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I work as an architect at a medium-sized firm in Boston, Massachusetts, and have worked here for five years if you include my internship and time spent as an entry-level drafter.
As an architecture firm, we are tasked with the overall design of buildings. There is an emphasis on the aesthetics, as the structural side tends to be handled by engineers.
The team I work on emphasizes the interior design and open spaces within buildings, as well as courtyards outside. We work with the exterior team as well in that capacity. Personally, I do a lot of first-run drafts and concept art for the team, which is later detailed and filled in by the rest of the team collaboratively.
My job satisfaction here is around a seven or an eight. I love building design and the artistic, creative process behind a bringing a building to completion. I enjoy that I am able to focus on interiors of buildings, as they are the most defining parts of one in my opinion. I would have greater job satisfaction if I had a stronger role in the process from beginning to end, but that is reserved for higher level architects. It is my goal to land those jobs later in my career.
I have always been a sketcher and amateur artist throughout high school. I preferred landscapes and buildings to other types of drawings as well. I started college as an art major, but realized that architecture was the far better option for me, my interests, and my career potential. I took an introductory architecture class and fell in love with it from there.
After meeting fellow architecture and design students, plus speaking with my professors, I realized that this was the field I wanted to advance my career in.
I also realized the difference between just having a job and in having a career: a job is something you just do for work and money, but a career is something that lets you define yourself and what you want out of life. I am very thankful I found an actual career and not just a job.
During my junior year of college, I applied for and was accepted for an internship at the firm I currently work at. I engaged in assisting more senior architects by doing research, basic sketches, and sometimes even just grabbing tools or coffee for them. The work let me see what a real architecture firm was like and confirmed my passion for the subject.
My supervisor was so pleased with my work that he also offered me a job after I was through with college. The rest is history, more or less. The beauty of the internship was that it let me combine real-world experience with my education and finally see where the two intersect.
I do not encourage anyone to try getting into a field that you cannot intern in and see some first-hand work in action. That is truly the only way to know if you will really enjoy it or not.
Fortunately, once you discover what you enjoy the rest of it is easy. School and work do not seem like they consume effort if you are truly interested in what you are doing, and that was the case with me. I am very proud of the work I do, and the rewards are immense.
For instance, when a building I have worked on is finally completed, the moment is almost magical. Being able to tour and walk around a space that I imagined is very special. It is almost like a dream. This, more than anything, keeps me coming back to work every day.
Of course, there are always downsides. My job can be immensely stressful when there is a lot on the line. Near deadlines or other obstacles things at the office get very stressful and some long hours sometimes must be put in. I consider this all part of the process, however. To be fair, it rarely occurs as it is. Typically, I am able to enjoy a good balance between work and my personal life.
Given the city I live in and my experience, a reasonable salary for this position is around $90,000 or more. This level of salary allows a comfortable living and I live well within my means with that kind of cash.
In addition, benefits like health insurance and retirement accounts are provided, which is very helpful. I also enjoy three weeks of paid vacation as well as a few personal days. Considering that I like to travel, the extra money and the vacation time is my favorite perk of the job, besides the job itself.
If you would like to work in this field, you will need a degree in architecture or another design degree of some kind. A typical architecture degree takes five years and is considered a professional degree, separate from most other undergraduate degrees. The coursework is very rigorous and includes a combination of art, design, and even some physics classes. I considered it very worth it, however, and I imagine you will too.
Career path architect image from Bigstock