5 Transferable Skills You Learn in Architecture School That Have Nothing To Do With Architecture

The goal of post-secondary education is to immerse yourself in a specific field of study.

Your resulting certificate, diploma or degree indicates the that you are now officially qualified to work in a particular area  – like architecture. But, the truth is, anyone who has gone through this process knows it’s really the transferable skills they’ve learned that will guide them forward.

Certainly, a doctor or nurse must know about human anatomy, but they also need to know how to make quick decisions in the midst of stressful situations.

As for the world of design, the best architects know the ins and outs of the history of architecture, but they can also envision the future – thanks to transferable skills such as the ability to think outside the box.


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Here are five more highly transferable skills acquired while studying architecture.


Problem Solving


Problem Solving_Lenmak


Architects and other design professionals are taught from day one to examine a problem – from all angles – both literally and metaphorically .

Not only is this skill important in itself, but it’s also an umbrella for a whole set of skills. Problem-solving involves researching options, comparing choices to past and existing precedents and making thoughtful decisions.

Most importantly, it requires an open and innovative mind, one that doesn’t stop at the simplest solution unless it also happens to be the best one.


Presentational Skills


Presentational Skills

What use is a great idea if you can’t properly explain it to others?

Showcasing anything from a design to a new piece of equipment to a work of art all takes presentational skills. Not only does this mean becoming comfortable speaking in front of others – something you do a lot in architecture school – but it also means believing in yourself and your idea.

This means taking the passion that led you to an idea and channeling it into an effective and moving presentation.




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Taking Criticism


Taking Critisism

As you make your way through your education, you’ll quickly learn that you won’t get an A on every project, and not every professor is going to love your work – and that’s okay.

In fact, it’s normal.

Most comments that might be perceived as “negative” about your work aren’t really negative at all – they’re suggestions on how you can improve and ultimately become a better student and architect. The more you embrace criticism as constructive, the easier it will be to tackle the “real world” and the criticism you will face there as well.

Ideas and designs are always changing, and ultimately you’ll be sent back to the drawing board more than once. 

Much of the time, criticism comes from those who are there to help you learn who see your work as something worth lending their opinion to help you improve. That being said, there’s a difference between respectfully listening to a constructive critique and letting someone walk all over you.

Having the confidence to both listen quietly and speak up when necessary is a two-sided skill that will serve anyone in any field.


Relationship Building


 Relationship Building

It’s no secret that architecture school involves more than a few group projects, discussions and collaborations with peers that you don’t know that well. Frustration and annoyance are only two of the many emotions you’ve more than likely felt when one group member doesn’t pull their weight or doesn’t listen to the group’s opinions – we’ve all been there.

Look at these situations as training rather than an inconvenience. You’re always going to have to work with people you might not get along with or agree with. Having to build and maintain positive relationships with other people doesn’t end once you graduate.

Embracing the chance to work with others in school, and actually committing to making those relationships work for the sake of your joint project or end goal helps give you the lifelong skill of relationship building.

Aside from how your connections can benefit you, it’s also worth considering how a connection to you can benefit others. With business and design heading in a much more collaborative direction, the ability to become an integral member of a community is an essential skill.


Breaking The Rules


 Breaking the Rules

There’s nothing easier than falling into the “cookie cutter” stencil of what is expected of you as you go through school.

It’s true – professors like when you conform to their rules, but many like it even more when you go above and beyond what they expect, and deliver them something a little more radical or out of the box than they were expecting.

“Breaking the Rules 101” isn’t a course students of architecture are required to take, but maybe it should be. In design, there is rarely one answer. And, if you’re determined to find it, you’re likely to miss out on all the other potential solutions.

School is your chance to think critically and come up with new and interesting ideas that you can bring to your job outside of the classroom. Master the rules, but don’t be afraid to test the waters with something new.

For those who have a hard time going against what is expected of them, remember – breaking the rules isn’t about eschewing the status quo just for the sake of it. It’s about asking “why”? And then asking it again, until you are satisfied with the answer.


From Great Architects to Great Leaders

With those already involved in Canadian architecture launching innovative projects every day, our country needs to continue to produce individuals that are just as forward thinking. And while those graduating with brand new architectural degrees and brand new design ideas will possess all the necessary skills to be great architects, the most important skills they’ll bring with them are the ones that will help them become great leaders.

These are the skills that are transferable and far-reaching, because the best careers aren’t the ones that follow a straightforward path. Instead, they branch off in infinite directions – infinite pathways.

Which one will you take?

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