Pros and Cons of Being an Architect (With Definition and Tips)
Updated January 26, 2023
Architects design buildings and spaces using their creative skills and knowledge of design concepts. Working as an architect can have many benefits, including the ability to create impactful work. If you're interested in a career in architecture, you may want to know more about some advantages and disadvantages of working in this field. In this article, we explain what an architect does, list some pros and cons of being an architect and provide some tips for finding a job.
What does an architect do?
An architect plans and designs buildings, structures or spaces for clients. They work closely with clients to understand their requirements for a project and provide initial cost estimates for construction. These licensed professionals prepare architectural specifications for a project using computer software and present them to their clients for approval. Architects develop final construction plans for the project that adhere to regulatory requirements, such as building codes. They manage contracts with various contractors and visit construction sites to ensure the work follows architectural plans and meets the client's expectations.
Read more: Learn About Being an Architect
Pros of being an architect
Here are some advantages of becoming an architect:
Architects design spaces and structures that can impact people and communities. For example, an architect may work with city officials to develop a new community center, or they may help a family develop plans for their home. They make sure these buildings and spaces function correctly and keep people safe by designing structurally sound architectural plans. Often, architects work on projects that remain in communities for decades, which means these professionals can build a legacy through their work. Seeing the impact of their hard work can help architects feel passionate about their profession.
Use of creativity
A career as an architect can be an excellent choice for people who enjoy thinking creatively to develop new ideas. As architects gain experience in the field, they focus more on design work, which allows them to use their creativity to develop innovative architectural plans. These professionals often create several proposals for clients and make adjustments to the designs to meet the project's requirements. This work allows them to experiment with design concepts and consider alternative methods of reaching project objectives. They use their creativity to develop functional and aesthetic architectural plans.
Many people consider architecture to be a respected profession because of the skills involved in this type of work. Architects use visualization and critical thinking skills and knowledge of mathematical concepts, including algebra and geometry, to do their work effectively. Because of their many skills and their role in a construction project, they often receive appreciation from the people they work with, including clients and contractors. Because of this respect, many architects feel proud of their work and contributions to the success of a project.
Diverse job responsibilities
Architects have many job responsibilities, which means they're usually working on different tasks throughout the day. For example, in a typical workday, an architect may meet with a client for a consultation, draw plans for a project, and prepare a cost estimate. They may work on many projects each year, depending on the scope and size of each project. These diverse responsibilities help them learn how to adapt to different situations and gain new skills to grow in the profession.
With training and experience, architects can make lucrative salaries compared to other professionals in the general workforce. The average salary for an architect is $96,580 per year. An architect's salary depends on their geographic area, employer and professional experience. Typically, architects can earn higher salaries as they become more experienced in the field and complete more complex projects. Architects with postgraduate education and additional certifications also have the potential to earn more money.
Read more: How Much Do Architects Make?
Cons of being an architect
Here are a few potential disadvantages to becoming an architect:
Architect jobs require candidates to have at least a bachelor's degree. Many students who want to work in this field choose to earn a Bachelor of Architecture degree from a college or university accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Unlike other four-year undergraduate programs, a bachelor's degree in architecture usually takes five years to complete. While working toward this degree, students take a variety of rigorous academic coursework, including classes in architectural history, building design, construction practices, math and computer-aided design and drafting (CADD).
Lengthy career path
It typically still takes several years for professionals to become an architect once they earn their degree. All states require architects to have a license, and most require professionals to complete a three-year internship before applying for licensure. During those three years, aspiring architects work under the supervision of licensed architects and assist with research, documents and architectural plans. After completing an internship, architects can apply to take the Architect Registration Examination through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. If candidates pass the seven-part exam, they can become licensed and begin working as an architect.
While most architects work in full-time positions, many of these professionals often work over 40 hours per week. They may work additional hours when they're meeting deadlines or finishing a project. Sometimes, they may work in the evenings or on weekends to complete their tasks. Because of this, some architects may find it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It's helpful for these professionals to use some strategies to manage their time effectively, such as scheduling personal time each week or prioritizing their work tasks every day.
Some architects may feel pressure in their jobs because they have responsibility for the outcomes of structures and spaces. If there are any mistakes with the construction of a building or if the ultimate result differs from what the client expected, architects may be liable for those errors. Architects typically have comprehensive insurance coverage to protect themselves in case of emergencies, such as structural damage to a building. Because they work in high-pressure environments, architects pay close attention to their work and check all the details of a project.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts little growth in the profession between 2020 and 2030. According to the BLS, the limited employment growth results from an improvement in modeling software and other technological advances that may improve productivity in the field, leading to a decreased demand for new architects. While the field may have limited growth, the BLS predicts about 9,400 job openings for architects each year. Those new jobs are likely to come as architects transfer to other occupations or retire from the workforce.
Tips for becoming an architect
Here are some tips for pursuing a career as an architect:
It's important to develop skills that can help you be successful. To work in this field, architects usually have excellent creativity and visualization skills to help them develop new ideas and imagine how the various parts of a specific space can work together to create a cohesive look. These professionals also use math and engineering concepts to specify measurements in their plans and ensure the project meets structural requirements. You can develop these skills by taking a variety of math and design classes and working on projects to develop your creativity, such as art projects.
Build a portfolio
Having a professional portfolio can help architects showcase their work to potential clients. Begin building your portfolio early to help you demonstrate your skills and qualifications in architecture. If you're working toward a bachelor's degree, you might include some school projects or designs in your portfolio. When you apply for internships to gain experience, you can use your portfolio to help distinguish yourself from other candidates and show employers your commitment to the field. As you advance in your career, continue to update your portfolio, so you're highlighting your best work.
Network with others
It's helpful to build relationships with other professionals in your field because these connections can help you learn new skills or find job opportunities. Use your interpersonal skills to develop these relationships as you meet new people. Sending a thank you note to someone who helped you on a project or asking an experienced architect to have coffee with you are examples of ways that you can network with others. You can also consider joining a professional organization, such as the American Institute of Architects, to help you make connections with other architects.
Please note that none of the organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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