Friday, March 26, 2010

IDP at mid- or large-sized firm

I am currently finishing up my fourth year at a BArch program. I have held one internship at a mid-sized firm about a year ago, but I have not had any other relevant jobs/internships since then. I have finally decided to bounce back and apply for jobs again. Only this time I have some work experience on my resume, and I am specifically looking to start my IDP training.

Since I have only had one experience with one mid-sized firm, I am at a loss as to which firms to apply to. Should I stick with mid-sized or should I go for some of the bigger firms?
I'm looking to start my IDP training in a long-term position that will hopefully lead to full-time employment upon graduation. After getting laid-off at the previous mid-sized firm, I'm not so secure about working at the smaller firms; however how do the different sized firms compare in terms of IDP training?

Also, I know a good amount of people who have previously worked at a specific large firm; although that's good for getting referrals, it makes me wonder if the large firms are just one of those places where you work for a couple of years just to get the experience (and maybe the name) on your resume?

Given the current economy, I would not worry so much about the size of the firm, but rather on landing a position.

You may also wish to focus your energies on those firms that provide excellent opportunities for staff as it relates to IDP. See the link below for a list of firms that have been awarded for their work related to IDP.

Dr. Architecture

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mechanical Engineer to Architect

I have a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and will sit for the PE examination in April. I am also a naval officer, currently working in academia, though I am nearing the end of my obligated service and thus am considering a significant career change.

I have long been interested in architecture, though the Navy has little need for their officers to have such an education, thus I have not had the opportunity to pursue this interest in any meaningful way.

To the point, do architecture firms hire engineers in any significant numbers? Or, should I take this G.I. bill and go back to architecture school?

Thanks for your time.

I would say that architecture firms do hire engineers but not necessarily in significant numbers. As you will learn, most architecture firms are relatively small and probably simply consult with engineers instead of having them on staff. Those firms that do have engineers on staff will be much larger, perhaps above a staff of 100 or so. You may also wish to inquire with engineering firms that have architects on their staff.

Regardless, the true question is if you wish to become an architect or not? With your degrees, you are eligible to pursue the professional Master of Architecture (3-4 years) designed for those that have an undergraduate degree in another discipline.


Dr. Architecture

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Business to Architecture

First, thank you for taking the time to answer my question. Before I ask, here is my background: I recently graduated from a university with a major in finance and international business. Then after I graduated, I realized I hated the work I did, and the industry. I always wanted to be an architect since I was little (creative, love art, love Lego's, understand that architecture is a lot of hours and small technical details), and foolishly, I majored in business because of the money. Now I realize that happiness and enjoyment in my profession is much more important than making an extra bit of money.

My question is that I want to pursue an M.Arch I program, but is that possible with my background (or lack thereof)? I know that M.Arch I is for people who didn't major in architecture, but unfortunately I have no art classes, physics, or college calculus courses under my belt. I am fully willing to take time off to take the necessary courses and work on a portfolio, but would you recommend this path for me? How much would my lack of architectural background affect my acceptance to a good graduate program, or my chances at getting a good internship and job? Granted I do good on my GRE's and maintain good grades, is architecture something I can succeed in starting from the M.Arch I program?

Thank you for your time and help. My heart is set on pursuing an M.Arch I, but my brain still has a lot of worries over this. Also, I am thinking about Columbia or Parsons as two potential candidates. I know I am aiming high at this point, but I was wondering how selective each school is?

First, I suggest you review the ARCHCareers blog for answers to questions that may be parallel to yours --

You may certainly pursue the Master of Architecture (3-4 years) as it is designed for individuals like you that have an undergraduate degree in a discipline other than architecture. However, as you recognize you will need first focus on meeting prerequisites like calculus, physics, and freehand drawing (art) courses.

Once you have completed the prerequisites and courses to prepare a portfolio for graduate admission, you would be equal to many other applicants with no architecture background. Most of these programs do not expect any architectural background, rather they are seeking well qualified candidates as determined by academic performance, creativity, and commitment.

One great way to learn more on the process is to contact the schools you are interested in applying as you mention. Even now, visit to discuss their admission process and what you can do to improve your application from their perspective.

Dr. Architecture

Monday, March 22, 2010

Seeking Employment Prior to MArch

I stumbled upon your blog, and subsequently purchased the 2nd edition of Becoming an Architect, which I've found to be very helpful. I graduated with a BA in English in 2007, and I’m hoping to go back to school to earn a MArch starting in summer 2011. The upcoming year will give me ample time to research schools, take the GRE, prepare a portfolio, and submit applications, but I’m also looking for a job. I’m currently filling a full time interim position through the end of July, but I have no interest in becoming a permanent hire. Assuming I get accepted to a MArch program, I would be facing about 10 months of “down time” between the end of my current position and the start of school in the summer. I’m wondering if there’s any chance of finding immediate employment in an architecture-related field (not as an architect, of course, but something that would allow me to network and learn more about the field). Do you think there's any chance of this happening? Is it even worth the effort?

Thanks in advance for your help!


As you must know, the economy has hit the architecture profession very hard. Because of this, many firm are not currently hiring; however, if your desire is to network and learn more about the field, there are ways to do this without seeking employment. Of course, you can certainly attempt to gain a position.

To network, visit architecture lectures at area architecture schools or other cultural institutions. Even consider joining the AIA (American Institute of Architects) to start networking and learning the profession. To learn more, read the literature, consider attending a summer program, and possibly take a course as a non-degree student.

