Sunday, March 31, 2013

Interviewing Tips

I have an interview with a firm about a job opportunity. I was wondering if you had any advice or tips on what to expect. I have had a couple interviews with firms in the past but never successfully landed the job so any advice would be appreciated!

The true trick is to be prepared.  Prepare a set of questions that you think they will ask and draft responses – not that you will simply repeat what you wrote but will practice the answers.  Have a set of questions for them as well.

At the end of the interview, punch it – in other words, reiterate why you are qualified for the position and ask what the next step is – when should expect to hear from them.  After, write a notecard of thanks!

There are plenty of websites on interviewing to learn possible questions that may be asked of you and ones you can ask the firm.  Below is just one.

Be confident and remember that it is not always the best candidate that gets the position, but rather than one who knows how to job search the best.

Good luck.

Education Paths

Sir, i am eagerly waiting for your reply to come. hope you can take out sometime to answer them.

1.) Doing architecture in USA from top universities would be too costly so i am left with two option either i do only B.arch  from a middle level university in U.S and then work as an architect or doing B.arch from India and then M.arch from a little higher level university in U.S  because the cost reduces as years reduce. Also i read somewhere that b.arch and m.arch from  us is almost considered equal. I would like to ask you according to you which one is better doing it from India and then coming to USA and putting my 3 years extra in masters or rather doing it from us directly and putting those 3 years into my experience.

2.) Sir i am really sorry but reading your article has put me into a new 
dilemma if i decide to come to us for my b.arch what if somehow my mind shifts because i really cant let this happen. My parents wanted me to pursue engineering but i wanted to pursue this. So i told them they are totally okay with it but still i have no chance of regretting after i come into this career That is why i have no chance of reverting back from this career.
I wanted your opinion regarding these issues and if any help you can provide me it would be highly grateful .

thank you 


First, your decision on where to attend should take into account many different factors -- some as you suggest - cost, location (U.S. or India) and some you do not mention - reputation, faculty, courses, etc.

Ultimately, you must decide what you see as your career path and decide accordingly.

Do note that there are two different accredited professional degrees in the U.S. - 1) Bachelor of Architecture - typically fives years of study and 2) Master of Architecture - typically 2-3 years of study based on the undergraduate degree of the individual.

Also, there is a Master of Science in Architecture for those with a professional degree (or foreign equivalent) that typically is 1 - 1 1/2 years.

Thus - you could do any of the following: 

1) Come directly to the U.S. and pursue the 5-year BArch
2) Complete the BArch in India and come to the U.S. for either the MArch or the MS.  You would pursue the MArch is you wish to become licensed in the U.S. or the MS if you wish to continue your studies on a focused area of the discipline.
3) Pursue engineering in U.S. or India and complete MArch

As you can see, there are options.  You will need to research them all and decide which is the best based on your criteria.


Best Course?

Which is the best course in arcitecture and duration?

Thanks for your question, but can you provide more details?  Do you mean which course within a curriculum is best or which architecture program is best?

If it is the latter, I am not in a position to state which is the best program.  There are many factors that you must consider in determining which is the best for you.


Becoming an Architect - Best Path

Thank you for taking some time to read this, I hope you can help me out.  My first passion when I left High school was to become an architect but I haven’t picked up any artistic talents for a while(was my strong point in HS).   I wasn’t that great in the maths or in the science side of things.  However I was persuaded to not go into the field because in Bermuda (where I live) there seemed to be a glut of architects and well frankly at the time it was felt that pay wasn’t that great.    I was also a son of an immigrant, money was tight, and I felt I should pursue another avenue.  I got into IT eventually and well  stuck with it for 15 or so years with the same company. 

I only have an associate’s degree in Arts(2 year degree equivalent) and it’s so old I’d very likely need to start from scratch.  

Is there a path where I can formally validate my present career(it’d be easier since I’ve been in it for a while and I’d probably prefer the business side of things) while at the same time providing a bridge to architecture to save on time?
I’ve toyed around with the idea of getting a bachelor’s of arts in IT (strong focus on the arts, possibly with the option of eventually picking up a second major) then getting a master’s in architecture.

I’m wondering which masters in architecture degree offered at a university would provide less years of completion based on bachelor’s degree relevance? 

