What can you do with an architecture degree?

Interested in studying architecture or thinking of changing to a different profession?
What you can do with an architecture degree

For those interested in studying architecture or architects that want to change to a different profession, it’s important to understand what can be done with an architecture degree.

In this article we discuss the various jobs that architects and students can consider with their skill sets and education, and to support this crucial decision making process, we highlight the reasons for a change career, the highest paying jobs in the field, and the usefulness of a degree and Masters in architecture.

What kind of jobs can I get with an architecture degree?

…20 Jobs you can do with a bachelor in architecture degree

Architect

Obviously and as we know, architects plan, develop, and design various types of buildings and structures, where they are responsible for overseeing each step of the development process, from initial design to completion.

As an architect, you must often communicate with clients and other building professionals (i.e. contractors and engineers) about design plans. Architects also specialize in particular areas, such as residential design, commercial buildings, green architecture, etc.  

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers utilize numerous art methods to develop visual designs that are used in magazines, labels, marketing materials, signage, as well as other media.

ArchDaily mentions that taking a short graphic design course as an architecture student can help you work within architecture later on while focusing on communication design.

Interior Designer

The role of Interior Designers as to renovate internal spaces, fixtures, and fittings, using their architectural, creative design, and project management skills to ensure that spaces are both attractive and efficient.

Therefore, the large focus on designing and designing spaces is similar to the profession of an Architect. Like architects, interior designers must work within their client’s needs and budgets.

Landscape Architect

Landscape architecture may be for people with an interest in environmental restoration, developing recreational areas, stormwater management, and environmental conservation. Landscape architects don’t just design outdoor landscapes, but also infrastructure, public spaces, agriculture, and forestry.

Urban planner

Urban city plans are improved to meet the needs of the changing urban environment. Urban planners design and develop plans in a particular town, city, country, or other forms of landmass. Moreso, the job requires problem-solving skills to generate efficient designs for communities.

Extreme Architect

Architecture lab talks about how the increase in natural disasters and climate change generated a new subfield: Extreme Architecture. These architects specialize in creating world solutions to tackle the dynamic conditions of the planet.

Production designer

For designers with an interest in the entertainment industry, production designers develop sets for television, films, and theatre. Unlike architects, production designers can work on story-driven stages, such as a colony on Mars or a medieval castle.

Some skills that can transfer from being an architect to a production designer are meeting deadlines, working with others on projects, and creating in a conceptual environment.  

Building surveyor

A building surveyor is responsible for the conservation, modification, repairing, renovation, and restoration of existing buildings. Moreover, you must have extensive experience in these areas, and knowing different materials is a plus.

Structural engineer

Structural engineers are responsible for ensuring that buildings are constructed properly and that they are stable and safe. These engineers also complete reports, prepare designs, perform calculations, choose materials, and offer professional input.

If you are interested in design, structural engineers develop structures to withstand surrounding environmental factors. Also, structural engineers work closely with architects on building projects.    

Teacher/professor

Many architecture graduates become professors after obtaining their degrees. This includes teaching undergraduate or graduate students. Moreover, having a part-time or visiting faculty position could allow you to simultaneously work for an architecture firm. As a result, a teaching job can provide a steady stream of income while you’re gaining experience in practice.

Another benefit of becoming a professor is the opportunity to learn from and teach your students. Additionally, teachers often plan curricula, conduct research, secure grants, and publish writing.

Writer

In becoming an architect, students learn to use descriptive language to communicate their oftentimes complex ideas to professors, critics, and classmates. This skill can be used in a variety of writing, such as fiction, non-fiction, academic, etc.

The academic ghost market could be a good starting point for those good at writing papers and essays. Additionally, if you want to remain in the realm of architecture, writing for an architecture publication (such as archisoup!) is an option.

Politician

As Architects are responsible for organizing society, some firms take an active political role by working with city governments to advocate for the building of a structure, form predictions, and develop criteria for the city’s evolution.

Not only that, but Architects usually have skills in communicating, understanding people and the environment, and influencing the public. These skills are all beneficial for becoming a good politician.

Artist

There is a close relationship between art and space. One good example of this is Olafur Eliasson’s artwork, which showcases the harmony between the two. As a result of this relationship, artists occasionally collaborate with architects.

Not only that, but the spatial reasoning and visualization skills that architects possess can be useful in developing installation art and sculptures. 

Textile designer

The fields of textiles and architecture have more in common than you may think. Like architects, textile designers focus on color, construction, tactility, patterns, and form.

Not only that, but the relationship between skin and structure exists within both practices. Meanwhile, high fashion consists of intricate and sculptural garments, which can be related to buildings.

Photographer

Similar to architects, photographers consider several factors to create a beautiful composition. This includes color, aesthetics, environment, and the experiences of the photographed places and people.

Restoration architect/manager

Restoration architects or managers are responsible for the preservation and conservation of historic buildings, structures, and monuments. Moreover, they develop plans to restore these structures from decay.

This job is perfect for individuals who enjoy history. Additionally, restoration architects have a vast knowledge of preservation techniques for materials like wood, steel, granite, concrete, etc.

At the same time, the profession often receives criticism from groups that are against the renovation of heritage sites.

Architectural historian

An architectural historian aids in the restoration and preservation of historically significant buildings. While restoration managers do the planning and physical labor of maintaining old structures, architectural historians provide information about the building throughout history.

More than that, they usually work for historical societies, government agencies, cultural preservation organizations, museums, and public planning commissions.

Some architectural historians focus on a particular subject, such as the destruction of and preparation for natural disasters in history. Some historians also study and write about architecture throughout time. 

Industrial designer

In contrast to architects that design site-specific large structures, industrial designers develop smaller-scale objects, which are mass-produced. As an industrial designer, you have the opportunity to collaborate with engineers, accountants, and market analysts, and materials scientists.

