Like with most careers out there, the role of the architect is shrouded in stereotypes and assumptions. Sure, some of them are based in truth, but there’s so much more to the job than what initially meets the eye – often with each project having unique duties of its own.
While it may be one of the few jobs out there that allows for both creative freedom and comfortable wages, it comes at the price of long hours and requires a person to be multifaceted in their talents – many of which may not pay as handsomely as you’d expect.
In short? If you venture down the road of building a name for yourself as an architect, you’ll be doing a whole lot more than just designing.
Read on for a glimpse into what it’s really like to be an architect.
Are You Good At Budgeting?
You could be one of the most talented building designers in the world, but if you don’t know how to work with a client’s budget, those skills are essentially useless. You’ll need to have a great grasp on what you can reasonably do with a set amount of funds all while simultaneously allowing enough wiggle room to handle any potential mishaps.
You’ll Need To Brush Up Your Communication Skills
Once you’ve struck the right balance with your budget, you’ll have to communicate clearly with your client to avoid any misunderstandings – even when the news might not be what they were hoping for. It’s up to you to manage the expectations of your client in the beginning to avoid potential disappointments on their end, and in return, dings to your reputation.
It’s important that you’re comfortable taking an authoritative stance and being firm, especially when your clients counter your budget with suggestions of the “robbing peter to pay paul” variety that could end up taking away from the integrity of your design.
It’s More Than Just Aesthetics
Striking the right balance between aesthetics and safety is no easy feat. Architects have to combine their creativity with a vast amount of ingenuity to meet the needs on both ends of the spectrum. This involves staying up to date with building codes on both the state and local levels and of course, a healthy dose of common sense.
As society continues to move towards becoming more environmentally conscious, the considerations to be had evolve and expand a little more each year.
Architects take all of the following and more into consideration:
- The sustainability of building materials
- Building insulation and overall efficiency
- How weather patterns will affect building longevity
- The impact of building materials on health
- Zoning laws
- Building accessibility
- How the design fits into the surrounding landscape
Permits and Paperwork
The amount of time that you’ll spend with your eyes glazed over paperwork might just be enough to take you out of the running. Being an architect requires an extreme level of patience and a willingness to cast your frustrations aside while you smile your way through all sorts of bureaucratic “red tape”.
This isn’t just a problem plaguing those working in larger cities, either. In smaller, less populated areas the process can sometimes move along even more slowly due to a lower amount of city employees on staff to handle things like building permits.
As an architect, the “middle man” is just one of the many hats you’ll have to learn to wear while you manage client expectations around project completion times.
What It Takes To Get There
You might be surprised by the amount of time it takes to become an architect. There are quite a few hoops in the form of educational requirements and licensing procedures that need to be jumped through before they’re given the chance to put their skills to the test on their own.
Of course, all of this is necessary given the gravity of damage that could occur from unsafe design and not following best practices.
Here’s a bit of what goes into the process:
- A Bachelor of Architecture Degree (typically takes 5 years) or M.Arch.
- Completing a 3-year long internship at a reputable firm
- Passing the NCARB’s Architect Registration Examination for licensure
After all is said and done, the amount of compensation still varies quite a bit based on the specialty – some of which require even further schooling.
On average, Landscape architects make around $60,000 per year once their careers are established. Building architects, which is what most people envision when they hear the word, average around $79,000 per year.
Even most professors average around $100,000 per year with a Ph.D.
However, it goes without saying that those who really make a name for themselves can without a doubt increase their earning potential.
When It’s All Said And Done
Working as an architect is both a rewarding and necessary career, even if it’s not exactly as glamorous as the stereotype might imply. Without the hard work, energy and effort that they’ve put into refining their craft, our world as we know it would cease to exist.
The next time you find yourself admiring a beautiful building, or enjoying the safety and comfort of your home, make a mental note and take a minute to thank an architect!