To be honest, I'm not sure what to expect as a response to this email, perhaps some advice I suppose. My name is Ryan Hanson, I'm a Senior Biology student at Brigham Young University-Idaho. You're probably already slightly confused as to why a Senior Biology student is emailing you at all. The truth is, although I'm planning on and preparing for a degree in health care as a physician, I have to admit I've always had an interest in architecture. I guess I doubted my abilities to become a successful architect because I don't consider myself the most creative or artistic person. I do well with science and math and just about anything I truly put my mind towards academically. I feel like I'd enjoy a career as a physician, but I can't help but notice how architectural models and renderings catch my attention every time I see them. I'm intrigued by how buildings look, and how I think they could look better. I love seeing bold, fresh designs and sometimes imagine myself coming up with those designs and seeing them made into real, usable structures.
My dilemma is that I've never had the chance to "test the architectural waters." Now, at age 24, and on the verge of graduating, I wonder if such a dramatic change in direction (from Biology/healthcare to Architecture) would be feasible. Obviously I'm planning on a lot more school to become a doctor, would it be a similar time frame to become an architect at this point? Is the life of an architect very "family-friendly"? And are there possibilities for successful, profitable jobs in Architecture in somewhat rural areas, or is the job market fairly localized to larger cities?
I'd appreciate any advice or insights you have. Thanks for your time and help.
Given that you are about to graduate with a degree in biology, you would be eligible to apply to the Master of Architecture (3-4 years) available at a number of architecture programs. To research programs, visit -- www.naab.org or www.archschools.org --.
Once you complete your architecture degree, you would need to complete IDP - Intern Development Program -- www.ncarb.org. Afterwards, you would be eligible to take the ARE - Architect Registration Exam. The degree would be 3-4 years, completing IDP would be from 3-5 years and completing the ARE could be from 1-3 years. I am not sure how that compares to becoming a doctor.
On the surface, you may hear that the life of an architect is not family-friendly, but it is up to you and standing tall to your values. On average, you will certainly work more than 40 hours, but it is not essential.
As for where to practice, it is true that there are more opportunities in urban areas, but you can make it work in more rural areas.
For more details, obtain Becoming an Architect, 2nd edition.