So You Want To Be An Architect? Think Twice

Friday, October 29, 2010

Oh, to be a wide-eyed and optimistic student ready to enter architecture school and stake his or her claim in the world of starchitecture.  A humorous take on the soul-crushing, back-breaking, pain-inducing life of an architect.  Be warned, some language NSFW.

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40 Responses to “So You Want To Be An Architect? Think Twice”

  1. Hodges says:

    Not all of us make crap money coming out of school. When I graduated I was quite happy with my paycheck. I might have been one of the only few to intern while in my final 3 years though. The rest of you did do that right? I hope so because that’s the only way you’ll get experience and stay away from designing bathrooms & stairs.

  2. chingaso says:

    codes, government indifference, client education (or lack of process sophistication) are the chief trouble makers out there. But you can also add in a competitive profession, a host of unpredictable project participants, and you realistically begin to comprehend the challenges that architects face….. it’s tough, and i hope i never regret it…. so far so good!

  3. mmm says:

    His shirt buttons look like nipples.

  4. leigh says:

    geez this guy is such a pessimist. maybe that’s why he hasn’t been successful. douche bag.

  5. Jonathan says:

    I love a little satirical humor. Perhaps people are taking this too seriously? The profession is in a sad state at the moment, but like many things these days their will be an end and the profession will survive even if it is different than now.

    The secret to not drawing bathrooms and stair sections all day? Work at a small firm and end up insane anyway, but with a lot of practical knowledge and great projects on your resume.

  6. elbeto says:

    Unfortunately, everything it;s true, but if you love architecture go for it.

  7. Amanda says:

    The woman sounds too naive and the man sounds like some jaded cinical architect that never really had a real passion for the field in the first place and got into it because he thought he would make money.

    Even though it is tough to find jobs right now, they are out there. The only people who are going to be stuck doing bathroom details are interns (who might learn something useful from it) and people who are fine being told what to do their whole lives and went through their academic career with professors designing for them.

  8. Ana says:

    To all the people that posted negative responses to this:
    Have a sense of humor guys!
    At some point all of us have experienced some of the “challenges” the guy is talking about! And he’s right, LEED is crap! No one wants to pay for it and it it a waste of money. Design green buildings, just don’t get them LEED certified.

  9. […] glamorous world of “starchitecture” seems like a myth in this video, in which a seasoned design pro urges a wide-eyed student to stay away from the architecture field. […]

  10. David says:

    Ha..the story of my life.

  11. Katie says:

    Everything about this video is true.

  12. JIA says:

    Having been in the architectural profession for 25 years, and having a hsuband who has been a licensed architect for over 30 years, this video accurately reflects the profession. If you are an architectural student, switch over to Law School NOW while there’s still time. The egos that lead some architects to their profession also make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to admit the truth about their profession. Bravo to the makers of this video for having the courage, wit and wherewithall to accurately capture the true esence of the archtiecutral profession.

  13. cr says:

    chingaso – me encanto su nombre!

  14. craig says:

    Of course the guy is jaded, he lives in a cardboard box by the freeway. I can’t blame the guy!

  15. LOL says:

    LOL.. Totally true:)) She is a typical student flying in the clouds dreaming up dream cities.. he is a realist working in a real world with real projects:) Architecture is not always fun. Do you know who has fun? The boss, who comes up, throws a few exciting ideas and leaves. You are the one left to work out every detail of every crazy idea your boss has. Then he comes back a week later and tells you it doesn’t work. You begin to loose track of time, spend 18 hours in front of the PC (been there done that). Your spouse needs a photo now to remember your face and your children begin to speak with the language of their nanny. This is a different side of the story – not drawing bathrooms and stairs, but the actual “exciting” stuff…Trust me and the video – there is a reason only 50 percent of students actually stay in the field of architecture.

  16. arkispeek says:

    That should go pretty quick – right. Or. We need to value engineer 5 mil out of a 20 mil budget thanks to the creative without a clue. Or how late can you stay tonoight or for that matter the next month since design pissed away all of the CD budget

  17. Esteban says:

    This is horrible, but funny. The profession is tough, but if you stick with it and stand up for yourself, you can do well.
    It is easy to complain about it, but I think the profession attracts pessimists and OCD people.
    I worked with someone who summed up the negative part of the profession.

