I have had so many requests for an interview with an Architect and I finally landed one thanks to my friend Julie. Julie’s friend Kate agreed to fill out my interview questionnaire about her career as an Architect. Here it is!
Q: What is the title of your profession?
A: I am an Associate Architect.
Q: What do you do?
A: We design buildings. I work at a large firm that does mainly University work and museums. Architecture is created by a team of people responsible for the design, management and technical development of the project. We work with an owner (which can be a person, developer or even the president!) and a contractor who is responsible for the construction.
Q: Have you always worked in this field?
A: Yes, since I finished school.
Q: Why did you choose this profession?
A: I have always liked to draw and I guess an architecture class was recommended to me in high school. I found it engaging and challenging although I knew little about the profession. I did some architecture in undergrad however, it wasn’t until I was in a much more structured program in grad school that I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do.
Q: How would you define your profession?
A: I would say its a profession that can lead to a lifetime of learning. As in art, architecture is related to history, culture, politics and even fashion. It is also something everyone relates to and can react and experiences every day.
Q: Did you go to college or a trade school for this profession?
A: I went to college and graduate school.
Q: How long did you go to school? Where? What was your degree in?
A: I went to to Northeastern University for 5 years and received a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in architecture. I continued at Syracuse University for 3.5 years and received a Masters of Architecture.
Q: Do you use your degree in your job? In what way?
A: Yes, most practicing architects have a degree in Architecture, and it typically requires a professional degree. There are many ways to complete a professional degree though, a 5 year undergrad program, a 4 year degree followed by 2 years of a grad program.
This is followed by 3 years of ‘internship’ and then you can become registered by sitting for a series of tests.
Q: Can your degree be used as a basis for any other professions? What types?
A: Many architects specialize in anything from lighting design to exterior facade consulting. Many also go into management from the owners side for a non profit organization or a University. There are many paths that may come from studying and practicing architecture.
Q: Does your job require continued education? What type? How much?
A: Yes, to keep a license most states require a certain amount of hours of continuing education each year. The AIA (American Institute of Architects) which many architects belong to, also requires continuing education hours which can be obtained by lectures, conferences or lunch presentations given in the office.
Q: Does your job require a certification or board testing?
A: Yes, you need to take a test and then maintain a license. You can get licenses in multiple states.
Q: What is a day in the life of your job? Does it change day to day? Do you work with the public?
A: I work in a big office in the city where there are about 40 active projects. I often draw or sketch now as my project is in a design phase, meet with consultants to work out issues and spend time resolving construction issues on another project just finishing up construction. Every day is different as the project progresses. My particular role doesn’t involve much interviewing with new potential clients, but I spend time meeting with outside consultants (structural engineers) or contractors.
Q: What do you think makes a person successful in this profession?
A: A passion for the built environment and the ability to work well on a team. Most architects also have good design skills.
Q: Does your profession require travel? How much?
A: Travel is required for those chasing new work for interviewing, or for projects that are local. I just finished a project out in California and had to go once a month or so.
Q: What is the typical schedule/hours?
A: Architects typically work long hours. Overnighters or super late hours often are required around deadlines.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: I enjoy the technical side of architecture so developing the design through the details is very rewarding.
Q: What do you dislike about your job?
A: The hours mostly. And that each project takes years from concept design through construction so its a long process to see the built work.
Q: What advice would you give to a child/student that is considering this profession?
A: Take a summer architecture course which many universities offer to understand better what architects do. Talk to a few architects and visit their office.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same profession?
Q: Are you having fun?
A: I do like my job.
Q: Do you receive a pension or have a company sponsored 401k?
A: We have a 401K program but the company does not match funds. There is no pension.