Since I have studied architecture and have some years of work experience I find it more and more annoying how wrong the picture in society from architects is. For this I want to end with some of these typical standard questions. I also hope that this is helping some students who want to start with the study.
The most common questions or ideas are:
- You are earning a ton of money! This is the biggest lie I have ever heard. Take this situation: you are working in a normal architecture office drawing construction plans and making maybe some “design” (you are not a construction manager) than holly shit no. Architects are the worst paid job in the whole engineer group. You want to have a ton of money? Do something else. You will be happy to pay your rent maybe 2 holidays per year and maybe safe 100 euros per month for the pension. That’s it. These architects who earning a shit load of money working ridicicolous days, they have their own office and a lot of luck. 90% of the offices have just 1-2 person and trying to survive. – That is the question I was mostly asked while traveling: you are an architect no wonder that you can afford to travel. Big laugh and sigh.
- Architects are sooo creative! And again a big fett NOOOOOOO!! We design ca. 10 % of the time but only if you are a design architect otherwise not at all. You barely can say that this is designing. It is more looking after the rules of the country, how cheap can you build and how to use every cm in the best way. So no, there are rules for the rules for designing. It’s not this creative. So use your study time that’s the only time you really can plan whatever you want.
- Thanks of the movie “How I met your mother” a lot of people think that at 3 o’ clock we are sitting in bars and drinking beer with friends. Really? Do I really need to tell you that you can be lucky only to work 8 hours? I am already happy that I get my over hours free (not common in this job). I am in the lucky position that I can use them for my next holiday.
- The variety’s in your job is incredible. Every day is different. I really don’t know anymore when this picture was coming up. No. when you are not a project leader, a specialist or on the leading top of the office than nope. Would be nice! 99% of the time you will sit before your computer drawing all day long, phoning with people and dealing with mails. That’s a normal day! I was also dreaming to be ever week 2 days out at the construction side, having meetings somewhere else and the rest yes off course spending in the office but reality have shown me the real architecture life.
- You must be proud of what are you doing! Why? To spend my life in an office? To build overpriced houses who have soo many mistakes that by myself I wouldn’t buy 90 % of what I am drawing. I was studying architecture because I want to make a different in the world. Bubble is destroyed.
- Everyone in the world knows how to build a house. Everyone thinks they know how to build a house, and they know it better than you. I can imagen doctors have the same problem. Then the sentence are coming but the internet is saying…. I have read…. Someone has told me… you constantly need to prove that people are wrong. (I have given that complete up and don’t talk with people over my work anymore)
- Some normal things who are common from stress is back pain, health problems, over weight, depression, burnout….. I think this can happen in every job.
- Job changes happen almost every 2-3 years. An old college has told me once this formula. The first 6-month everything is new, sooo really fun. The next 6 month you’re realise some sort of problems (over hours, stress, project problems…). The next 6 month you are looking at them. The last 6 month you just hold threw. Job change and hope of something better. That off course depends from office to office but it’s true that every 3 years there is a huge change in the offices I have worked at.
- Traveling! I was also choosing this job because a lot of people have told me it is an amazing job to work international and see the world. It can maybe happen but only in big companies and when you are a manager, otherwise cross it out of that job description.
- Study life! The study is not easy that’s what I can tell you. We are the coffee junkies, the people who work all night long and who are changing a few weeks before the final exams the hole design. We are the glue sniffer and the people who don’t have a love life. We are the undead (that what my working friends called me all the time in exam phase), black pullover people (have never understand that) who running around with massive models and can talk over how to build a perfect toilette days long.
- For the ladies! Don’t think that you will have it easy. Yes you will be an amazing drawing person- underpaid …. But when you want to make carrier you still have it more difficult than men. 90% of the office owner are man. That’s pretty surprising because in every office I was working there are 80 % women. We are the drawers, the yes we can do that person and we don’t step up for ourselves (mostly). At the construction site they don’t take us seriously as well as a manager they don’t take us seriously. Women stand up for yourself. No one will ever give you something for free. When they don’t want us, realize without us the whole industry would be falling down like a card house.
- In my last point I want to say that it is fascinating if you see how a building is coming up from a scratch to a full house where you could live in. For me, I love to see the building part or the renovation part and yes also when I know that I could make something better I love mostly the end result. I hope that every architect is proud of what they do and have the inspiration to go further. We architects trying as hard as we can to produce the best product we can. We need to look after the law, the regulations, the design and the owner’s financial capacity to produce an outstanding construction. Yes I love architecture, but here and there I need a break from it to get a new view of it.
Off course not everything is that bad and it depends from office to office but this is my experience in different offices. I have talked with friends and colleges and this is the most common ones. This glittering facade what everyone things from an architect should be getting more realistic.
Are you working also in the construction area? What do you think over it?
There is a lot of negativity in your words but I know what you mean! I guess what a lot of people with university jobs are dealing with after a few years or even when starting work life is the reality check.
You spend a lot of time studyingand taking exams and while doing so you think to your self: “all that is paying of sometimes! I will make an impact” even if you’re not that sure what kind of impact.
So if you start a job you’re epacting that “big things” to happen, but what you get is e-mails, boring rule based work (not that much creativity as you thought) and, especially when starting your job: boring and unimportant work. In a few word: reality hits you hard. And that’s when a lot of people get desperate: “I meant to be someone! This meant to pay off!”
The easiest way out of this is to realize one thing: it’s meant to pay the bills. You’re not your job! Even if it took you a long time to get this job and you’re sanding even more time doing it, it’s just a small part of you. If you have the urge to fill a hole inside you with your work, you should not look for a better job, you should look for balance in your life!
Dear Sven, thank you for your time and effort to write a comment. This article is for the people who never have had anything to do with the job architect and mostly thinking that we are rich. While I was traveling I need to tell a lot of people that it is not easy to safe enough money for a big trip (in this case 5 month). That’s why I have written this article. I want to show people that we are not just sitting around, drinking coffee and earning a ton of money.