Being an architect may seem like an outstanding job to hold for industry outsiders. However, not all students who graduated end up practicing architecture, at least not for the entirety of their professional lives.
Can architects branch out into other related fields such as engineering, real estate development, and construction?
They can, but some routes are more difficult than others.
As architecture is a profession with a deep skillset, you are reasonably equipped for many other related roles in the building industry, but not all are suitable.
Can Architects Be Contractors?
The architect-turn-contractor career switch is possible. But the overlap of skill sets and qualifications is marginal as architects are the building designers while the contractors implement the design.
These two things involve entirely different skill sets and qualifications, so a transition would not be easy.
Architects are suitably qualified to become contractors than other building industry outsiders simply because architects and contractors essentially work together on the same details – but wearing opposing hats. An architect would need a class-specific license from the local or state authorities to undertake construction projects as a company.
Can an Architect Be a Construction Manager?
If you fancy a career switch from an architect to a construction manager, you will have valuable insights and skills to benefit your new career in construction management.
It is the right foundation for you to run your own construction company eventually.
While architecture is a singularly focused design discipline, construction management involves more people skills and timely coordination of various building trades.
From the drawing board to construction, expect to expose yourself to and, more critically, manage many components that make up the entire building process, including safety compliances.
Architects who want to be construction managers will need a bachelor’s degree in related fields. The market standard includes a degree in architecture, engineering, or surveying. Alternatively, a degree or diploma in construction management or building science would be a more direct route. Practical experience in a construction-related discipline will be an advantage.
Can Architects Be Engineers?
Despite the many avenues for a career change as an architect, an engineering role may present some difficulty, but it is possible.
The architect’s license and qualifications are not directly transferable, and architects would need specific engineering licenses to become engineers. There are overlaps between architecture and engineering, so learning and acquiring the necessary qualifications would be relatively more straightforward for an architect than a building industry outsider.
This post on architecture vs. engineering details the differences between them.
Can an Architect Be a Structural Engineer?
In short: yes, it is possible, but not without training and gaining qualifications in structural engineering.
The relationship between architecture and structural engineering is significant, but with the distinction that architects design the building’s aesthetics, and the structural engineers calculate and resolve the durability, strength, and safety aspects of the building structure.
This job scope gives architects a significant advantage over unrelated professions, but the skills and qualifications are not directly transferable.
The necessary qualifications for an architect to be a structural engineer involve studying for a bachelor’s degree accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which typically takes 4 years. If you want to work in a teaching or research role, a postgraduate master’s engineering degree takes another 2 years.
Can an Architect Become a Civil Engineer?
Architects face similar difficulties taking on the civil engineer’s role. It is a massive time investment to work as a civil engineer, and more so if becoming a licensed engineer is the target.
Architects work closely with civil engineers as new buildings and structures require infrastructure provisions to function adequately. The knowledge transfer between architecture and civil engineering exists, but it is minimal.
Essentially, the professional architecture qualifications are not transferable, so formal education and training in civil engineering would be necessary.
An architect who wants to become a civil engineer requires a 4-year bachelor’s degree accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) (source). The person must pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam first, and work as an engineer for 4 years before taking the Professional Engineer (PE) exam to become a Licensed Engineer. The total minimum time investment is 8 years.
Can an Architect Be a Landscape Architect?
The planning of space and terrain that landscape architecture entails are not quite the same skill set as designing buildings, but the skills overlap somewhat.
The creative mind that architecture requires can readily adapt to other similarly creative jobs like landscape architecture.
There are many real-world examples of architects becoming landscape architects with no additional qualifications, but they are mostly confined to landscape designer roles.
Architects who want to become Licensed Landscape Architects will have to complete an accredited professional degree in landscape architecture, typically a 4-year program. A graduate degree in Landscape Architecture is optional. You will also need to pass the Registration Exam (source) and obtain a license from the Landscape Architects Board in your jurisdiction.
Can an Architect Be a Surveyor?
The in-depth knowledge of building codes and legislation and the ability to accurately spot (or survey) these regulations in real-world buildings makes surveyor roles too specialist for a direct transfer from an architecture role.
However, architects are aware of these codes and regulations, so will be at an advantage in gaining surveyor qualifications compared to an industry outsider.
The ideal route for an architect to become a surveyor is first earning a bachelor’s degree approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology in either surveying, mapping, or geomatics, followed by the Fundamentals of Surveying (FE) exam.
After 2 years of hands-on training, you need to take the Principles and Practice of Surveying exam, administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) (source).
Undertaking a state licensing board exam and continuing education courses to maintain your state license is a necessity.
Can Architects Become Real Estate Developers?
The career switch from architect to real estate developer has been increasing in recent years, but it still presents challenges.
Good business acumen and knowledge of market trends are necessary for real estate development; architecture schools do not teach these.
Although an architect designs real estate properties in response to market needs, the developer must be skilled in marketing them as the sales ultimately determine its bottom line.
That said, real estate development is essentially a business of building and selling a product – real estate. Marketing skills aside, architects are in the best position to become real estate developers due to their in-depth knowledge of designing and building real estate properties.
As a developer, you will also need to contract many different design consultants, trade specialists, and contractors to complete a project from start to finish – precisely the same set of people that architects work with as part of their job.
Real estate developers shall not be confused with real estate agents who broker the buying and selling of real estate properties. The agents sell the product but take no part in developing nor building it.
Can an Architect Be a Real Estate Agent?
Of the related professions in this post, transitioning from an architect to a real estate agent is possibly the least difficult.
A career switch from an architect to a real estate agent is viable. The architect’s sound knowledge in materials specification and real estate design is a significant advantage in closing deals. The process of becoming a licensed agent involves enrolling in a real estate course and passing the licensing exam in your state.
However, you may only be able to practice under the sponsorship of a real estate broker. It is a requirement that differs from state to state.
The list above covers related professions within the real estate industry.
But how about career opportunities for architects outside the industry?
Read to find out more!