Architecting a stress-free career

Some worrying news came out this month that more than a quarter of architecture students in the UK are either receiving or have received psychological help for problems related to their course, whilst a further quarter feel they may have to seek help in the future, according to The Guardian.

Anxiety over the student debts accrued over the seven-year course, severe workloads that frequently require all-nighters, poor-value courses, discrimination and practices that demand they work for free were all identified by the undergraduates as the primary sources of stress as part of the survey conducted by the Architects’ Journal.

The fall-out as reported by the students included a range of issues - from hair loss to apparent suicide. And with almost a third reporting that they had been asked to work in practice for free – despite accumulating debts of over £30,000 by the end of the course – it would seem that much of the problem is a financial one.

“It's not such a surprise”, owner of Noam Hazan Design Studio, Noam Hazan, tells us. “The pressure of architecture school is immense. I used to do one to two all-nighters a week and didn't have time for a part time job or to socialise. I’m not sure if this still happens but some tutors used to tear up models you would have spent weeks on!”

Vice chancellor at Buckingham University and mental-health campaigner, Anthony Seldon, was reported as saying that “Britain has a near epidemic of mental health problems among its students. Those studying architecture appear to be under added burdens, emanating perhaps from the very length of the course and time taken before earning a proper income.

“Much could be done to rethink the courses so they align with the architectural education needs of the future rather than the dictates of the architectural big cheeses of the past.”

President of the Royal Institute of British Architecture, Jane Duncan, told the Guardian that she is “concerned that the combination of tuition fees, rising student debt and the necessity for many students to take on paid work outside study can trigger or exacerbate mental health problems.”

Of course, it is not all bleak. There are a number of things that, as an architect, you should be aware of. With a whole range of financial products, you can be helped on your way as you embark on your journey. Perhaps not surprisingly, the very nature of being an architect – coupled with the aforementioned difficulties of working for someone else - means many graduates choose to practice what they preach and actually construct their own practice on completing their course.

“I set up my own company for a few reasons”, Noam tells us. “The starting salary is pretty low in comparison to other professions, it takes a while to make good money, I wasn't learning anything in a big firm and I wanted to use my people and entrepreneurial skills which is hard in a big firm.”

Realistically, however, setting up your own practice is not for everyone, yet you can also take out a personal loan which should help ease the financial burden that so often comes with doing what you love. After all, if you will it, it is no dream.

We can help you – really! Find out more here

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