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#1 toxicvoxel  Icon User is offline

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Advice Needed - Switching Careers in a Down Economy

Post icon  Posted 07 January 2009 - 02:01 PM

I am an architect (the type that designs buildings!) with more than ten 15 years experience in my industry. When things are good it's a fantastic job but every ten years or so when the downturn comes it devastates the whole industry. The last time this happened I made a decision to get rid of my financial obligations and living debt free for a decade has been an immensely liberating experience. So 2009 comes around, credit crunch and I find I'm still not immune to the situation. So here the thing: I'm seriously thinking about sitting things out this year and getting a qualification in programming so that I have an alternative in the downswing. The question is what should I go for?

For those that think this bloke has lost the plot you may be right, but let me just say in my defence that I have actually done quite a few man-years of vb.net and other API programming in the architectural context writing software for various applications eg. automated stadium design, construction simulation and all kinds of glueing together disparate CAD, design and graphics apps. (I would be very defensive in showing anybody sample code but it gets the work done!) The point is I have a fairly good idea of how this kind of stuff works but I know that this will be inadequate to be considered outside the architectural environment.

So help me out here gents. I can invest 12 months and spend some money but I need to lay some foundation in that time. Is MSCAD the way to go or are there better alternatives?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

This post has been edited by toxicvoxel: 07 January 2009 - 03:42 PM


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Replies To: Advice Needed - Switching Careers in a Down Economy

#2 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Advice Needed - Switching Careers in a Down Economy

Posted 07 January 2009 - 03:22 PM

This is definitely a tough decision to make, and I can sympathize since my dad and cousin are co-owners of an electrical supply wholesale company (the family business), and they're hurting and seeing contractors folding. However, although you may have a remarkable CAD program, remember that people may not use it. They'd want to stick with their original CAD software unless they had a really good reason to spend money on yours.

Depending on how well versed VB.NET, you may want to go into a field in education temporarily. It is more recession-proof than architecture, though you will make less in education than in architecture during a good economy. You could always teach at a high school offering an introductory programming course. Just make sure its in VB.NET, and not some other language you are unwilling to really learn. To make my point, I have a Java programming teacher (the class is supposed to prepare us for AP Computer Science next year) who knows (or at least claims he knows) VB. He does an adequate job of teaching us Java syntax, but not logic/problem solving. I taught myself most of what we're learning this year, so I'm fine. My point is: make sure you not only know the target language very well, but are able to teach it and logic.

Hope this helps and good luck.
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#3 nirvanarupali  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice Needed - Switching Careers in a Down Economy

Posted 07 January 2009 - 05:01 PM

I am an architecture graduate too, but I am not licensed. I was working in one of the big architectural firms in my place. When I noticed that building construction is going worse I shifted my career to furniture and interior design, although it is related. During these years, I had able to learn and write valuable AutoLISP codes for AutoCAD. I thought I could earn from it but I never earn a centavo because Autocad users tend not to leave the original one. After that, I started learning other language, I had able to learn C++ on my own, throw few questions to DIC. After almost 2 years, I start earning from it. I have a sideline, a part-time C++ instructor in one of the school in here.

Architecture industry is not good as before, so its your decision where you are most fitted. If you feel that you are already an expert in .Net then look a descent job for it. It is also better if you will get MCAD and MCSD. Pscho has got those certificates.
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#4 doWhileSomething  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice Needed - Switching Careers in a Down Economy

Posted 08 January 2009 - 05:41 PM

View Posttoxicvoxel, on 7 Jan, 2009 - 01:01 PM, said:

I am an architect (the type that designs buildings!) with more than ten 15 years experience in my industry. When things are good it's a fantastic job but every ten years or so when the downturn comes it devastates the whole industry. The last time this happened I made a decision to get rid of my financial obligations and living debt free for a decade has been an immensely liberating experience. So 2009 comes around, credit crunch and I find I'm still not immune to the situation. So here the thing: I'm seriously thinking about sitting things out this year and getting a qualification in programming so that I have an alternative in the downswing. The question is what should I go for?

For those that think this bloke has lost the plot you may be right, but let me just say in my defence that I have actually done quite a few man-years of vb.net and other API programming in the architectural context writing software for various applications eg. automated stadium design, construction simulation and all kinds of glueing together disparate CAD, design and graphics apps. (I would be very defensive in showing anybody sample code but it gets the work done!) The point is I have a fairly good idea of how this kind of stuff works but I know that this will be inadequate to be considered outside the architectural environment.

So help me out here gents. I can invest 12 months and spend some money but I need to lay some foundation in that time. Is MSCAD the way to go or are there better alternatives?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.


I've been doing web/application development since 1999, but worked primarily as a mechanic/hydraulics engineer at a waste water plant. Three years ago I decided to try and get a full-time gig in programming. because it's what I had a passion for. I did not let money (I am making a lot more now) be the factor, I simply said this is what I want to do and i'm going to do it.

Before someone says something along the lines of "you probably didn't have any responsibilities" blah blah, wrong. I have and did have 2 kids, a fair mortgage and single (well I had two jobs) income.

My advice is if you love programming, then certainly get into it. If your thinking of doing it just because you feel you would be able to make money on the side or in rough times - I would say no.

Programming is very progressive, it's not like learning carpentry or electrical (not knocking these by the way), where once you learn it - your pretty much done. Technology changes every minute, step out for a year and you'll be lost when you return.

My 2 cents!
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#5 crummydo  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice Needed - Switching Careers in a Down Economy

Posted 22 January 2009 - 07:04 PM

You are atleast luckily that you are able to have a choice in the matter. After the Marines I was working as an electrician and had even passed my exam for the california state electricians certification. I was doing real well, but then the housing market started going down the crapper, as did my job when my boss couldn't afford to have ANY employees working for him. I was fat and happy one day, and jobless the next with no warning. I sat out for 3 months jobless.

Interview everyday, traveling across the state, out of state, and nothing. Finally got a call to be an equipment maintenance manager in Nevada because the new Ops Dir was a stickler for hiring Marines. Anyway, not that this had much to do with changing from a career in something and then moving to programming. But I am learning Access and SQL and have been building a maintenance management and inventory system. I hope one day I will be stable enough financially and the economy will be better so that I can get into my passion as well.
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#6 ajwsurfer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice Needed - Switching Careers in a Down Economy

Posted 03 February 2009 - 02:00 PM

I can tell you that I was a Carpenter and was laid off in the economic downturn around 1990. After a while, with no prospects for decent employment, I went to school to earn a BA in Computer Science. I have been busy and employed ever since. I can also tell you that I look forward to going to work every day. I really enjoy the work, the pay and the opportunities.

I realize that programming is not for everybody. If you hate it you should not be doing it, but if you are one of those people who really enjoy it, I would say "jump in with both feet".
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