clients. Some common sources of stress in this profession include:
- The pressure to meet clients’ expectations and deliver high-quality designs
- The risk of project delays or budget overruns
- The need to continuously learn and stay up-to-date with new technologies and design trends
- The possibility of legal and liability issues if something goes wrong with a project
- The risk of financial insecurity, as the demand for architects can fluctuate
That being said, stress is a normal part of any job and can be managed with good time management and stress-reduction techniques. It’s important to find ways to balance work and personal life and to make time for self-care in order to avoid burnout.
Some strategies that may help reduce stress in the field of architecture include taking breaks, setting boundaries, staying organized, and seeking support from colleagues and mentors.
What the reality of being an architect?
The reality of being an architect can vary depending on your specific job and workplace. However, here are a few common aspects of the job:
- Architects are responsible for designing and planning buildings and spaces, taking into consideration factors such as functionality, aesthetics, safety, and sustainability.
- They often work with a team of professionals, including engineers, contractors, and other architects, to bring their designs to life.
- Architects typically have a demanding workload and may work long hours, especially when under tight deadlines or working on multiple projects at once.
- They may work on a wide range of projects, from residential buildings to commercial spaces to public infrastructure.
- Architects often need to meet with clients to discuss their needs and preferences, as well as present and defend their designs.
- They may also be responsible for managing budgets, coordinating with contractors, and ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget.
- Architects may face challenges such as project delays, budget overruns, and legal or liability issues.
Overall, being an architect involves a combination of creativity, technical expertise, and project management skills. It can be a rewarding and fulfilling career for those who are passionate about design and are willing to put in the hard work and dedication required to succeed in this field.