Sunday, April 28, 2013

Paralegal to Architect

I am a paralegal with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
I’m looking at changing my career to becoming an architect, but I’m looking for some guidance and help.
Can you help me out?
Thank you so much and I truly appreciate any help that you can give me!

I may certainly help out, but what specifically are seeking guidance on.

Do you have a college degree?  If so, you can begin a Master of Architecture degree (3+ years) at any one of a number of schools (  As you are in Washington, DC, you may wish to visit either the University of Maryland or Catholic University.

If not, consider starting at Montgomery College as they have an associate's degree.

You may also wish to visit the National Building Museum for inspiration, a museum to celebrate the building arts.

Obtain Becoming an Architect, 2nd ed. to learn how to become an architect.

Best!  Be in touch with additional questions.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Architecture - Projections

Hello, I'm currently am a high school sophomore at Kennewick High and believe architecture is for me. However, I have done some research online and have come to the conclusion that architecture jobs will increase by about 20% by 2020? Is this true? What are the steps I need to take in order to follow my career in architecture? My school offers the International Baccalaureate program and I plan to receive a full diploma, if not certificate, do you think this will help me for the university or career path?

You are correct!  The BLS projects a 24% growth in the profession between now and 2020.

  • Employment of architects is projected to grow 24 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Current demographic trends will result in a greater need for architects. Those who distinguish themselves with their creativity should have the best job opportunities.

Now, as a sophomore in high school, there are many things you can do to launch your career into architecture.  First, is to simply open your eyes and look at the built environment.  Pay attention to buildings in your neighborhood - the form, shape, dimensions, materials, etc.

Start to draw and take art/drawing courses in high school - do not worry about CAD; that can come later.

Another option to explore is attending a high school summer program offered by an architecture program.  You might consider this coming summer, but definitely the summer after your junior year.  Attached is a list of programs.

Also, through your parents, contact and interview an architect.  Ask if you can shadow for the day to learn what an architect does.  Read architecture books or visit architecture websites to learn more.

Finally, do well in school as architecture is a demanding major is school.  Pursue a college prep schedule.



Below is the beginning part of an article recently posted on the AIA website concerning the 2012 AIA / NCARB website; it truly has great insight on the picture of current emerging professionals.
If you are on the path to becoming an architect, consider reading --

AIA/NCARB Survey Shows Rosier Picture for Emerging Professionals
More interns are employed and getting licensed than during the throes of the recession
By Jennifer Riskus
In 2010, the AIA/NCARB Internship and Career Survey of emerging professionals took a snapshot of young designers during a time of intense economic contraction, when they were often the first to suffer. But in the two years since, emerging professionals have begun experiencing a rebound, with higher employment levels, more young designers getting licensed, and any remaining unemployment becoming, in most cases, mercifully short.
The 2012 Internship and Career Survey, commissioned jointly by the AIA and NCARB, and conducted by The Rickinson Group, contains a wealth of information on the experiences of emerging professionals as they go through IDP, take the ARE, become licensed, and obtain their first jobs. This survey has been completed five times since 2003, most recently inthe fourth quarter of 2012.

Syracuse U or Ball State U

I am hoping you can provide some guidance to my daughter.  She is considering two very different schools and programs.  The largest difference is cost.  One, our state school, Ball State is a 4&2 program with the Master's program accredited.  The second is Syracuse, a 5 year B Arch program.  She feels like she fits in better at Syracuse, but the cost is 5x what the cost is for Ball State.  Knowing she wishes to eventually work and live on the East coast, she feels she stands a better chance of interning and working on the East coast if she attends school there.
As a parent, the cost difference is huge.  Knowing she will have significant debt following school at Syracuse, and virtually none at Ball State I am having a difficult time endorsing school out east.
It is our understanding a B Arch is equivalent to an M Arch in most circumstances.  Or are we in error, is the M Arch more financially rewarding?
Any advice would be appreciated.


First, congrats on your daughter being admitted to Ball State and Syracuse University; that is truly great news and you should be proud.

Next, let me explain the differences in degrees -- both the five year Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) and 4+2 Master of Architecture (MArch) are equivalent in one sense as they are both first professional degrees accredited by NAAB ( However, as you might imagine, the two degrees are quite different in how they teach architecture.

NAAB dictates the "what" is to be taught in architecture degress, but not the "how."  This is why it is extremely difficult to compare programs.

With that said, neither degree is necessarily better than the other - they are just different.  With my almost 20 years of experience, I would suggest you discuss which is a better fit for your daughter.  The BArch is best suited for individuals who have a STRONG desire to pursue architecture as you pursue studio immediately.  The 4+2 MArch is better for choice and option as you typically do not start studio until sophomore or junior year allowing you to pursue more liberal arts courses.  Plus, many graduates at the undergraduate level may pursue a different institution for the +2 or pursue another discipline.

She is probably right in that SU will have a better reputation for positions on the East Coast, but to what end - large debt.

May I offer the following --

1) As I shared, the 4+2 allows choice - she could attend Ball State at the undergraduate level, do extremely well and pursue SU for their Master of Architecture.  In this way, you save monies but she still graduates from SU.

2) Depending on Ball State, she could attend a community college for a year while living at home to save monies but to allow her to apply to other four year programs; in the region (Michigan, MiamiU, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Illinois, Wisconsin-Milwaukee).  From each of these she could pursue SU or any other graduate program as her pursuits might change through her studies.

With the details you have shared, option 1 above is probably the best choice for both of you.  Option 2 is a viable option depending on what other programs you considered this past year.  Regardless, have a conversation with SU about her chances for admission at the graduate level coming from Ball State or other undergraduate programs.

If you wish to contact me and discuss, we can do this - do let me know the decision.