The college I went to is local in Bermuda but it has just recently received it’s New England accreditation.  Ideally though I’d like to go more in the southern states.  Another option also is to go to Britain.  What are your thoughts?


First, I must share that my expertise is in becoming an architect in the U.S. and not Bermuda.  With that said, the only path would be to complete an undergraduate degree in any discipline allowing you to pursue the Master of Architecture degree at an U.S. architecture program.  The degree would take you between 3-4 years depending on the one you attend.

If you could transfer to an undergraduate degree in architecture, you could pursue the MArch which can be done in two years but transferring will depend on your coursework to date.

For a list of accredited programs - visit --

Now, given you current background, it may be that you could pursue employment within the architecture profession, but you would not be an architect.

I wish you the best.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Salary - Compensation Package

I have recently had a job interview for a large practice in Washington DC. Coming from the UK I can generally work out the average salary and what to expect from firms here, however I am unsure of what a company in the US might be able to offer me.

I am trying to gain a bit more of an understanding in terms of the average salary of an architect, what kind of package in terms of healthcare I could be expecting and if it is unreasonable to as for a relocation package being that it is the private sector?

Any help you can give is much appreciated.


Thanks for your inquiry, but my expertise does not cover salary or compensation packages.

Another source is to contact the local chapter of the professional association - AIA -

As for other aspects of an offer - health insurance, relocation package, etc., there is not a great deal of data available, but I truly believe that all is negotiable.  However, you would not wish to bring this up until an offer is imminent.

I hope this helps.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Architectural Education

I just came across your blog ( It was pleasure reading it.
I am from india. I am a 12th grader . I always wanted to pursue my career as architecture. I am very much fascinated by buildings and have a creative mind. I am good science student who has a very good hand on art.

and I have always wanted to work in US.

Where should I get the degree from?
I thought to do b.arch form india and then masters in us. but then got confused; will doing only b.arch from use work equally. Because what matters is experience in this career.
And seeing the unemployment rate I got sacred as well ?

Can i have your views degrading this? 
And i did not know how to send you my query so preferred emailing you .
Hope you consider my sentiments.
Thank you


Congrats on your desire to pursue architecture.  

Where you attend school will depend on many factors including where you wish to practice/work after your studies.  As you state, you could attend a program first in India and pursue the Master of Architecture in the U.S.  Or, you could come directly to a program in the U.S.

Review the following websites to gain insight on programs --

As for your fear on the discipline, I suggest you review the article I wrote on the topic last spring.  While it is true that the profession was hit hard by the economy, the skills developed in an architectural are great preparation for a number of career fields.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Career Change - Business to Architecture

I am looking to make a career change as I'm not satisfied with the past positions I've had as an executive assistant and customer service positions. I graduated four years ago with a degree in Business, Marketing emphasis, however, marketing, isn't the field I want to pursue. The more I think about it, the more I would like to go into drafting & design or architecture. My favorite part of my last job was space planning in AutoCAD for commerical office space. The main focus was laying out furniture and cubicles and removable walls, with some time spent removing/adding hard wall, electrical, plumbing, mechanical systems while maintaining the structural integrity.
I've been looking at drafting and design programs vs. architecture programs and don't know which might be best for me. Ideally, I'd like to go further into space planning, restaurant and store design and don't know if a full architecture program would be necessary.
Do you think I could find the opportunities desired by getting a second degree in drafting and design and not becoming a licensed architect? Could I still work as a drafter at an architecture firm without being licensed?
I do have some money in savings so I'm not terribly worried about the financial aspect because I do have a part time job as well, but I don't want to use up all that I have if I can help it.

From what you have shared, I do not think you would be content with just a drafting and design program because you will be implementing the ideas of others and not your own.  Thus, I would suggest you pursue an NAAB accredited Master of Architecture degree.

With that said, you may wish to pursue drafting and design courses to develop an entry level set of skills to make the transition to architecture or related field - interior design.

You could certainly work within an architecture without being licensed, but you will not be satisfied in the long term.  Start by contacting the programs in your region (  Visit the program to explore the process.

Also, consider obtaining the book, Becoming an Architect, 2nd ed.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Admission Decisions: Where to Go?

My daughter is keen on studying architecture in the US. She has just completed her IB diploma and is an international student.

