What’s It Like to Be an Architect?

But What’s It Really Like to Be an Architect?

Let’s hear it from the source.

Architecture is very much a team sport.

You’ll Have Lots of Opportunities

Architects have lots of opportunities to work with a broad range of people, in various employment situations, in virtually every part of the world. Look around you…almost every structure you see has involved an architect, particularly in developed countries. Some architects specialize in residential work, others in commercial or recreational facilities, others in historic preservation. Some work for the public sector, others in world-renowned architectural firms, others in smaller shops, or independently.

You’ll Make Good Money

Architects usually make a good salary. According to the Labor Department, the median annual wage for architects was $78,470 in May 2017. But that’s just the average. Pay will vary by where you work and what kind of firm or organization you choose to work in.

Quick Facts: Architects

2019 Median Pay
$80,750 per year
$38.83 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education
Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
On-the-job Training
Number of Jobs, 2018
Job Outlook, 2018-28
(faster than average)
Source: US Department of Labor and Statistics

You’ll Be Combining Creative Problem-Solving, Design, and Technical Drafting

All those things you learned in school, you’ll be putting to work…every day.

You’ll Choose Your Path—Large Firm, Small Firm

It’s up to you. Work in a big firm, and have a greater range of projects, have a chance to work on various phases of a project, have access to experts of various types. Opt for a smaller firm, you may have more independence, and be responsible for an entire project, see it through from concept to completion.

You’ll Become a “Workaround” Expert

This is the real world here, and there are many constraints on what you design. Besides client preferences, there are budget, schedule, gravity, height restrictions, and building code considerations. Part of being a successful architect is designing a structure in a way that resolves them all. Time management is a key part of the picture, because you may be working on several projects at once, with all the required meetings and deadlines.

You’ll Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate

Get ready to work with others—other architects, engineers, designers, landscapers, tech people, and more. You’ll need to know how to speak their language. Architecture is very much a team sport, and you may frequently find yourself around a big conference table with two dozen others, all of different disciplines, all trying to find a solution to a problem and make the building come together.

You’ll Get to See Your Designs Actually Built

Whether you’re involved from the first sketch all the way to construction, or handle one aspect of the project, eventually you’ll see it built and see your ideas take shape—well, that’s just the best.


Some firms are very conscious about helping employees maintain a healthy life/work balance. Ask if the firm has flex hours. Often, putting the demand out there can influence the firm’s work policies.
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