Each year studies are released that rank certain majors as more beneficial than others. The ones usually at the top include engineering or majors in the STEM family.
The ones on the other side of the spectrum, however, tend to be majors like photography, philosophy or religious studies.
But recently, an atypical major has been found at the bottom alongside journalism and hospitality sciences: architecture.
According to the Daily Beast, architecture is one of the most “useless” college majors someone can take. They base their rankings and accompanying salary and employment data off of a study by Georgetown University and information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Unemployment for recent grads is at 13.9%, and for experienced grads it is at 9.2%. Recent grads who are employed make around $36,000 a year, with experienced grads making about $64,000, according the website.
“For kids coming out of school, it’s a struggle (to find employment) because there are a lot of firms that are entrenched with the number of people they have and they are not looking to grow,” said Aaron West an architect at FOCUS: Architecture + Design, in Arlington, Va.
West, a former Penn State professor, said that while employment numbers may be dismal, architecture school can teach students valuable lessons that can be applied elsewhere.
“I think it’s a good profession in that it forces you to kind of learn a lot of different things that you can take into the world and marketplace that aren’t necessarily in architecture,” said West. “It’s a tough program, generally, but it’s a rewarding program.”
For students pursuing a career in architecture, the process can take years. Between a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, a three-year apprenticeship program and final exams, the entire process can take nine years, said Tony Threatt, a Ph.D. student at Clemson University studying architectural robotics.
Threatt also points to the economy as a factor for why people are turned off with architecture.
“The unemployment rate is huge; basically architecture goes as the stock market goes. . . if there is no building going on, then architecture is immediately impacted,” said Threatt.
But Threatt says that architecture offers students a number of opportunities to work in other fields. Threatt personally knows people who studied architecture, yet work in the interior design, industrial engineering, consulting, lobbying and even writing industries. With just one more year to go in his four-year Ph.D program, Threatt himself is considering whether to become a professor or a consultant.
There is a silver lining for architecture students though – according to the Daily Beast, the projected growth for architecture between 2010 and 2020 is at 24%.
For West, he fully expects that the economy will rebound, and that architecture jobs will increase with it.
“Right now, a lot of firms are just working with what they’ve got, waiting for that time when the number of projects that are coming in increase, where the amount of revenue increases… where you have the ability to hire,” said West. “Unfortunately, right now it is just kind of a waiting game.”
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