Monday, January 14, 2013

Career forks in the road: Should I get or finish my architecture degree?

Another question of which I've seen various forms is the "should I get my architecture degree, even though I'm almost licensed/almost 40/not sure I'll have a job/might have to move/etc.?" It's a good question, and seemingly a tough one to answer on the heels of a bad economy. A recent article on Yahoo opines that architecture isn't a good degree to have on the basis that it's hard to parlay that degree into something else if you get out of school and can't find a job. Instead, Yahoo recommends that you get a degree in business administration instead.

Well, yeah, if you want to do business.  Or if you're not really picky about whatever the hell you do after college, then sure, get a nice general business degree.  But if you want to be an architect, I'm sorry, Yahoo, but you're going to have to have a fucking architecture degree because no firm will fucking hire you without one.

Articles like the Yahoo one infuriate me.  These articles make it sound like a) today's young people are only after the almighty dollar, b) that jobs and expertise are interchangeable, and c) that no one actually has any passion or drive to do something useful and creative (see "a"). These "what should I do with my life" articles are misleading in that they don't account for someone who might heaven forbid actually know that they want to do for a living, and they want to be an architect. Furthermore, this article is written for people who, if they got into architecture, I would want them out of my profession as soon as possible, because if they're trying to just use a degree to do something like, totally epically awesome without even actually working in the field--or any field--are people who have no concept of what it takes to do something worthwhile: design and build a building, teach people, create a software program, and so forth.  Mary, Joseph, and Renzo Piano willing, those sorts of people will have been rooted out during undergrad in a flurry of tears during a brutal midterm jury.

So then what? What of the rest of you who still wonder about whether to pursue or complete a degree? At this point, it's about the research.  If you're about to be licensed without having a B. Arch or M.Arch, have you talked with NCARB about getting your NCARB record and possible reciprocity after you get licensed? If you're wondering about finishing your degree or even getting a degree in the first place, do you really really want to be an architect, or do you just feel like you have to finish what you start?  Have you met and talked to any practicing architects to see what their job is like and ask what they think the economy might do in the next year or so? Talking to people out in the profession right now will give you a good sense of where the profession is now and will be going in the short term, which might help you make the decision.

Ultimately, this is yet another question you'll have to answer for yourself: Do you want to be an architect? If the answer is no, then move along--again, no harm in admitting so and moving on.  But if the answer is yes, then do a little digging to see what you need to do to make it happen.  It's only too late if you don't start now, where you are.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. I'm a recent graduate from architecture school. I'm figuring out where I want to become an architect or not. I'm finding it challenging to land that job to get me on that track to becoming one. Good advice. It has me thinking..