Alternative Careers for Architects
Just because you have a degree in architecture, it doesn’t mean being an architect is the only thing you can do. An architectural degree gives you a varied skill set that can be applied to many roles. Whether you gain a degree in architecture or architectural technology here are some options you can also consider.
Skills you gain from architecture
Firstly, lets look at some of the skills you will acquire during your degree:
- Creative thinking and problem solving
- Design skills
- Drawing skills
- Computer and IT skills including CAD, and various other softwares
- Research skills
- Analytical and logical approach to problem solving
- Communication skills both verbally, written and visually
- Project management skills
- Ability to work in a team
- Knowledge of the construction industry
- A spatial awareness and understanding
- Being able to pull together key factors surrounding a project to include environment, social, cultural and political areas
To name but a few…… you will pick up so much more than the skills I have mentioned above, and below are a few suggestions to put those skills to use if you choose you do not want to be an architect/ architectural technologist.
Maintaining your connection to art, design and creativity:
Develop your skills in graphic design
A graphic designer is a professional who visually communicates information. They can work on anything from branding, advertising, brochures, magazines, websites, packaging, logos and so much more. The world of graphic design is exciting, varied and fulfilling, and pulls on many of the skills that are picked up when studying architecture.
Move into the field of photography
With an eye for detail and design, an architecture graduate would be a great fit to move over to photography. Many architects and architecture students already have a passion for photography, so moving over to professional photography might be a natural fit. Architectural photographers will focus on photographing completed buildings, interiors and other built structures for marketing materials, publications, online work, portfolios and so on.
Production designer (theatre, film, tv)
A production designer works in the film industry making sure shooting locations are prepared, works with the directors, writers and producers to cohesively bring the story together. The role requires organisation, creativity and project management skills all of which you nurture during your architecture degree.
Product design looks at solving users problems by finding and developing creative solutions. Understanding the customer and identifying market opportunity are important aspects of a product designers key tasks.
Using your computer/software skills:
There are many drafting roles beyond the scope of architecture. If you have found you are particularly skilled in using drafting software then there are plenty of opportunities to explore. You could look at architectural drafting, engineering, product design and much more.
Visualisation skills (3D software) – product design or marketing
Again looking at product design and marketing, there are many roles that feature 3d work as a key player. Not only this, but with the rise of 3D printing, a whole new market has opened up to those who are particularly talented in the 3d world. It is a competitive market but an exciting one.
Video Game (3D Software) – design
Video game designers make the concept of game play come alive by designing the content and rules of the game in pre production, considering the design, environment, flow, characters, storylines and much more. It is a varied and exciting role, with the gaming industry continuing to grow. An interesting alternative career for architects.
A BIM manager acts as the intermediary between the designers, clients, architects, engineers on a project. The BIM manager oversees the digital construction procedures and manages drawing production. The role can also include training other staff and colleagues, overseeing purchases of hardware and software, keeping all technology up to date and more.
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Specialising in a particular area of construction:
A project manager takes a project through all stages, from planning, execution, monitoring, control and completion. They are a key part to the whole construction process and make sure that the project runs efficiently. Task can include time management, creating benchmarks, risk management, managing budgets, managing staff, distributing resources, managing relationships with stakeholders and much more. An interesting alternative career for architects.
Product/ material research and development
Facilities mangers are responsible for security, maintenance and services of facilities to make sure everything runs efficiently and safely for the organisation and its employees. The role requires organisation, working well under pressure and coordination and planning.
Lighting and acoustics
Surveying (building / commercial / residential)
Building surveyors provide specialist advice regarding all aspects of design and construction. They look at maintenance, repair, refurbishment and restoration of buildings – skills picked up during your architecture degree. Many people have gone for surveying when considering alternative careers for architects.
Building conservation looks at maintaining, preserving, restoring and protecting historical buildings. Many architects develop a passion for historical buildings so there is a clear link from architecture to conservation.
Interior Architecture looks at designing the interior space, looking at many aspects from psychology to structure, to furniture design. It is an interesting and varied profession and certainly something many architecture graduates would be interested in. One of the great alternative careers for architects.
Similarly, interior design also focuses on the internal spaces of a building, but enhances the spaces by improving the environment of the interior. An interior designer will plan, research, coordinate and manage the interior project.
Although this would most certainly require further study, many architects find that they have a keen interest in the structural side of the profession and make a jump over to the other side.
Built Environment & Property:
Urban planning looks at the process of developing and designing land use and the built environment. It covers areas such as transportation, communications, distribution and other infrastructure. An interesting option for alternative careers for architects.
Property development involves developing buildings or land into a higher use value. The knowledge that you gain as an architect is valuable when it comes to property development. Many architects have an interest in developing their projects from the drawing board to having complete control of the process from start to finish. It could be viewed as a natural progression for someone who has graduated with an architecture degree. One of the great alternative careers for architects.
Knowledge of buildings and the urban landscape could be put to good use as an estate agent, whether residential or commercial. Or, how about starting your own property letting and sales company…?
I think landscape architecture is a really nice alternative career for architects. The landscape architect creates landscapes, plans, designs and implements spaces in the natural and built environment. A keen interest in the natural world is important, and a knowledge of sustainable and sensitive environments. Roles can be varied and interesting.
PR and Marketing
So just remember, having an architecture degree under your belt gives you way more career options than it would first appear.