Architects design the commercial buildings in which we work and the residential buildings in which we live. Though the occupation has many benefits, architects face certain disadvantages because of the unpredictability of their work schedule and the up-and-down nature of the national economy. Additionally, architects may not work independently until a few years after they graduate college.
Architects often work long hours to complete building project plans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 20 percent of architects in 2008 worked 50 hours or more per week. Additionally, because building construction often occurs on weekends, architects may work beyond the typical Monday-to-Friday work week. Architects must sometimes visit construction projects to oversee the building progress, which involves travel.
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Architects must coordinate design and construction plans with a number of other departments before the plans are finalized. This coordination involves urban planners, city engineers, building engineers, interior designers, landscape architects and any others involved with the building process. If an architect wants to make a change to her design, she must inform every other department to see if the changes fit the limitations of the project. Similarly, the city engineers or other departments may request changes from the architect to fit their own project plans.
Architects are at the mercy of the national economy when it comes to their job security. Building construction typically occurs when the national economy is healthy and booming. Recessions halt new building construction and reduce the demand for architects to design new structures. For example, if a corporation wants to build and design a new luxury condominium, but the housing market shows little need for new living spaces, the corporation will wait to hire an architect.
The educational, training and certification requirements to be an architect are extensive, and may be cost prohibitive to some individuals. For example, architects typically require a bachelor's degree that takes approximately five years to complete. Additionally, if architects want to increase their potential annual salary, they may need to complete graduate school. After school, architects usually intern with an employer and train in their profession, sometimes for little to no pay.