This article explores different career options related to architecture that an Architecture Degree opens up for confused architects who yearn for more than just drafting.
The process of architecture school is taxing. For a frustrated fresher in between the whelms of architectural practice with its comfortable yet mundane work, and passionate calling towards their pursuit of creativity, Architectural practice seems to be the only option.
Creativity isn’t restricted to a particular role and the same can be said for architecture. Architecture is a combination of design, art, presentation, communication, and more. There is a plethora of skills that one gets to learn in these overwhelming 5 years to an architecture degree.
These skills open up an array of career options for architects in fields related to journalism, photography, art, graphics, communications, heritage, graphics, urban development, law, project management, etc. And with the creativity that accumulates and grows in these architecture colleges, it won’t be a surprise if the pie is more thinly sliced in the near future.
The right decisions can be a highly useful investment for the professional life that awaits you. For a better overview, here are some career options that open up for anyone with an Architecture Degree, excluding architecture, of course.
1. Landscape Architect
Green open spaces provide recreational areas with a rejuvenating quality to any urban fabric, and its importance is increasing every day. Architects can establish a healthy social and sustainable equilibrium in any urban fabric using landscape architecture.
With a 6% job outlook in Landscape Architecture (2016-2026) this field offers an undeniable opportunity for success, with less competition among architects.
Arch in Landscape Architecture is a two-year postgraduate program after you get the architecture degree in B.Arch, focusing on the tools and methods used to plan the development of land and designing the outdoor environment, which can be pursued by giving relevant entrance tests, such as GATE, CEED, TANCET, AMU M. Arch. Entrance Exam, CEPT, etc. after B.Arch.
For the best updates on landscape projects, designs, competitions and practicing architects, the LA Journal, the leading magazine in Landscape Architecture is a must-read.
2. Urban Planner
An urban planner toggles with economic fluctuations, demographics and sustainability for the design and development of dynamic urban cities. The key qualities of any urban planner are problem-solving abilities and adaptability.
Masters in Urban Planning is a program offered at prestigious universities worldwide like MIT, Harvard Graduate School, etc. all designed to impart knowledge about urban issues and the ideal concepts for city planning keeping in mind the contemporary context.
The job scope for Urban Planning includes opportunities in the public sector, private sector, real estate, service firms, social agencies, non-profit housing groups, international consulting companies and more.
3. Research Architect
The technological and digital advancement has been a driving force in changing our methods of representation and expression. With new innovations in technology marching forward constantly, contemporary architecture has been remodeled to maximize user experience and the positive effect of a structure on its environment. These innovations are the result of immense research in architecture and an architecture degree does demand a lot of research throughout the course and thus you can choose to be a Research Architect.
Some of the top Firms leading in Research are,
- Perkins & Will
- Future +
- Kieran Timberlake
- Architecture Research Office
- LMN Architects
4. Extreme Architect
An extreme architect specializes in the architecture of extreme climatic conditions. With our climate changing at such a fast and unpredictable pace, the importance of this profession increases with time. This field finds adaptive design solutions for problems related to natural disasters such as periodic flooding or heatwaves and extreme climatic conditions such as deserts or cold areas.
Architects have even partnered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to design a modular structure for the lunar south pole.
Firms like M-Rad rely on social and environmental knowledge to create unique structures. Some of the extreme architecture designs listed on their web page include a structure made of 3-D printed materials and an amusement park powered by renewable energy.
5. Production Designer / Set Design
Set Designing allows a designer to create expressive, story-driven and evocative spatial designs. It has room for creativity, allowing to design boldly and out of the box. Architecture degree course prepares one for time pressures, conceptual environments and collaborative creativity apart from technical details and designing when it comes to Production Design. This field opens up the Theatre and film industry for architects.
