Sunday, June 29, 2014

Too late!

It's not uncommon for people to make career changes late in life, but pursuing a career in architecture at my advanced age might not be practical. I'm 53. I've spent my career as a graphic designer and advertising copywriter, but I desperately need a change and architecture has always interested me.

Am I crazy? What sort of realistic time frame am I looking at? Are there lower level positions, such as draftsman, that I could get into more quickly and begin earning a living in the field? Any advice and/or additional references would be appreciated.


First, as one who helps students/individuals pursue their "dreams," I say it is never too late.  With that said, pursuing the path to become an architect is a long road.

Assuming you already had a college degree, albeit it in another discipline, the Master of Architecture will be 3-4 years. Afterwards, you must complete IDP - Intern Development Program, the experience portion of becoming an architect that requires 5600 hours working under the supervision of an architect; on average, graduates take between 3-5 years to complete.  Once you have education and experience are able to take the ARE Architect Registration Exam; again it takes on average between 1-3 years to take and pass the 7-part exam.

Thus, it could take from 7 - 10 years before you are a licensed exam.  You might say that becoming an architect in 10 years is too old, but do know that Philip Johnson, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century became an architect at 39 years old and practiced until his death at 93 years old.

As you suggest, there may be many employment opportunities within the building industry that you could do sooner and be satisfying.  In fact, many larger firms may have graphic designers on staff.  

You must also look at why you need a change.

As for references, visit and obtain a copy of Becoming an Architect, 3rd Ed.


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