I proudly hold two degrees in Architecture. I spent 7 years of my life (and a huge sum of money) to earn these degrees and build a professional reputation in the construction and manufacturing industries.
You know what is incredibly sad? When I now say that I’m trained as an “architect” to many professionals, I have to qualify it as “you know…bricks and mortar…buildings and spaces…that kind of architect…”
In school and in practice, Architects are taught valuable core skills. Analyzing complex, ambiguous situations; intuiting and understanding various stakeholder interests; synthesizing a mix of practical, emotional, and physical realities; proposing new futures and relentlessly testing those proposals in a variety of media and presentation formats. These are valuable skills throughout both the commercial and private spheres, which is why the title of “ARCHITECT” becomes so attractive to so many other professions.
So I’m utterly frustrated that the tech industry has effectively stolen the career designation “Architect” for its own purposes, devaluing the profession of Architecture that has shaped human existence for thousands of years. If you search on places like LinkedIn or other job sites for “architect” or even the more specific “architectural designer” you get a list of dozens of IT-focused project management jobs. You’re lucky to find any actual jobs for an ARCHITECT. But most sadly, almost all of these new “digital” jobs won’t even consider candidates trained really in ARCHITECTURE for those roles. I guess if you don’t know 6 arcane programming languages, the rest of your skill set is useless?
Our profession needs to stand up and reclaim our very title. I doubt other professionals would stand for this outright theft. Think Google could get away with posting job titles like “Data Surgeon” or “A.I. Attorney”??? How fast do you think those well-paid professionals would create an uproar?
In many regions around the world, one cannot legally practice the profession of Architecture, nor call themselves by the professional title of Architect, without going through a strenuous professional examination and registration process, on top of extensive higher education. So here is my purposefully inflammatory idea: The AIA and the RIBA should pick a very public fight and sue a few of the largest tech companies for posting jobs with the mal-appropriated professional title ARCHITECT. It doesn’t even matter if the lawsuits have any merit: The sensation caused by simply launching the suits should put the tech industry on notice to stop stealing our professional title, plus raise public awareness of the continued value of Architects to society.
We need to drive more awareness of the valuable skills students learn during Architectural degree programs. Master of Architecture degree recipients should not expect half the starting salary of MBA or software-focused degrees. The academic world of Architecture needs to stop its obsession with aesthetic design theory, realize the broader value of its professional skills and fight to protect its reputation.