Career Path of an Architect – Board & Vellum

Advice for Young Architects

Career Path of an Architect (And, Beyond)

By Jeff Pelletier
August 6, 2018

What am I going to be when I grow up?

I ask myself this question with a surprising frequency. Now, let me clarify: it isn’t that I think of myself as immature, it is more that I don’t see myself doing the same thing for decades down the road.

Let me pause and let everyone know I’m not leaving architecture any time soon. I love what I do and as I’ve said before, I’ve known since I was probably two that I was going to be an architect. It is one of those weird things that I’ve just always known with certainty.

What I love about the field of architecture is the breadth of possibilities that our careers give us. Most of us have some professional degree that teaches us design skills as well as some technical knowledge. (Probably, a separate blog post is needed to clarify the exceptions to that rule.) While many of us take that degree into the field of architecture, many of us go into graphic design; UX, interaction, and visual design; marketing; or any type of creative field that benefits from the training and software skills developed in the architectural world. I love graphic design, but my software skills are too rusty to make that transition! So, I’m not talking about changing careers, I’m talking about the potentials within my field.

A few years ago, we brought a landscape and site design studio on-board at Board & Vellum. It was a field I’d always felt passionate about and wished I had the resources and time to train in, to actually become a licensed landscape architect. Having the team in-house not only made our projects better, but it also gave me the chance to soak up and learn more about the field. It lit a fire in me that made me realize there are numerous directions I can take this career. Whether it is writing a book (hello, career as an author!), speaking about the benefits of a great workplace environment, training to become a landscape architect, or even diving into consulting to help create vibrant street-level retail and commercial environments — there are plenty of places I can take myself professionally. It is damn exciting, and I’m glad that my career in architecture has provided me with the skills and mindset to solve problems and expand my professional possibilities.

I like to speak to a lot of people either in school or just entering the design profession, to hear their perspective on what they see in their future. I think a great thing that is occurring is there is a tangible shift from people thinking a degree in architecture means only doing architecture, to a realization that a degree in architecture opens up a whole variety of career paths. We are a group that never stops learning (if you meet an “expert” in something, the truth is they’re either not remotely, or quite diligently always learning more), and that opens up everything. I encourage anyone looking into starting a career in architecture, to think about all the possibilities in front of you and where they may lead. And remember, even people later in their career can shift gears.

So I may not be just one thing when I grow up, except committed to keep expanding what it means to learn more and help more people.

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series originally spearheaded by Bob Borson of Life of an Architect. Historically, he has selected a theme and a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s posts. This year, the themes have been selected by a variety of contributors. This month’s theme was selected by Mike LaValley of the Evolving Architect and is: "Career Path." To read how others interpreted the theme, please explore the links below.

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Well, How Did I Get Here (Again)

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
a paved but winding career path

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Career - The News Knows

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#architalks 41 "Career Path"

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Winding Path

Drew Paul Bell - Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Career Path

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Career Path(s)

Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Career Path

Steve Mouzon - The Original Green Blog (@stevemouzon)
A Strange Career Path

Would you like to read more from the team?

If you enjoy reading our blog as much as we enjoy writing it, that just makes our day! You might also enjoy a few of the related posts below. And, if there is a topic that you wish we would cover, let us know!

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