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Should You Become an Architect AFTER 30?

When is it TOO LATE to change your career?

This is a question many people ask, and it can be a scary one. Often it's a question that goes unanswered and festers subconsciously when you don't make a change. I've even had this thought! So, when someone DMed me on Instagram and asked me this exact thing, I knew we needed to chat about it.

FIRST, A very important message Before we dive into today's episode!

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the DM I received

Hey there—I realize I may have a low chance of getting a reply here, but figured it’s worth a shot. I recently listened to your podcast episode on architecture school and would love some insight and advice if you can spare it.

I’m currently a director of product marketing for [omitted], a leading tech company based in [omitted]. I got my bachelor degree in Finance and went on to get an MBA in marketing from [omitted]. I’ve been in my current role for 5 years.

Sounds great, right? The problem is I feel stuck in a “great career” that I’m not passionate about, and I’m filled with regrets for not pursuing my passion for architecture.

For years I’ve been telling myself to stop complaining. I’m 35 and have a great salary and a stable career, a nice house, and a wife and two kids and dog. But the message from this quote keeps eating away at me: “The most dangerous risk of all is the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”

So I could use some advice:

  1. Is it crazy to consider throwing away a good career at age 35 to pursue architecture?

  2. If I were to make that leap, how would you recommend I get started? Standard architecture school, online courses, accelerated programs, etc.?

My Response

Hi [omitted],

Thanks so much for reaching out and your honesty! Not feeling fulfilled in your career is one of the hardest things to deal with. Especially when it’s time consuming (and expensive) to make a change. What you’re talking about doing feels risky because you have a family and worked hard to get to where you are.

But I believe life is about change and growth, which sometimes means trying something new. I see too as we get older and have been doing the same thing for years we start to worry we’re out of time or there’s no turning back.

I would say not to tell yourself to stop complaining. Even if you push it down, it’ll always be there and it will creep up in weird unexpected ways. I’d also say don’t just drop what you have going right now without a plan. Having a good career that is stable, allows you to start working on other things on the side to see if it’s really want you want to do.

Becoming an architect is a long journey but not impossible to start at any age. I had people ranging from 22-50 in my graduate class. Since you have a masters, you could do a 2 year architecture program, which is only 2 years of your life! With that said, a background in marketing and finance allows you to work for an architecture firm now if you’re interested. That might be a great way to be in the industry and decide if it’s really what you want to do.

They say most architects aren’t great until they’re 50+, so in this industry you’re still a baby haha you have plenty of time! If it’s something you know you’ll always regret, I say go for it! If it’s something you’re unsure about and on the fence, I’d say get your feet wet with working on the side for a small firm architect who needs help with marketing and/or finance or even take a class at your local community college. A lot of community colleges have drafting classes, so this could ease you into it to see if you love it, without having to change your current job.

I guess the answer isn’t so black and white. It’s always hard to make the decision to pivot in life. Make sure whatever you choose, you be open and honest with your family so they can be supportive.

And ask yourself: What’s important to you, what brings you happiness, how will your life change if you go for it, and what feels right? Your gut probably already knows.

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