Questions and answers: wanting to become an architect

Question: Is the subject you are studying the job you want to do or do you need to learn anything else to get a dream job?

(Original question in Estonian: Kas eriala, mida õpid, on see töö, mida teha soovid või tuleks midagi veel õppida unistuste töö saamiseks?)

Short answer is: no, quantity surveying is not my dream job. I would like to be an architect, and in order to become one, I would need to study architecture.

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But the long answer is this.

I've actually been interested in architecture for a long time. I even considered applying for a scholarship to study architecture straight out of high school, but for several reasons I ended up studying law instead - and it quickly became obvious that I realllllllly wasn't interested in law.

Then for about 6 years I sort of "floated about", doing random jobs in random places, finishing my law degree, until in my mid-20's I recognised that... I wanted to get back to architecture. I had a reckoning that mid-20's was way too early to have given up.

By that point, I was already living in New Zealand, had one child and another on the way. Re-training to become an architect in New Zealand - in these circumstances - was too hard. For one, there was no architecture school on the South Island - architecture degrees are only taught in Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North. It was too expensive to move: we were working hard to buy our first home, so I didn't want to move to an exorbitantly expensive city to put me through an expensive 5-year-degree. And it was simply not fair - not on my kids, not on my husband, and not on me, to do that at that time. Quantity surveying emerged as a doable, close-enough, good-enough alternative option to architecture. 

Most importantly, quantity surveying was and still is a skill shortage in New Zealand. There is a sustained, country-wide shortage of skilled construction cost managers. It gives me confidence that, once I have some work experience, I'll be able to do meaningful, well-paying work for a long time. I could've taken up study in architectural technology instead (it's a 2-year diploma which gives skills to do basic architectural drafting and is taught in most places in New Zealand) and it would've got me closer to architecture... it would've also meant entering a job market with more competition and less pay.

By the way, I keep on writing "I", but I really do mean "we" - most of these decision are made jointly with my husband. We function as a tight family unit - financially, practically - and depend on each other in most aspects of our lives. At the moment, he earns bulk of our income and I do bulk of our everyday tasks. Putting me through a study affects all of our lives, so the decision to do so has to be made jointly, too.

Because one of our short-term life goals is for me and my husband to switch roles again - something we did very happily in Wanaka, whereby I was working and he was the stay-at-home parent - then job market and potential pay is a very important aspect of choosing what to study. Quantity surveying allows us more life balance, I guess, in a sense that it gets me close enough to construction whilst allowing us the resources to do other things that are important - to renovate the house, to spend more time with kids.

Hopefully, if all goes well, I may take up architecture at a later stage in my life, when my kids are older and more independent. I am even undecided whether to take up studying architectural technology now, part-time, slowly. Because quantity surveying and architectural technology overlap so much in their content, I would only need to complete about 50% of the diploma to be qualified as an architectural technician and have the skills I need to do stuff.

But... it takes time. And after 3 years of concerted effort to get this quantity surveying diploma, me spending time at the computer in the evenings to study, Saturdays at school to get quiet time to study, we all kind of want to just... have some time off. To just be able to live for a while. Because, once kids are involved, doing just about anything becomes hard, and getting through school these last 3 years has been hard.

And we all want to have a break from hard.

1 comment:

  1. Väga hea lugemine - aitäh!
    Ja ma mõistan väga hästi seda perele pühendumise ja pausi tahtmise kohta. Mul on tänaseks päevaks vastupidi - tahaks doktorantuuri, aga paus on olnud pikk ja ei julge.
    Ma olen sageli naljaga mõelnud, et vanuses 20-40 peaks inimene endale elama ja sealt edasi lapsi saama :D sest pärast 40-nt valdav enamus inimesi muutub, hindab kodus olemist ja kodust elu rohkem. Loodus aga tahab, et noor täiskasvanu kogu oma energia lastele pühendaks. Pühendame ka, aga hing ihkab ju midagi veel :P Laste arvelt minu hing seda teha ei luba, seega oleme natuke nagu lõksus, kuniks iseseisvuvad.

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