My job outlook for architecture
A recent revelation sparked discussions about architects’ value within the industry…
This revelation challenges the conventional narrative. The growth in the construction sector contrasts with a reduction in available architecture jobs.
I recently came across two statistics on Architecture Jobs that surprised me:
- There has been a 12% increase in total construction across 2021 compared to 2020. (Dodge Data)
- At the same time, employment of architects is projected to grow 3 percent from 2021 to 2031, at least 50% slower than the average for all occupations. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The reality that architecture jobs are not keeping pace with robust growth seems counter intuitive. It’s confusing to see more construction, but fewer job prospects for designers working on these projects.
Correlation ≠ Causation
After some thought, I’ve come to an optimistically cautious perspective that challenges this seemingly negative data point.
As an architect, a large part of my role within a company is implementing new technologies to enhance productivity. The adoption of tools and refined workflows allows us to use our time more efficiently. BIM (building information modeling), templates, and automations reduce time for administrative or repetitive tasks. It’s possible that new tools and tech enable us to accomplish more for our clients within the same time frame or less.
There are also tools that might replace certain design stages. We are seeing multiple tech-enabled solutions jumping into the market. Tools that directly empower owners to play a more active role in the design process. For instance, in Layer users can collaborate on reviews or markups directly with the project owner through a smartphone app.
Such tools will reduce the demand for traditional design services. What does this mean for the demand for architects? The takeaway here is we must adapt to technological shifts and remain receptive to innovation. We need to see new tech as another tool in our toolkit. Architects and designers are often the creators behind such tools. Pivoting away from traditional design services into software, folks in the industry are capitalizing on opportunities to build tools for other architects and designers.
When it comes to recruiting, it’s evident that the cautious post-pandemic approach of architecture firms contributes to the changing job landscape. The pandemic led to terminated or slowed down projects. As a result, firms laid off or furloughed staff. Rapid hiring is no longer a strategy firms employ when they land a large project. Instead, most organizations are taking a cautious approach to headcount growth.
Reflecting on these insights, it’s obvious that the architecture industry stands at a pivotal juncture. Rather than viewing the job outlook for architecture as a cause for concern, they might signify a period of transformation and growth. This is not new, simply look to the adoption of computer aided design as a replacement for the traditional drafting process.
Embracing technological advancements, fostering agility, and cultivating an openness to change could prove to be the compass that guides us through this evolving landscape. In a world that values efficiency and ingenuity, architects have an opportunity to recalibrate their value proposition while harnessing new technology. This synthesis of creativity and cutting-edge tools holds the key to shaping the future of architecture in an ever-changing world.
So if you’re on the fence about joining the industry, should you pursue a job in architecture? Absolutely! Just understand that your career path and career development will go beyond designing buildings. It will include designing workflows and using new tools and tech to enhance how we design not just what we design.
Job descriptions at architecture firms will undoubtedly change. The designer experience will reflect a closer symbiotic relationship with building owners and clients. Firm leaders and human resources will adjust job titles. Your degree in architecture is just the starting point of your career in the AEC industry!