One example is Tino Schaedler. Involved with blockbuster films such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, V for Vendetta, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Fantastic Voyage, Tino Schaedler took the hard decision of quitting architecture after completing his graduation from The University of Hanover in Germany, graduating with his Masters in 1999, and practicing for 3 years under starchitects like Daniel Libeskind and BarkowLeibinger while teaching Studio Digital Analog at the University of Arts in Berlin. Realizing his potential of broadening his design and representation skills, along with his understanding and sensitivity for other fields which was provided by his architectural education, he graduated with a diploma in 3D animation and visual effects in 2003 from the Art Institute of Vancouver, British Columbia.
6. Architectural Journalism
Architectural journalism is the written and digital documentation of architecture. It includes the exchange of design ideas, conveying the theory of a design and the conceptualization of any project from thought to completion.
Written communication stays on for an eternity, to be admired and criticized at any point of time. Buildings come with details that need to be described appropriately. Architectural journalism can help perceive the information, analysis, order, sequence, style, functional elements of a project, and much more.
To begin with, students can take up summer/ winter internships at one of the many web portals or publication magazines (like the work from home internship at Re-Thinking the future) to learn about and understand the profession early.
Architects can also apply for full-time jobs in any of the architectural magazines or portals, or pursue Masters in Journalism, Architectural Journalism or Literature.
7. Furniture Designer
Countless famous architects have made significant contributions to furniture design: Charles and Ray Eames, Alvar Aalto and Arne Jacobsen, among others. Contemporary architects such as Zaha Hadid Architects are following suit, proving that the two can even be done simultaneously.
An architect’s understanding of the history of art and architecture, artistic movements and design principles makes them stand out in the furniture/product design industry.
Master’s in Furniture Design provides a comprehensive technical background in woodworking, studio art, interior design, or drawing.
Furniture designers work for large companies like Ikea, or for small independent businesses. Most large companies require a Bachelor’s Degree. Some furniture designers work on a freelance basis creating furniture pieces on demand for customers.
For some inspiration, let’s not forget the modern architecture elements Ludwig Mies van der Rohe epitomized in furniture design by introducing his Barcelona Chair for The German Pavilion in 1929.
8. Graphic Designer
It is one of the most invaluable ways of communication in architecture. A graphic designer is crucial when it comes to an aesthetically pleasing and conceptually accurate graphic representation of any project or structure.
Architectural design exercises, the theory of design and software and presentation skills give an advantage to architects over ‘non-architect’ graphic designers.
Architects can choose from a number of graphic design fields like branding, web, posters, or graphic design for architecture firms.
AECOM, MAD, Eric Parry Architects, Atelier Brückner, FaulknerBrowns Architects are some of the firms that hire Graphic designers with Architectural background.
9. Architectural Photographer
The niche profession of Architecture photography has gained tremendous momentum in the last decade. Architectural photography focuses on the context along with the structure, including the surroundings, its relation with the users, and the details, to produce dynamic and captivating photos.
From documenting large scale projects in their making to capturing heritage structures and cultural urbanscapes around the world, the field of architectural photography can be very versatile.
Between colleges like CEPT providing summer/winter workshops, and numerous international online courses, pursuing architectural photography as a career option has never been more convenient.
Architectural Photography As a Career, posted by RTF sheds light on Architectural Photography as a profession.
A Day in The Life of an Architectural Photographer gives an interesting peek into a regular day in the life of an Architectural Photographer.
10. Professor / Teaching
Young teachers have become common in Architecture. Teaching is a two-way street, and hence this career path will ensure you never stop learning about architecture and stay in sync with architectural trends. It’s also an option for architects who want to do something while deciding another career path.
Becoming proficient in the particular subject of interest by either practicing it or acquiring a master’s degree or even a Ph.D., will ensure a good position with architectural colleges.
11. Restoration Architect
The conservation and restoration of cultural heritage focus on the protection and care of tangible cultural heritage, including artworks, architecture, archaeology, and museum collections. Conservation activities include preventive conservation, examination, documentation, research, treatment, and education with regards to heritage architecture.
