I am pleased that I came across your blog as I am interested in your opinion on the possibility of my making a career change at a rather late stage after moving away from an early career in architecture.
I am 54, admittedly a bit of a late-bloomer, do possess a background in architecture at the designer level, have an AAS in Architectural Design and Drafting as well as BSc in IT Management, am fairly adept at the creative/artistic side of architecture, do possess at least a nascent portfolio and am seriously considering a career change before I embark on graduate level IT management track. My current dilemma is that having attained the level of IT director within a multi-national A/E firm, and having worked within the A/E sector my entire career, I question the wisdom of shifting gears at this stage of the game.
I originally spent six years as an architectural draftsman/designer before making a decision to move to CAD/IT management. That decision was made, in part, on the idea that management of IT services within the A/E sector was going to be a progressive need, the salaries appeared to better and I had a natural desire to be in a management position. Since that point my career trajectory has been decidedly IT based as I moved from CAD management into progressive IT management and consultancy assignments. Although I have demonstrated a certain aptitude towards management of IT services within the A/E sector I am more of a hybrid IT generalist than an IT specialist and am finding it increasingly difficult to advance my career in an ever-changing IT world. That fact, coupled with the fact that my heart is just not in IT makes things a bit precarious.
I am sensitive that the idea that my age may preclude me from achieving an active career in architecture, or perhaps urban planning, yet my overall desire to make an impact on the landscape drives towards this career change idea. Having worked in a number of US cities, as well as a number of international locations, I am struck by what to me is an obvious need for a more cohesive approach to urban development with a strong tie to architecture. Given the aforementioned statements I wonder if a combo Master of Architecture/Urban Planning track such as the one offered at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee might be a viable option for me at this point in my career.
As my expertise is on Becoming an Architect, I would share the following:
If the factors in your current career are not what you want them to be, I would certainly have you consider pursuing architecture as a new career. While there is certainly age-discrimination, you would still be an asset to an employer given your previous employment. With your degree, a Master of Architecture would take 3-4 years.
As for the pursuit of a combined architecture/planning degree, I must defer to others as I am not as familiar with planning as a career. Have you discussed your thoughts with the academic staff at UWM? Visit the American Planning Association (APA - www.planning.org) for insight.
I firmly believe that one should pursue their passion and opportunities will become available. With that said, you know the particulars to your career/life to best make the decision to change.
A final resource is the book - What Color is Your Parachute by R. Bolles -http://www.jobhuntersbible.com