If you're like most working Americans, you'll change jobs – and, quite possibly, careers – multiple times throughout your professional life. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average seasoned worker has held at least 11 different jobs. For today's architecture professionals, changes in the landscape could require similar professional flexibility and a makeover of their careers.
Changes and Challenges Facing Architects
Architecture is a profession linked to upswings and downturns in the economy. According to the 2009-2010 Census, nearly 14 percent of recent graduates with architecture degrees were unemployed. The field of architecture can be affected by the climate of the housing market and commercial construction. That's why experienced and new architects alike may explore alternative career paths that make use of their talents, interests and skills. Fortunately, architecture professionals possess a range of transferable skills that fit well in many other industries. Soft skills, which include their artistic perspective and creativity, combined with technical proficiency, can provide those who've worked in architecture with various new career options for a professional transition.
Landscape Design and Architecture
Communities across the United States are increasingly viewing design, infrastructure and development through an environmental lens. Additionally, local residents' and citizens' interest in green principles in technology and urban design continue to grow. That's why landscape design is an attractive career option for experienced architects. Landscape designers help plan, design and oversee the development of outdoor spaces, such as parks, golf courses, greenways, bike paths and recreation areas. They may work with other professionals, such as civil engineers, construction project managers and urban planners. They may need to pursue continuing education to earn certifications in landscape architecture.
Construction Project Management
Architects are directly connected to the field of construction. While architects typically have been responsible for envisioning the design and function of homes, buildings or other spaces and infrastructure, they may also possess the skills to carry out that vision. Bringing that vision from concept to reality is the role of a construction project manager. In years past, construction project managers may have been skilled tradespeople with backgrounds in carpentry, masonry or other related areas. But now construction, engineering and design firms increasingly seek college-educated professionals with a related background to assume this lead project role. A construction project manager may negotiate contracts, manage budgets, coordinate with all project team members and communicate with clients.
Smart design and optimizing resources are among the responsibilities of an urban planner. As large metropolises address issues like suburban sprawl and as mid-sized cities plan for growth, professionals who understand the related economic, environmental, architectural and social issues are increasingly valuable. Many architects possess these skills. Urban planners work with government officials and community representatives, assess the regulatory environment, promote and administer plans and examine feasibility studies. While experienced architects may qualify for entry-level urban planning positions, they may need to pursue continuing education to earn related certifications or degrees to advance in the industry.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Number of Jobs Held, Labor Market Activity, And Earnings Growth Among the Youngest Baby Boomers: Results from a Longitudinal Survey
- The New York Times: Want a Job? Go to College and Don't Major in Architecture
- EMSI: Unemployment by College Major: The Dim Prospects for Architecture Grads, New and Old
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