Thursday, July 15, 2010

Too late to become an Architect

I have an undergraduate degree in art history. I went on to a masters in architecture program, where I did well. Unfortunately from a career standpoint, but fortunately from a personal standpoint, I left the program to marry someone whose job required somewhat frequent moves. I worked as a cartographic draftsperson (before computers) for a couple of years. When we relocated again, I worked for Lehman Brothers selling securities......unrelated field, but well-paying and fun in its own way. We ultimately settled down in a small city in upstate New York. Because I had young children and needed a career with lots of flexibility, and because I felt the need to have work that had some meaning, I became a social worker (MSW). I enjoy my work, but I have never lost my interest in architecture or design. I still sketch, have done some remodeling projects and find myself taking photos of buildings for no good reason. (Career-wise, it's quite a chequered past.)

I have no grandiose ideas about becoming an architect at this late date, but I'd like to get back into that world in some way. I have at least 16 more working years. My question to you is: what entry level position or what skill is most needed in an architectural design firm? I'm guessing CAD drawing, but I don't know. Are there other skills that are useful? Any thoughts or suggestions would be ever so appreciated.

Your question is a first for me. I applaud your lasting passion in architecture despite your career journey.

First, why pass on the idea of becoming an architect. You have the accredited MArch; all you need know is to complete IDP ( and pass the ARE. Granted, it may be a tough road, but you have 16 years years.

As for positions or skills, do research on the discipline since your departure by reading blogs, architectural journals or attend lectures are area schools, etc. CAD may be OK, but BIM (Building Information Modeling) is the new CAD. Perhaps becoming a consultant on sustainable (become LEED AP) or another area of the discipline.

I would suggest you pursue skills for which you have a passion - photography, design, graphic design, etc. Do you wish to work for someone or yourself?

One resource to consider is "What Color is Your Parachute" by Richard Bolles.

Dr. Architecture

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