A master’s degree in architecture, one of the highest paying master’s degrees, is – naturally – good preparation for working as an architect. However, just because you choose this degree path doesn’t mean you’re locked into working as an architect for life. If you end up eyeing a career change, some of the new professions you might end up looking into include manager, marketer, lawyer, animator and writer, according to Architect Magazine, the Journal of the American Institute of Architects. Shifting careers from architect to one of these other roles will require you to capitalize on the versatile, transferrable skills you develop in this field and acquire a new set of skills and experiences, whether through formal education or informal on-the-job training.
Business and Management Roles for Architecture Graduates
Some architects find that they enjoy the business side of architectural practice – or end up leaving the field of architecture altogether for a business role in a different industry. After all, studying architecture equips you with a set of skills that is as valuable in the business world as it is in the design of buildings. You learn to research a project’s requirements, potential locations and any regulations that apply, skills that can later help you with market research. The concept development and project phasing that apply to the process of architectural design also aid you in rolling out a new product, service or marketing campaign.
Depending on the industry in which you decide to go into business, you might even use your visual design skills and knowledge of construction materials and constraints. Of course, part of working in architecture is working under budgetary constraints and construction time requirements, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Budgets and deadlines are part of virtually any product in any industry, so it isn’t hard to imagine how developing that skill would help you in a new role, whether you decide to work in marketing, internal company leadership or management consulting. You could even start your own business with these skills you gained by studying architecture.
If you still enjoy working in the field of architecture, a role as an architectural manager may be a good choice for you. The BLS reports a $144,830 median wage for architectural and engineering managers, compared to $105,660 across all management occupations.
Bringing Architectural Knowledge to the Legal Industry
Architects deal with a lot of codes, rules and regulations. If you enjoy this aspect of the work, you might want to consider a career as a lawyer. Attorneys work in different areas of law. Although you certainly could decide to make a massive leap from working as an architect to practicing criminal law as a prosecutor or defense attorney, an area of civil law may better fit your established set of skills.
For example, an architect-turned-attorney would be well-suited to practice environmental law, land-use law, construction law or contract law. You might represent architectural firms as part of your client base or even find an internal role within a large architectural firm as the company’s in-house legal counsel.
To become an attorney, you’ll need to earn your Juris Doctor degree and pass the bar exam to become licensed. Although law school is a big commitment, you’ll enjoy the benefits of a career for which the BLS reports a median salary of $122,960.
Creative Careers With an Architecture Background
Working in the field of architecture requires a great deal of creativity, but it also takes technical skill, discipline, and the organizational skills to plan a project as huge as the design and construction of a building. Although this blend of skills may be more pronounced in architecture than in many other fields, it’s a valuable combination for many different professions, especially those that are creative in nature.
For example, you could use your visual art skills to become an animator. Although your proficiency in sketching, painting and computer design is important for this career, so is the discipline to break your project up into stages and painstakingly animate each individual frame.
You might also draw on your creative abilities to become a writer. Although writing and illustrating picture books may seem to have the closest relationship to your architectural training, you can also create literary works without visual pictures. Being able to visualize scenes in your mind and convey them clearly in writing is a crucial skill for authors as well as architects. Your organizational abilities can help you keep straight even the most complex plotlines and plan out each step needed to pull together a story where every element fits perfectly.
If you’re not sure if you’re ready to make a career change, you could always work on creative projects as a hobby or side job for a while. Write your children’s book or novel, take up blogging, or do some short film animations for companies to test the waters.