10 Reasons why YOU should become an Architect

Reasons to become an Architect


Pursuing my passion for architecture was definitely the best decision I have ever made in my life. I discovered I wanted to become an architect when I was 21 and it amazes me how after all these years I continue to be just as excited about the subject and the profession as I was before and after college.

There are a million great reasons to become an architect; I could have easily made a list of 100. Looking back, I think one thing that Architecture has done for me is that it feeds upon several of my strengths that I had naturally going for me before I ever decided to become an architect.

Here is my list of reasons on why YOU should become an Architect

1.     You love Projects

You naturally organize everything under the phases: a beginning, a middle and an end.  You take pride in the process and thoroughly enjoy each phase of the project. You constantly go back and forth between thinking, the details and the bigger picture of the project.

Projects could materialize as simple things like: making a dinner, building a website, fixing a bike, or even learning a new skill.  Some projects go on for years, others may die a quick or slow death.

A well done completed project brings you extreme feelings of satisfaction.

The dark side to being obsessed with projects is that there are soooo many projects going on in your life that you can become overwhelmed.

2.     You have preferences….    Lots of them…

Many people don’t have any preferences about the stuff you have preferences about.

Maybe you over think things. That’s OK.

You can usually provide concrete evidence for your preferences. The validity of that evidence doesn’t really matter as long as it makes sense to you.


3.    You stink at math and don’t care

A lot of people say…

“…I always wanted to become an architect, but I’m not very good at math.”  

I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me. The reality is that most many Architects really aren’t that great at math either. The ones that are, use those skills to become engineers.

Honestly, the math thing is actually the first test of becoming an Architect.

Everyone who shouldn’t be an architect says:

“…I stink at math, I can’t do that.”

And stops the process right there.

The aspiring successful Architect says;

“…I know I stink at math and I don’t know how I will do it, but I will figure out how to hack my way through math, calculus, physics and structures. I’ll create the best support team to help me understand and get past all these tough classes.”

Math is only one of the many hurdles. I stink at math and looking back it wasn’t that hard.


4.   You have a passion for people, just as much as buildings or environments

You love learning about human beings, their cultures and differences. It is a never ending topic of fascination:

How are people different? How do they live differently? How are people affected by geography and climate? How do religion, economics and personal beliefs change how people interact with their environments?

…and then you look at how the architecture is affected.

How do poor people live vs rich people?

How do people in LA or NYC live vs the rest of America?

How do Americans live vs Europeans, Asians or the rest of the world?

How do disabled people live and interact with the environment?

How humans interact with the architecture is what makes it so exciting. My passion for this idea has forced me to explore all over the globe, learning about people and their environments.

The majority of an architect’s career is providing a service of creating a functional environment for clients with a variety of needs and wants. Having a passion for understanding about different types of people and cultures helps fuel the process.


5.     You have a passion for space and environments, just like you do for people

You’re highly affected by your environments. You can see, feel and understand the energy in the environment. You may have relationships with objects, buildings, and spaces similar to the relationships you have with people.  Some environments can even elicit an emotional response from you. You may not even know why.

You also have an impeccable memory for most places and environments that you have visited or experienced.


6.   You can be both a Generalist and a Specialist

Architecture is such a broad subject you could never learn it all. My professor who once said:

“Architecture is a reference profession. Architects shouldn’t try to memorize everything, they only really need to know where to go to reference the information they are looking for.”

All architects are Generalists by default. Being a generalist is beaten into them, every step of the way. It’s the point of architecture school and the licensing process. They generally know a little bit about many different subjects to be able to guide their support team of specialists.

Being a specialist is something that comes naturally. Architects all have a handful of subjects that are near and dear to their hearts, which they have chosen to become a specialist about. Some of those subjects are: sustainability, accessibility, design, teaching, detailing, rendering, building envelopes, history, engineering systems, business, politics, solar, building materials and the list can go on forever.

When I took the Architect Registration Exam, it forced me to become a specialist in many many subjects I had very little experieince in, atleast for the time taking the exams. Looking back this allowed me to become an even better Generalist.

7.   You actively design everything

Design is about making decisions. Designers actively enjoy the decision making process in all areas of their lives.

Everything is designed, or shall I say goes through a similar decision making process.

Every decision that presents itself provides an opportunity to practice the decision making design process.

8.   You are willing to sacrifice something

Everyone sacrifices something to become an Architect at some point.

Maybe it’s a relationship, their social life, being in college for a long time, graduating with an enormous amount of student debt, or your mental and physical health.

Time will always be the biggest sacrifice. It’s not such a big deal if you know what you are getting into or even really a sacrifice.

Your loved ones will also be affected by your sacrifices, but they love you and are understanding and supportive of your decisions.


9. You are inspired by creating something great

You are competitive, resilient, disciplined, motivated and you actually love to work.

You look for opportunities to get ahead and are ready to seize them. If working all night while everyone is sleeping is what it takes, you are OK with that.

The ability to hustle (when needed) is the most important skill an architect could have.


10. Your Teachers and Mentors will be an open book on how to do it

Most architects who are further down the path than you are, will be completely transparent with how they did it. They want to help you succeed and can be the very best guide to becoming an architect.

