Big jobs that pay badly

“How do you become a millionaire in Architecture?”

“Start with ten million.”

It’s an old joke but notoriously true. And now we have proof.

Accourding to an article on Architecture is one career that costs time and money to take up but doesn’t equate to a big paycheck.

For every Philip Johnson or Frank Lloyd Wright in a generation of architects, there are countless more who work without fanfare on the everyday buildings where we work, live and shop.

Architects may spend up to seven years completing undergraduate and master’s-degree studies, or up to three-and-a-half years in a master’s program if they majored in another area during college. To be eligible to take the licensing exam, they also must log three years as interns working for licensed architects.

Architects with a master’s might enter the work force with between $50,000 and $80,000 in student loan debt. But as first-year interns, they might earn only $34,000, the national median according to the 2005 compensation survey by the American Institute of Architects. Meanwhile, several steps up the ladder, senior architects earn a median of $68,900.

Keep this in mind if you’re thinking about a career in architecture. Not only is the pay disproportionate to the cost of schooling but the schooling itself can be quite grueling¹. One semester I was taking 17 units which typically equates 17 hours of class time. Because of the program I was in, my 17 units required 25 hours in class. Add to that, the time to study for a regular schedule, plus all free time being devoted to my architectural project, plus working 24-30 hours a week at a regular job, and that equals OTA (one tired archshrk).

Of course I don’t plan to give it up. After all, it’s what I love but the myth of the wealthy architect must stem from the fact that the only people who could afford to practice started out wealthy.

¹ Do you like my little rhyme? I wanted to change it to sound more professional but I couldn’t think of a better sentance, so there you go.

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