Alternative Career Choices for Architects: An Overview of Options

Degrees in architecture typically cover design and building planning. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about alternative career options, job growth and salary info for architecture graduates.

Essential Information

People trained as architects can choose other career paths related to their skills. Creativity is a prime trait needed to be a successful architect, as well as skills in drawing and designing, and communication with other designers and builders. Architects need to possess a Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture or Doctor of Architecture degree from a professional program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (, but may pursue different career paths and apply those architecture-related skills to other disciplines.

Career Construction Manager Urban Planner Graphic Designer
Education Requirements Bachelor's Degree Master's Degree Bachelor's Degree
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 16%* 10%* 7%*
Median Salary (2014) $85,630 annually* $66,940 annually* $45,900 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

The training acquired through an architecture-based education can be applied to a number of different non-architecture based job titles. Some career choices include construction manager, urban planner and graphic designer, which are detailed below.

Construction Manager

Construction managers read and understand the design plans of a building, and they determine which construction materials would be the best and most cost-efficient to use. They also oversee the hiring of general contractors used to complete a project's specific aspects, like painting or plumbing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that construction managers also acquire the necessary permits and documentation for their site ( Several managers may work together on large construction projects, overseeing different aspects of them.

While architects aren't always involved in the construction portion of a building's creation, they frequently come in contact with construction managers to help keep projects running on time and on budget. An architect's ability to understand complex building plans is a key part of the job. Architects also have knowledge of building materials and how their strength and durability can be most efficiently used in construction.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS predicts that the number of construction manager jobs will increase 16% from 2012-2022, which is faster than average. The agency reported that the median salary for this career was $85,630 in 2014.

Urban Planner

Urban planners use their knowledge of design and construction to effectively develop areas for residential, commercial and social use. Their job entails studying the current land use and preparing reports about it, covering such things as local population growth and resource availability. This process helps ensure their plans are presently viable and sustainable for years to come. Part of this gets accomplished by meeting with local councils and citizens' groups to hear their suggestions about what a community needs.

According to the BLS, urban planners often specialize on one aspect of the job, such as transportation, urban development or land-use enforcement. However, the demands of the job require them to be aware of how their individual project will affect a community as a whole. The position demands that a planner be aware of how to maximize a particular space, which is something an architect's sense of design might help with. Additionally, a creative architect can create a structure that has long-lasting functional and aesthetic sensibilities.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, urban planners can look forward to a 10% employment growth rate from 2012-2022. The median salary for this job was $66,940 in 2014, per the BLS.

Graphic Designer

By implementing artistic and creative skills - including drawing, layout and photography - a graphic designer uses visuals to communicate a verbal idea. Graphic designers often play key roles in the advertising process by creating images used to help consumers identify and remember a particular product. The job does allow for a range of creativity, but most projects begin with a designer consulting with a client about what the image should portray. Usually throughout the process, designers work closely with clients by showing them various drafts until they're satisfied with the finished product.

Graphic designers can work alone, but many times, they may oversee or work with a team of designers. A job as a graphic designer offers a way to use the drawing abilities and creativity that architectural training develops. The position also utilizes an architect's ability to work as part of a team to satisfy a client's wishes.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Graphic designer jobs are expected to increase 7% from 2012-2022, per the BLS. In 2014, graphic designers earned a median salary of $45,900.

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