Working with these specialists is necessary to develop products like cars, appliances, food packaging, and technological devices/gadgets. 

Researcher

With the advancements of digital technology in Architecture, the field has drastically shifted in its methods for representation. Also, the increased use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and computation design have led to greater possibilities in designing structures.

Architecture researchers outline project plans, perform data analysis, conduct fieldwork, write papers about their findings, present their work, and conduct reviews of others’. Therefore, they use problem-solving skills to contribute to the advancement of the field.

Furniture designer

The fields of Architecture and Furniture Design are very close. Historically famous architects like Charles and Ray Eames, Mies van der Rohe, Alvar Aalto, and Arne Jacobsen have had extraordinary impacts on furniture design.

As an architect, you can simultaneously design furniture, similar to Zaha Hadid.

For those with an architecture background but interest in pursuing furniture design, both professions focus on proportion, materials, functionality, concept, etc.

Is it time for a career change from architecture?

You may find that working as an architect is not what you expected as a student. First, most of the creative work that is comparable to the numerous class projects occurs at the top positions of a firm.

Meanwhile, junior employees are constrained to working at their desks. Not only that, but architects usually work long hours, past the nine-to-five. At the same time, the salary for architects is minimal, especially for those living in expensive cities.

While many push factors can lead you to consider changing your career, also consider the benefits of remaining as an architect. For starters, a large number of people who pursue architecture have a great passion for designing buildings and spaces.

Therefore, remaining in the field will allow you to continue doing so. Also, at one point, all of the famous architects you know had to incur the difficult years of starting as an architect.

As a result, you can climb the ranks within your firm or become a great architect in the field.

For more information to help your career decision process, check out Leaving the Architecture Profession …I Don’t Want to be an Architect Anymore.

What are the highest paying jobs with an architecture degree?

For some, the salary may be a determining factor in deciding whether or not to work as an architect, and what position to consider.

Business Owner – $147,452

According to Design Intelligence, a principal or business owner manages and owns their architecture firm. On average, they receive a salary of $147,452 a year. Additionally, they usually earn a bonus, which pays around 45.6%. As a result, business owners are annually paid about $214,690.

Project manager – $137,376

Salary.com states that project managers oversee the planning and construction of a building project. On average, they earn a yearly salary of USD 137,376 per year.

Professor – $114,314

Architecture professors pass on their knowledge to the next generation of architects. Additionally, they develop curriculum, manage school extracurricular activities, perform research, etc. However, this position often requires a Ph.D. On average, teachers earn $114,314 per year.

Developer – $104,958

Archdaily says that the architect-developer considered how a project relates to its surrounding environment. Moreover, they manage the design and construction of their buildings. Additionally, they make approximately $104,458 each year.

BIM Architect – $100,334

Architects that focus on performing building information modeling (BIM) are tasked with performing analysis on building systems, such as HVAC, heating, cooling, and other external factors like sunlight and shade. They earn an average of $100,334 a year.

For more information on salaries, have a look at A Guide to US Architectural Salaries.

FAQs

Is architecture a good degree?

There are many benefits and setbacks to consider before choosing to study towards an architecture degree. 1000 Years of Career Advice outlines some of the pros and cons of being an architect.

Pros

  • You can be creative
  • It’s well respected
  • It can be rewarding
  • Travel is encouraged
  • You have the chance to meet many people

Cons

  • Requires a lot of time to qualify
  • Low wages
  • It’s very competitive
  • The risk involved
  • Uncertainty during economic recessions

Is architecture a worthless degree?

In 2012, NBC reported the top five “Useless” majors following the 2008 recession. On it, architecture was ranked fifth among other art-related fields. In response to the list being shared on social media, architects and creative professionals were outraged.

At the time, the employment rate was high for architects, reaching 13.9 percent for recent graduates and 9.2 for experienced architects. However, professionals had a problem with NBC equating struggle with uselessness.

While the architecture field is highly affected by macroeconomic trends, construction never ends. Therefore, architects are important to ensure the quality of construction.

More than that, obtaining a degree in architecture teaches you to think critically, innovate, communicate, and collaborate with others on problem-solving.

What can you do with a master’s in architecture?

Obtaining a Master’s in Architecture holds certain advantages over just attending an undergraduate program.

However, since this requires additional years of schooling, as well as more years of paying tuition, it is important to understand the effectiveness of having a master’s degree.

Best Architecture Masters Ranking describes the masters in architecture as effective in forming connections for your career. First, studying in a graduate program can help you meet and build relationships with extraordinary professors and students with similar passions.

Not only that, but the degree can provide a higher chance of getting selected for a job.

At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s School of Architecture and Design, SoAD’s blog talks about why a Master’s in Architecture is a necessity.

First, you can become a licensed architect if you did not already complete an undergraduate program that’s accredited by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).

A Master’s in Architecture can also lead to higher salaries, the ability to teach as a university professor, and prepare you to open your own practice. Here is a list of careers that those with a Master’s can pursue.

  • Architect
  • Professor
  • Researcher
  • Writer
  • Architecture Historian

What alternative careers are there for architects?

Architects have many options for careers apart from designing buildings. Apart from the aforementioned jobs, BIM technicians/coordinators, lighting designers, and video game designers are closely related to Architecture.

For those who are considering changing from Architecture to a non-creative field, there are many skills from being an Architect that are transferable.

Events planners, facilities managers, project managers, and entrepreneurs are just some examples. For more information, check out Alternative Careers for Architects.

Summary

A degree in architecture can lead to many possibilities for jobs, from graphic design to even politics. Meanwhile, becoming an architect offers a multitude of benefits but can be risky, especially during times of economic decline.

Overall, there are many factors to consider when deciding to become an architect or pursue a similar field.

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