At present she has secured admission into 3 universities
  • Iowa State University for Barch. She has been awarded a $ 7,000 scholarship as an international ambassador for 3 years.
  • University of Cincinnati for Bsc in Architecture with a scholarship of $ 5,000 for 3 years. University of Cincinnati offers the co-op program.
  • Penn state for Landscape architecture
She is keen on architecture and so our options are limited to the first 2. Since she is an international student with an F1 visa, the ultimate objective is for her to chose a school and a course which provides her the best options for employment when she completes her course. I've read that Iowa State Barch degree is NAAB accredited and this is a big plus point. But I've also heard that the co-op program in Cincinnati is very highly rated and employers rate the students from cincinnati very highly.

My instinct and logic tells me to focus on getting an NAAB accredited degree first and then look for employment thereafter. But I need your advise as the information on the net is getting me confused.

Finally she has also applied to Virginia Tech and has yet to hear from them. if she gets into Virginia tech should she chose this over the other 2?

Look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks and kind regards

In this role, I am not in a position to tell you which program is best for your daughter.  However, what I can share is to discuss with her the criteria by which she will make the decision.  In my book, Becoming an Architect, I discuss three categories - You, Institution, and Academic Unit.  Within each, there are criteria to determine which are most important.

Below, you outlined a factor of employment and NAAB accreditation.  You and your daughter need to discuss these criteria to determine what program is best for you.

What is critical is comparing each program against the criteria that you determine are most important.  By doing so, it will become clear which is the program to attend.

I do hope this helps.  Also, feel free to contact each of the programs and ask for either students or alumni that you could connect with to learn firsthand about the program.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Career Change - Online Education?

I am interested in pursuing a second career in architecture. I already have a BA in Art Studio from Davidson College and an MBA in Information Systems from City University in Seattle, WA. After 26 years working (somewhat by accident, actually) in information systems, I've realized I really am not happy at what I've been doing. 

I've been doing some career exploration and began taking several architectural design and graphics classes at our local community college. Finances are a bit tight so I need to keep my current position or I need to be working while attending school (as I am currently doing). Moving is out of the question at the moment as well with my family situation and current mortgage. 

Are there any online programs that are accredited? I'm 47 years old so time is of the essence to complete an accredited degree and work toward licensing. What do you recommend?

First, you may wish to search previous questions I have answered on the ARCHCareers blog - -.

From a strict practical standpoint, you are eligible to apply to a Master of Architecture (3-4 years) given your previous education; but as you are in Seattle, UW would be your only choice for the professional accredited degree.  

Given the nature of an architectural education, there are limited choices for online education - Boston Architectural College, Lawrence Technological University and Academy of Art University.

Perhaps, you can start by simply taking a class or two at UW to confirm your interest in architecture.  Also, have you thought about applying your current skill set to the architecture profession.  You could do what you are doing but within a larger architecture firm or the Department of Architecture at UW.  There are a lot of cool things happening within the profession.

In this case, you are NOT an architect, but you would not need to return to school.  Contact the local chapter of AIA - American Institute of Architects and the Department for ideas.

Go to a lecture at UW to connect with architects and the profession.  

Best!  Read books, blogs, and websites -- search Google for keywords that make sense for you.

IDP Six Month Rule

I have been gaining work experience in a architectural firm for close to nine years in lieu of a degree and I would like to start pursuing my license. I read through NCARB that a six month only window is allowed.

1) Is it still possible for me to back track my time acquired at this point through IDP if I never started recording my progress through there online system? 

2) Will all my work experience prior to six months ago be considered void under there current guidelines?

3) And if so, what should I do to become qualified for the examination process at this point in my career?

Thank you for reading! And I look forward to your suggestions on my next possible steps regarding my future.

Given that you questions are related to IDP, a program of NCARB, you would be best served to contact them directly (customer or your state IDP Coordinator (see below).

As I understand IDP, you will NOT be able to back your experience, but confirm with NCARB directly.  And yes, any work prior to six months from when you enroll with a NCARB Council Record will not be counted towards IDP.

As for what you should do, I am not sure because you do not share your educational background, etc.  You may wish to contact again the state IDP Coordinator or your state's department of professional regulation.

IDP - 

Reporting Requirements

Interns must submit all experience including supplemental experience in reporting periods of no longer than six months and within two months of completion of each reporting period.
State IDP Coordinators

Registration Boards