Alternative Career Choices for Architects: An Overview of Options

People trained as architects can choose another career path related to their skills. The training acquired through an architecture-based education can be applied to a number of different non-architecture based job titles. Some career choices include construction manager, urban planner and graphic designer.

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An Overview of Alternative Career Options for Architects

Creativity is a prime trait needed to be a successful architect. Beyond being creative, architects need to be skilled in drawing and designing, as well as communicating with other designers and builders. In order to qualify for the necessary licensure to be an architect, applicants need to possess a Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture or Doctor of Architecture degree from a professional program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (www.naab.org). Individuals who hold any of these degrees can pursue a similar but different career path and apply those architecture-related skills to other disciplines.

Construction Manager

Construction managers read and understand the design plans of a building, and they determine which construction materials would be the best and most cost-efficient to use. They also oversee the hiring of general contractors used to complete a project's specific aspects, like painting or plumbing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that construction managers also acquire the necessary permits and documentation for their site (www.bls.gov). Several managers may work together on large construction projects, overseeing different aspects of them.

While architects aren't always involved in the construction portion of a building's creation, they frequently come in contact with construction managers to help keep projects running on time and on budget. An architect's ability to understand complex building plans is a key part of the job. Architects also have knowledge of building materials and how their strength and durability can be most efficiently used in construction.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS predicts that the number of construction manager jobs will increase 17% from 2010-2020, which is three percentage points higher than the average predicted for all jobs. The agency reported that the median salary for this career was $82,790 in 2012.

Urban Planner

Urban planners use their knowledge of design and construction to effectively develop areas for residential, commercial and social use. Their job entails studying the current land use and preparing reports about it, covering such things as local population growth and resource availability. This process helps ensure their plans are presently viable and sustainable for years to come. Part of this gets accomplished by meeting with local councils and citizens' groups to hear their suggestions about what a community needs.

According to the BLS, urban planners often specialize on one aspect of the job, such as transportation, urban development or land-use enforcement. However, the demands of the job require them to be aware of how their individual project will affect a community as a whole. The position demands that a planner be aware of how to maximize a particular space, which is something an architect's sense of design might help with. Additionally, a creative architect can create a structure that has long-lasting functional and aesthetic sensibilities.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, urban planners can look forward to a better than average 16% employment growth rate from 2010-2020. The median salary for this job was $65,230 in 2012, per the BLS.

Graphic Designer

By implementing artistic and creative skills - including drawing, layout and photography - a graphic designer uses visuals to communicate a verbal idea. Graphic designers often play key roles in the advertising process by creating images used to help consumers identify and remember a particular product. The job does allow for a range of creativity, but most projects begin with a designer consulting with a client about what the image should portray. Usually throughout the process, designers work closely with clients by showing them various drafts until they're satisfied with the finished product.

Graphic designers can work alone, but many times, they may oversee or work with a team of designers. A job as a graphic designer offers a way to use the drawing abilities and creativity that architectural training develops. The position also utilizes an architect's ability to work as part of a team to satisfy a client's wishes.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Graphic designer jobs are expected to increase 13% from 2010-2020, per the BLS. In 2012, graphic designers earned a median salary of $44,150.

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