What they don’t teach you in architecture school.

1. Scale of projects

  • real: takes years and year vs. school: projects are in one semester. - that has two big impacts.

    • Day to day is spent in one phase of a project. Many of those days, you may not be doing design work.
    • You might get put on DD or CA for the next couple of months. in school, you have a month to research, a LOT of time to design, and a month to present.
    • IRL, you will be a part of a team, doing one aspect of a very large of the project. vs. independent work

2. Complexity of projects

  • Buildings are complex. Working with engineers and the City is a critical part of the project.
  • A big part of your job is coordinating with the engineers, checking their drawings, making sure they work with the overall concept.

3. Real life Constraints

  • You don't choose the program. Program is given to you. You can go as far as choosing the firm that does a particular type of projects.
  • It's all about budget. Most projects have a specific budget and time you need to work with. You may have to value engineer as you go, and adjust your design to meet the budget.
  • You have clients who will cut ideas, MOSTLY on budget concerns

4. Career (Specialization)

  • Because buildings are so complex, it most of us in this field choose a specialization.
  • You can specialize in a building type: residential, commercial, renovation, passive house, swimming pools, community centers, etc.
  • You can specialize in a particular role: project management, detailing, construction admin, spec writing, rendering, design, etc

4. Career (Working for a firm vs. Working for yourself)

  • Two very different paths
  • To work for yourself:

    • you better find a niche and be a business person, not just an architect (you should enjoy doing marketing, admin, and legal stuff)
    • you control what you do, but may not necessarily get to do the variety and cool projects as working in a firm
  • To work for a firm:

    • build up skills that are valuable to a firm, which can be all of those mentioned above, esp. if you can bring in clients, that's the best
    • in the end, try to fit into skillsets required by the firm, which is a business
    • more collaborative, bigger and more interesting projects
    • most larger, municipal projects will be in a firm
    • If you don't want to do business and focus on what you're good at, this is a good path for you
  • Work for a Starchitect

    • You get to be involved in work that you learn about in schools, see in magazines
    • lots of them, is run on slave labour, because students are willing to work for very little

5. Licensure

  • To get licensed in Canada, you need 3700 hours of work
  • In a lot of cases, it is difficult to hit all those hours, especially in a big firm
  • Sometimes you might have to switch firms to get those hours
  • In Canada, we have the ExACs, which happen once a year in November. In the US, there's the AREs, which happen multiple times throughout the year.

    • ExACs are divided into five sections:

      • Section 1 - Programming - Site and Environmental Analysis - Coordinating Engineering Systems - Cost Management - Schematic Design - Design Development
      • Section 2 - Code Research (test of speed!!)
      • Section 3 - Final Project
      • Section 4 - Bidding and Contract Negotiations - Construction Phase – Office - Construction Phase – Site - Project Management
    • AREs are divided into similar sections
  • There are people who will tell you it's not worth to get licensed but that has not been my experience.

    • You bring much more value as a licensed architect,
    • Your firm can charge out more for your services
    • You learn much more, just by sitting down and studying them
    • It will make you a better architect.

6. Money

  • You will not make as much money as someone who just came out of a six year degree, like a lawyer
  • This is because firms still need to train you to be a real life working architect
  • Schools don't train you for that
  • To increase your starting pay, you can do summer jobs or work during co op
  • Strategize early on in your career

    • get your license as soon as possible

      • You will most likely will get raise
      • Getting your license helps you understand all phases of project
      • You can bring more value

Rachael Sarah George

2 years ago

Hi, I'm currently in high school in India and plan on working in the UK.
What all should I be doing right now, because I've got neighbors with an architectural and interior design firm willing to teach me in 11th grade in the form of an internship of sorts, and they are like literally the only architects I've been talking to as of yet.
What would be most beneficial? What can I do before architecture school to get in ?
Can I get a double qualification for interior design as well? Is Architecture a growing Career?
I would love to get in touch with you. Please do let me know.
- Rachael George


1 year ago

Of course Architecture a growing Career... She is saying that if u want to be good @it then don't like some other architect be unique and have your own vision n the work 4it... u should probably run business as a compliment related to ARCH.


2 years ago

Thank you for sharing it journey

Doing Business Differently.

1 year ago


We are a business-improvement consulting brand that has been doing land use and building layouts unofficially. Now, we are considering going into the construction industry. So, architecture is key, together with quantity surveying and construction. So, thank you for sharing this.


10 months ago

Hello Dami,

I loved the video so much.!
I was also simultaneously making the notes...

Just realized the numbering in this article is wrong...
There should be total 7. Headings whereas there are only 6.

Point 4 is repeating....

Great Content.!

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