The article by RTF, List of Heritage Conservation Architects in India, lists some of the top Architecture Firms practicing Restoration and Heritage conservation projects.
This career option requires an immense understanding of architecture, architectural drawings, and its jargon. It involves professionals who work as general counsels for big architecture firms.
Specializing in legality of environmental law and land use law can turn your architecture degree into a lucrative career in a less frequented but highly demanding professional niche.
Architects generally work with lawyers to review contracts, solidify deals, and ensure compliance, apart from the resolution of conflicts. A lawyer with an architectural background has increased demand due to his understanding of the subject in a much more technically detailed manner.
13. Project Manager
As defined by the AIA, a Project Manager is responsible for carrying out day-to-day duties and responsibilities. A project manager oversees the planning, organizing, and staffing of the project. They have the understanding of when, how and who of the project, from commencement to possession.
Most architectural project managers spend a significant portion of their time consulting with clients in an office setting. However, they also visit construction sites, where they interact with engineers, contractors and construction personnel.
By integrating design with management skills, your architectural background can lead to success as a project manager.
For architects looking to study project management, there are several opportunities at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level. You can even study while you work, with online study options like the Online Graduate Diploma in Project Management from RMIT.
14. Bim Manager
BIM is a complete 3D model of the building. BIM is used to design and document building and infrastructure designs. Every detail of a building is modeled in BIM. The model can be used for analysis to explore design options and to create visualizations that help stakeholders understand what the building will look like before it’s built. The model is then used to generate the design documentation for construction.
A BIM manager coordinates with multiple people and consultants to stitch together the different models created in BIM by the structural engineers, MEP consultants and designers. There is little designing in this position, and more focus on consultation, management and technical aspects.
The manager takes all the necessary factors for project implementation and completion, categorizes them, and uses them to turn the BIM environment into a productive and collaborative one.
Getting efficient with the software is the first step towards this career opportunity, which can be done through online or full-time courses.
15. Architectural Communications
No doubt, an Architecture Degree help in developing a better communication skill through its jury processes, Communication in architecture is an upcoming career option, diverting from the multitude of architects who practice architecture. It involves immense research and involvement in the latest construction techniques, materials, technology, services and innovation in architecture while creating an unbiased opinion for the world to see. These views are presented by writers who come from a design or architectural background, equipped with its technical understanding.
Communication is a tool for strategizing, connecting and building a good network, not just with other architects but also the vast majority of people who are involved with architecture on a daily basis, the people. It helps in building a brand out of an architectural firm.
To know more about Architectural Communications and Journalism as career options, check out the article ‘Architecture Communications; the Necessity for Architects to Reach out to the Masses’ published by RTF.
The RTF core team had organized a day-long intensive workshop- Communicating Architecture, revolving around Architectural Communication and Architectural Journalism as important tools and career options for architects.
It isn’t uncommon for fresher architects to wonder about other career options either temporarily or about not pursuing architectural practice at all.
Thankfully, an Architecture Degree does not equate to a lifetime of practicing architecture.
Today, with multiple possibilities in a future dictated by architecture, taking this risk is more of a safer bet. With time and unrestricted growth in technology, the whole notion of becoming a part of the masses that join mainstream careers is broken. Today one searches for a living full of passion leading to work, resulting in ‘work’ being done with passion.
Approximately 40% of architecture graduates pursue work outside of the architectural profession, and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) currently reports 26,850 students enrolled in an accredited architecture degree. We can assume that over the following years 10,000 students trained as architects will forge their own path in a variety of other occupations.
So go back, read the list again, and pursue what appeals to you most. But the options don’t stop here. Creativity has endless possibilities, and the best part about being creative is that, if you are willing enough, you can create your own career path.
Shivani Chaudhary is just another architect trying to make it big by breaking free from mainstream architecture. She is passionate about architecture, writing, photography and travel. She believes in change, where change is necessary and in influencing people with her work.