    “Architecture is a miserable profession” he said in a Woody Allen like whine.
    “Then why do you do it?” I asked.
    “Because it is probably the least miserable thing that you could do.”

    I don’t work all night and day and still get my work done and even manage to be creative. I have a house in a nice neighborhood (a small house, which is fine) and have two young children and a wife, also an architect, who is able to stay home and take care of the kids, do some small design jobs and cook me dinner when I get home at 5:30 almost every evening. I don’t work weekends unless it is an emergency.

    So, you probably won’t get rich or famous, but you do get to draw a lot and think about different things. It can be a good life.

  18. Dan Berkovitz | Miami Industrial Specialist says:

    Where’s the vid????

  19. heatherpeather says:

    oh mah gahh bahah. I started as an architect and am now a high school math teacher. hey if you like it, do it. if you don’t, do something else. 😀

  20. zany says:

    That totally true, So i had regret to be an Architect

  21. Cris says:

    This is very funny!!! I am not an Architect, I am a Designer and unemployed at the moment… loved my job, worked weekends, holidays, didn’t make a lot of money, lots of deadlines… I think it is all true for designers and architects… I still love design…

  22. desarc says:

    yup. went to undergrad for architecture designing awesome buildings with no budget, no code compliance, no zoning issues, and no real structure. graduated and spent 12 hours a day as a draftsman cranking out butler buildings. i made more than a fast food employee UNTIL you factored in my student loan payments.

    glad i switched professions after undergrad. still in the field but not an architect.

  23. […] friend, Amanda, forwarded this to me. She is also working as an intern architect. It was located on Architect’s Newspaper, and man is it a […]

  24. lisa says:

    lol! funny! I had a good paycheck out of school and was meeting with clients right away, but my boss was a drunk and someone had to be in charge. haha! still, I love my projects from school that looked like they could shoot lasers and fly through space!

  25. cre8 says:

    All true, but it’s still a good living, the upside… you can keep working till your 90, your knowledge is always useful.

  26. Austin Soutas says:

    Great information, you really have to love this business it seems like. Looking for loans email me for information for California buyers or home owners.

  27. Jordan says:

    The whole world is in this state right now. The rich get richer and the new graduates face hopless mounds of debt to these rich, in low-paying jobs and all see a darker future than their parents could ever dream of. The debt load will just ever continue to increase until we finally say enough is enough.

  28. ThePETEster says:

    The video is funny because it has a string of truth that is exaggerated for effect. All traditional professions are becoming more like commodities, and this has been the trend for a long time. But as time goes on, you can find a way to love what you do. If it doesn’t work out, the education and discipline you have gained will serve you well in other endeavors.

  29. steve says:

    This was hilarious, a lot of truth to it. Everyone needs to lighten up, because it is called humor, which you need as an architect.

  30. indofunk says:

    Can’t call a lawyer without being charged, cant visit doctor without insurance, but architects’ consultation can be free…. The AIA and related governing bodies should be ashamed for doing a terible job in the marketing/betterment of this profession… The exam is failed in most of its purposes except for public safety, most licensed architects can’t design (the A list is only handfull, and some of them are not even architect e.g. Phillippe Starck). Funny but sad. when you dont make enough dough, somehow it correlates with lack of imagination (supposedly a required attribute for this profession). Find job that pay so you can design your dream house.

  31. krzystoff says:

    this is exaggerated, and the stilted speech used in xtranormal combined with the poorly written dialogue makes it all the more hysterical.

    however, it highlights some of the very real issues that most in the profession have to face. it misses a few even bigger issues, being the huge risks that most will Architects face during their career, particularly in their own business, of litigation from clients and builders, malpractice suits, now OH&S and implied use adds to the growing threat over our heads (any misjudgment made accidentally or deliberately either by you, your client or a consultant) renders the Architect liable from now until they die.
    add to that the mix of comparatively low pay for the industry (check any career/job search website for figures), the stress and emotional and intellectual energy devoted to your projects — solid reasons for being here are rare indeed.

    ultimately the commitment of years of study and accumulated experience ensures that most Architects never leave the profession — even after reaching the realization of how unvalued their profession is, and how better their life would have been if they had never so much as touched a scale ruler — all we can do is instruct our kids to NEVER BECOME AN ARCHITECT.

  32. mbessearchitect says:

    So true, so true.

