What to Expect as a Junior Architect

To each his own with their experiences but there will definitely be some similarities when you start to ask questions around. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing with you about my experiences together with what others have told me about theirs, which hopefully will help you grasp what it’s like to be a Junior Architect. This especially if you’re just a starting one. 

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In the Philippines, before you can take the licensure exam for architecture, you’re going to need to have at least 2 years of experience which you will be recording in your architecture logbook. Your experience will most likely vary depending on whether you’ll be working in a small firm or in corporate, and in the province or in the city.

Related: Choosing the Right Architecture Firm For You

Scope of Experiences

Small Firms

As of writing, I’ve already been a junior architect for nine months and have experienced working in both a small firm, and corporate. The small design-build firm I’ve worked in was located in a province whilst I’m currently working a corporate job in the city.

When it comes to the scope of the work, it was definitely broader when I was in a small firm for obvious reasons. The smaller the team, the larger the amount of work you get to have. This means more experience for you. With regards to my experience, I’d say it was wholesome as I got to work starting from design conceptualization all the way up to construction of the project.

We were always told that it’s better to work in smaller firms for the experience required before board exams. That was what I kept in mind when I was looking for my first job but there are things you get to learn as you go.

Listening to what others have experienced, it’s not always great as some workplaces are toxic. With the small number of people working, you may tend to get overworked while being underpaid. You could get minimum wage, but the salary isn’t always in proportion to the workload given.

Big Firms

Having worked with 8 people everyday for five months, I think my extrovertedness looked forward to getting back in the city where I’d be surrounded by a ton of people I don’t know. However, the con to working in a corporation is that if you’re looking for a broad experience, you probably won’t get it here.

My current work tasks are quite similar on a daily basis as opposed to when I was in a small firm, but what I like about my current job is that I’m learning things I did not learn at university. I can’t tell you how much of an impact it would have when you take the licensure exam but for sure, there are people who have only worked in a corporation but still passed.

With both experiences, I’ve realized that there are things I would only learn in a small firm, and things I would only learn in a big firm. It’s up to us what we’d make of them.

Related: How to Apply to Different Architecture Firms

Salary

Salaries vary greatly depending on the company you’ll be working in. What I realized late however, is that the rates change depending on where you work. If you work in a province, the rate will most probably differ from the rate in the city.

When applying for a job, the range for their offered salary is normally posted. If it’s not, they would probably ask you what your rate is and see if it will match with theirs. I was advised to give a range and not a specific amount when it comes to this, but always make sure you know what your worth is.

The lowest salary I have heard of is from Php 8000 – 9000 (yes, below minimum wage), whilst the highest I have heard of is around Php 17000, for an entry level. Only you would know the right amount you ought to be earning based on your skills and experiences. I always think that negotiation is a skill, and job applications are like a business. It matters to know what you can offer to the table, and how much value that would have.

Spare Time

Can you have a balanced life being a junior architect? This would depend on a lot of things. One, your priorities, two, your location and transportation, three, your workload. 

If you want time for family and loved ones, then you really gotta make time for that regardless if it comes with some other sacrifice. If you need time for yourself, you don’t need to feel guilty detaching from other things as well. It is harder, however, when you fail to consider the amount of time to get to work or home as traffic steals time away from you. Also, it is harder to foresee whether a firm will be overworking you.

Some people stay in dorms or get their own apartments to live closer to where they work. If this is within your budget, that could be an option to use that supposed longer transportation time for other things.

It’s not healthy to be overworked as well. Good thing my friends knew when to quit. I understand that not everybody has that luxury, but if you do have that option, you may want to find a healthier environment, if you can’t talk to your boss or superior about it.

Related: What Lifestyle to Expect in Architecture School

Someone told me that university was only like 30% of what we needed to know, and I’d agree. There are a lot of things in the working world that were not taught in school. If you’re an incoming junior architect, I’d say it’s an exciting experience, but mistakes may be made and the learning continues.

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