I hope this is helpful. Thanks!

Dr. Architecture

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Career Research

I am doing a career research in architecture. I was just wondering what are the normal working hours, what is the work environment like, is there travel, a high stress level? What types of diversity exists, like populations, gender, ethnicity, class? Also what types of promotion opportunities are available? And lastly, are there job opportunities in this field increasing or decreasing, how is the supply and demand of applicants?


First, congrats on your choosing to do your career research on Architecture. As you do your research, you will find Architecture to be a rewarding and challenging career.

To best address your questions, I am attaching a few resources for you to review --

Occupational Outlook Handbook

Becoming an Architect

To the extent possible, you should try to contact an architect in your hometown to ask the same questions.

Best to you as your complete your research.

Dr. Architecture

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Becoming an Architect with Foreign Education

Hello Dr. Architecture, I would like to get more information on the steps needed to be taken to work in the U.S. [my husband is an Architect who studied abroad (University of Buenos Aires - Argentina)]. He has extensive experience in the field and would like to know what information he needs to provide to revalidate his Architecture degree. Thank you.

First, your best source to learn the requirements of becoming an architect in the U.S. is NCARB - National Council of Architectural Registration Boards ( They have links to the state registration boards as an individual must ultimately be licensed by U.S. jurisdiction.

They do have a program, Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) that is a multi-step process to assist foreign architects with experience to become licensed.

Also, individuals may have to have their foreign education evaluated by EESA - Education Evaluation Services for Architects as part of the process.

Dr. Architecture

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Choosing a School - BArch vs. MArch

My son is a senior in high school and aspires to become an architect. He has been offered admission to both Philadelphia University and Roger Williams University.

My question is to what extent does it matter if a person applies for a job and has a M. Arch (RWU) or a 5 year B. Arch (PU)?

Also, both of these schools will be up for NAAB accreditation in 2012. Is this an issue we should be mindful of?

Thank you in advance.

Congratulations to your son for admission to Philadelphia University and Roger Williams University.

For the most part, employers will probably not truly care the name of the degree (BArch) or (MArch) when your son is seeking employment in the field except in a few cases. For example, if an employer has a MArch, they be more inclined to hire a candidate with a MArch; the same may true for someone with a BArch. Of course, the MArch route may create more options as it allows departure after the undergraduate degree and attend a different graduate program and having a MArch may allow for future teaching opportunities.

I would suggest that you son determine what the most important criteria are when making his college choice and compare each of the institutions against those criteria to make a final decision. If curriculum or degree title is one of the criteria, he can make his decision accordingly, but I would NOT worry too much about what a potential employer will think.

The book, Becoming an Architect, 2nd Edition, has a tremendous section on "Selecting a School."

As for NAAB and accreditation, you should be mindful because it helps you better understand what you are learning to become an architect but not because they will lose their accreditation. Review the NAAB 2009 Condition ( You may even inquire from each school the results of the last accreditation visit, but there should be no worry about each school receiving an extension of their accreditation status. Regardless of institution, your son should become involved in the visit in 2012.

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bachelor Prospect

I will be going back to school in the fall for a career change, I am considering this as my field right now though all I want to go for is my Bachelors. How far can I get with that?

First, I suggest you fully review the website as it fully outlines the process of becoming an architect. As well, you may wish to obtain Becoming an Architect, 2nd Edition available from

Also, please visit for additional information.

To meet the educational standard for becoming an architect, you must obtain a professional NAAB accredited degree; this includes either the Bacheor of Architecture (5 years), Master of Architecture (2 years with a pre-professional degree), Master of Architecture (3-4 years with a degree in another discipline), and the Doctor of Architecture.

So, we you say, "go for your Bachelors," I am not sure if you mean four-year undergraduate degree or the five-year Bachelor of Architecture. As you can see from above, if you already have an undergraduate degree, you can pursue the Master of Architecture (3-4 years). If you mean, Bachelor of Architecture, you can pursue licensure and become a full-fledged architect.

I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me again if you have questions.

Dr. Architecture

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Foreign Degree / EESA

I have a 4 year pre-professional degree from Washington U /St Louis (2008). After completion of this degree, I attended Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) in Finland where I received 48 credits in advanced study focusing on wood architecture and construction (60 credits are noted as one full time academic year on the transcript). I am currently doing further advanced studies at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture, noted as a Master’s program in Architecture, which is a two semester coursework. Upon completion, the graduate is awarded the Diploma on Architecture (cand.arch.). I have an interest to obtain a license to practice architecture in Alaska, which requires a NAAB accredited or otherwise deemed equivalent degree/education.

My million dollar question to you is: Do you think I have a chance going through the EESA process with a 4 year pre-professional degree in architecture + 2 years of advanced studies in architecture from two different universities in Scandinavia + no practical experience or should I reorganize and attend an accredited program in the U.S. to insure licensure track? I’m concerned that an EESA review might not be favorable without a solid foreign study program to back up the 4 year pre-professional degree.


Given that you are receiving a foreign degree, you should be set to meet the NCARB Education Standard ( via the EESA process. With that said, candidates typically fall short through the evaluation process but can take additional courses to meet the deficiency. For example, many do not have professional practice.

I would suggest you call EESA (NAAB) for further insight. It will also help that you have the undergraduate degree via Washington Univ.

If you have a professional degree in architecture from a country other than the United States or Canada and your degree meets the requirements for licensure in that country, you must have your education evaluated through the Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA).

Dr. Architecture