Showing a commitment towards becoming an architect, a passion for the subject and a love for the profession, is the key to accessing this information.

Architecture is an amazing profession

My list tends to be focused inward more than other similar lists. What other characteristics aside from the obvious do you think an architect should embody? Leave me a comment

I mentioned in the other post, one resource that I found tremendously helpful and I recommend to anyone who wants to become an architect is the book Architect? A Candid Guide to the Profession by Roger Lewis. This book paints a very realistic, “this is what you need to know” picture for anyone considering going to architecture school or a career in architecture.

Another excellent resource is the book inside: Architecture and Design: A guide to the practice of architecture (what they don’t teach you in architecture school) By Ryan Hansanuwat. This book is for recent architecture graduates or people trying to find a job in the profession of architecture. It beautifully outlines how to find a job in architecture and the inner workings of most architecture firms.  It’s an excellent read for people who are serious about becoming an architect!

If your interested in learning more about the Architecture Registration Exam, I recently published an Ebook titled How To Pass The Architecture Registration Exam. It helps architecture graduates get a better understand on what the test is and how to effective tackle the self guided process of completing 7 extremely changing Architecture exams.

Next week I will consider:

10 Reasons why you SHOULD NOT become an Architect.

About the author

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is an Architect who lives in beautiful Portland, OR, with his Labrador Retriever. He is passionate about helping young architects change the world and is committed to providing them with information to jumpstart their professional careers. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In.

Leave a comment:

Michael Riscica - March 18, 2014

Comment 1

Ryan Hansanuwat - March 18, 2014

Love the list Michael and thanks for the shout out.

I think it is especially important for others to understand number 8 about sacrificing before they get into architecture. There will be times when you and your sacrifices will affect others, but keeping it within reason and discussing it before hand helps you get through it.

Christina Canters - July 26, 2014

Firstly, great blog Michael! From my experience, people who thrive on solving problems have what it takes to be good architects! With a built project, something will ALWAYS go wrong, and it’s up to the architect to figure out a solution, or find someone who can, while keeping the client’s head from exploding.

Keep up the great work!

Sabrina Budzevski - September 17, 2015

Hello Michael, I’m 17 years old and everyone around me is pressuring me all the time and asking me what career I would like in the future. For the longest time I wanted to be a teacher but once I reached high school I didn’t know if that’s what I still wanted to do. Lately I’ve been thinking about my interest and I love math and art, so I would love to get a job in the future pertaining these subjects. At first I thought I should do interior design but once I talked to my parents about that they said I would get no job offers. They also said it would be useless to go to school for that because my aunt is an interior designer and she did not go to school for it. So that’s when they brought up architecture. At first I thought, I don’t know, but the more I think about it everyday the more I want to do it. Is it really worth going to school for so long and does the demand for job offers depend on where you live? I also don’t know anything about buildings and other things like that, so should I start learning now or would I learn that in college? Last thing, do you know any classes or after so volunteer work I could do that would better my chances in college for architecture? Thanks for making this list I’ll give it much thought. I’m sorry I wrote so much.

    Michael Riscica - September 17, 2015

    First off your Aunt is probably an Interior Decorator, not an Interior Designer. Decorators usually have no training, and mostly only pick out finishes, furniture and clutter for the interior. Interior Decorators frequently team up with their friends the Real Estate Agents and stage houses so they can be sold.

    Interior designers pick finishes and soo much more. Interior Designers go through a very rigorous training which is a very similiar experience to architecture school. Interior Designers are trained in codes, construction, furniture, circulation, space, materials, psychology, all aspects of design and soo much more, unlike decorators. Interior designers work alongside Architects, helping them carry through the project to the interior. Its a very specialized field and there is frequently a blurry line between Architecture and Interior design.

    I have a very high respect for Interior Design profession because, it is a specialty that I am not very good at and getting the interiors right is such an important part of a successful project.

    At my university the first 2 years of architecture school or Interior design school was the same curriculum. After year 2, the interiors people split off into a more interiors focused education. My advice would be to get yourself into an Architecture school that offers an interiors program, those are usually the better schools anyways. After you do a handful of projects and see what you really enjoy doing, then you will be asked to decide if you should go to interiors or stay in architecture.

    In the meantime i would do what you can to work on your drawing skills. Practice drawing freehand, drafting and maybe even basic autocad. Also start learning architecture and design history. You will learn all this stuff in school, but the more of a head start you can get the faster you can hit the ground running.

    I disagree with your parents. Interior Designers have just as much work as Architects. The 2 professions are complimentary and go hand in hand.

    Hope this helps.

      Sabrina Budzevski - September 18, 2015

      Thanks for responding Michael. I will definitely pick my decision carefully and think about what you said.

Kyle Comeaux - October 22, 2015

ugh.. I’m totally in tuned with all of the reasons why I “should be an architect.” Yet, most of the items in “why you should not be an architect” resonate through my bones.
It’s a depressing thing that I deal with daily because I have a B.S. and a Master’s degree in architecture, along with 70,000 dollars in student loan debt. But, knowing that if I stick with architecture, i’ll never pay it off.
It’s like, I want it, but I can’t justify it.

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