    Architects are held in great public and personal esteem until the checkbook is involved. Then everyone has an uncle or niece that will do it for less.

    Lawyers are held in low esteem until someone needs one, then money is no object.

    Another example, with rounded numbers to make the math easy. A developer investing $10M on a project would expect a ten year return of $1M per year or $10M. The contractor would hope to make a 10% profit on his contract or $1M. The architect would love to get a 10% fee on which a 10% profit would be nice. His profit would amount to $100,000. Now which of these persons must spend at least 5 years in college?

  33. michael puertas says:

    You most likely will not spend much time designing. You will work on alot of boring corporate office buildings, retail shopping centers, and resorts. Run away from the profession. It isn’t what you think it is!

  34. nyitsopht says:

    I’m an architecture student in my 2nd year and i’m very confused as to what I want to do. I was set to do the 5 year program until about 2 weeks ago when it hit me that i’m not cut out for that. I’m having a rough semester but i wonder if this confusion is temporary or a revelation and i’ll just never wanna be an architect. HELP!!

  35. nyitsopht says:

    I also wanna add that my dad has a construction business that is actually growing and I wonder if i should just get my B.S. Arch and work with him. I don’t really know the masters of arch program and what that entail, so if anyone would please help me understand that i’ll be very grateful

  36. BigEgoArch says:

    This is the best profession ever.

    Architect Degree (5 0r 6 Years) $250,000
    IDP (Experience Through Internships) (3 to 10 years) $350
    ARE (Architect Registration Examination) (1 to 3years) $3,000
    Pain/Suffering/ Tools, Equipment $46,650

    Total Cost to become a Licensed Architect $300,0000

    Intern Architect Salary ($10,000 to $30,000) (0-5 years)
    Junior Architect Salary ($30,000 to $50,000) (5-10 years)
    Intermidiate Architect Salary ($50,000 to $70,000) (10-15 years)
    Senior Architect Salary ($50,000 to $70,000) (15-20 years)

    Reward/Pride/Joy/Ego of been Licensed Architect Priceless.

  37. beentheredonethat says:


    Don’t continue, but chances are you will not listen.

    Work with your dad, learn the construction business, and if your dad retires, you have a business to own as your own.

    Ever notice how construction companies, QS companies, Real estate companies have been public-listed on the stock exchange, but you never hear of an architecture company going public?? It should tell you something about the industry.

    Also, I have rarely (nay, NEVER, but I like to be optimistic that there are a few out there smart enough to do it) seen architecture companies own the office they are in. They pay rent.

    I’m now working in the financial services industry and the entire building belongs to them. They own it and when they move, they sell the building and make a hefty profit.

    You’ll never have fun in the design process – because it’s a team effort. The design director sketches some squiggly lines and you as the junior will interpret those lines and “design” a building. It’s not your design, because the design director will have to approve your interpretation – he will be a “nazi” about it, if you don’t comply, he will get another “designer” to follow his plan.

    Also when you become a design director, you have 1,001 things to care about that are not related to architecture. You meet your juniors and have only a few minutes to talk and draw a few lines before you run off to the next meeting, of which you know you are going to be late.

  38. nyitjuniornow says:

    Been there done that…. u are right i didn’t listen i continued my education because of financial reasons it was too late to change majors. So now im a junior n i am learning that there r other aspects to this field that i can explore.. like real estate development or construction management. Its all stressful no matter how u slice it but who makes more money? Not the architects. at the end of the day we all have bills n have to put food on the table. Im still kinda confused but one thing is for sure i do NOT want to be an architect.

  39. lynn says:

    Architecture is difficult. Ultimately, loving and admiring buildings is not enough to survive the profession. I’ve been through 5 years of school, and while I believe I’m not a brilliant student, the internships I’ve done and the nature of architecture schools give good insights into the soul crushing state the profession can bring one into. Funnily enough, I question whether my pessimsm is the cause and not the profession itself but have often been proven that hey, I’m sincerely trying my best but can’t cut it with the chaos that this profession causes to one’s lifestyle, health and balance. To decide wether you should quit. get a feel of yhe industry and check your priorities. If the profession is not flexible for meeting those priorities, never ever fall into the dogma of quitting being a bad thing. I know that i can’t overwork myself with yhe design process and have decided not to pursue work in an architectural office. People may want to say what a waste it is, but remember you’ve already had a taste, and you really didn’t like it.

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