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Architecture Questions Part One

Recently I received a letter from a Middle School student out of Illinois who had multiple questions about Architecture profession as a part of a career choice class assignment.

  • What is architecture all about?

  • Should I major in architecture?

  • Does architecture involve lots of math?

  • Do architects design just buildings?

  • What is an estimated salary of an architect?

  • How long does it take to design a building?

  • What other jobs can architects apply for?

  • Is black dress code a requirement?

Those and other questions made me realize that a true understanding of architecture is hidden, misperceived, complex and mysterious to those outside the profession. After writing the responses, I realized that those questions are asked often; and I thought I should put those answers out there for everybody to see.

What is architecture all about?

Architecture is about providing solutions through design, advice and direction by an architect while preserving safety, law, comfort, style, social ideas, and clients’ requests among other things under time and budge constraints; involving new or existing buildings, renovations, preservation, urban planning, interior design, space planning etc.

Should I major in architecture?

Yes, but with a warning.

Yes because given proper architectural education it is a mind-opening degree which will help you develop a unique problem solving ability; useful in any profession. It is a unique and vast profession with each project having its own set of challenges. A warning, because it is a long and difficult path to embark on; licensure requirements are tough and you are required to earn either a five year or masters degree, up to three years of internship and several exams to pass. On average it takes ten to fifteen years to become a licensed and skilled architect. Yet many in the industry work and are successful in the architecture industry without or while earning a license.

Does architecture involve lots of math?

No. Well…not exactly.

Architecture involves problem solving through creative ideas, design and logical solutions. At times it may involve math; for the most part it may be simple area calculations using square feet, project costs in dollars and cents, adding measurements in fractions of feet and inches. Complex formulas and calculations are typically done by the engineers on the project.

Do architects design just buildings?


Besides buildings we also do renovations of existing buildings, additions, restorations, planning of interior layouts, urban planning, etc. There are also many other areas that architectural background becomes a unique set of skills where design and planning is essential; such as clothing, furniture and city planning.

What is an estimated salary of an architect?

Salary mostly depends on location, experience and position, varying from an intern to a principal. Average intern starting salary is about 40,000$/year and a successful principal at a reputable firm can earn over 100,000$/year.

How long does it take to design a building?

Design is an ongoing process. Initial idea for a building can happen in just minutes, but because buildings are very complex and due to unforeseen circumstances the design process happens all along the way. Often we may have to go back and redesign the initial idea if we find issues or a better solution along the way. Design even happens while building is under construction or even after because of all the unknown factors and uncertainty along the way.

What other jobs can architects apply for?

Architecture degree involves general problem solving and can be invaluable in any profession. There are successful actors, politicians etc. who have utilized their architectural training in their professions. Many related industries such as Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Construction hire architects.

Is black dress code a requirement?

Yes, upon licensure you must take a sacred vow to only wear black clothes. Kidding, the black clothes is just a bad movie cliché. However, you will need to learn to wear different types of hats.

A note from author: Keep in mind that those views and answers may be answered differently by others or they may simply change with time; as of 2017 architecture as an industry is in an ongoing state of change so it is very likely that answers will change as well. Be assured that I am optimistic in the changes will be good and that it is an interesting, complex and rewarding profession with a variety of mind engaging activities; a definite worth of exploration as a possible career choice and interest.

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