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Career Story: Architectural Designer

Sophia just started a new job as a designer at an architecture firm. Hear about how she’s prioritizing her expenses as a recent graduate and setting financial goals for her future.

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I'm Sophia Hastings.
SOPHIA, 24
DESIGNER, ARCHITECTURE FIRM

I'm 24, and I am a designer
at an architecture firm.

We design mostly homes,
but also some office space,

hotels, things like that.

At the firm,
Robert is the boss and owner.

He's the only licensed architect here,

and then you have
the architectural designers

who are four people including myself.

Then, we have one intern.

An architectural designer
is someone who carries out

a project from beginning ideas,
initial sketches

all the way through a built,
inhabitable project.

Robert as the only licensed architect
is the only one who can stamp

these as an architect,
approve of them,

be held legally accountable for them.

But our role as architectural designers
is to help him through the process,

manage the project,
and do a lot of the work

required to finish and complete them.

My key responsibilities
in the design realm are
SOPHIA’S RESPONSIBILITIES:
DESIGN

attending client meetings,
taking notes, making 3D models
JOINT CLIENT MEETINGS, TAKE NOTES

on the computer of our projects.

Taking a lot of sketches
that Robert makes

and translating them
into construction drawings

on the computer.

And also a lot of site visits
and measuring.
CREATE COMPUTER MODELS OF DESIGNS
CREATE CONSTRUCTION DRAWINGS FROM
HAND-DRAWN DESIGNS
DO SITE VISITS AND MEASUREMENTS

In the permitting process,
my responsibilities are
PERMITTING

meeting with officials,
getting all the paperwork together
MEET WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND
OBTAIN PERMITS
PREPARE PERMITTING PAPERWORK

to make sure that a building
can be permitted,

and finally obtaining the permit.

Then, in the
construction administration side of it,
CONSTRUCTION

I focus on coordinating
with construction teams.
COMMUNICATE DESIGNS TO CONTR. TEAMS

Making sure that if there's a change

I issue a drawing to communicate
That to all the proper people.

And also overseeing
construction sites.
COMMUNICATE ABOUT CHANGES TO DESIGNS
OVERSEE CONTRACTOR’S WORK

My annual salary is about
$40,000.00 right now.
ON AVERAGE, AN UNLICENSED ARCHITECT
ON THE DESIGN STAFF MAKES $47,800 - $58,000

I make $20.00 an hour.
I work eight hour days.
ANNUALLY DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE FIRM.
A LICENSED ARCHITECT WITH 10 YEARS

That come to about $3200.00
that I'm taking home per month.
EXPERIENCE MAKES $91,000 ANNUALLY ON AVERAGE.
SOURCE: THE AMERICA INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS, AIA.ORG

I am an independent contractor
right now, because initially
EMPLOYERS DO NOT DEDUCT TAXES FROM
THE PAYCHECKS OF A 1099 CONTRACTOR.

I was only going to be here
temporarily, which made sense.
A 1099 CONTRACT EMPLOYEE IS
RESPONSIBLE FOR SAVING FOR AND

What that means is that
I don't get taxes
PAYING THEIR TAXES AT THE END
OF THE YEAR.

taken out of my paycheck,
so I get the full amount,

and I'm responsible for my own taxes

at the end of the year.

Right now, I'm in transition
of becoming a full-time employee

where I will get taxes taken out
and get full benefits.

My worst day on this job was
I had just started working here,

and I had made some drawings
to send to the contractor

on site for something we were doing.

And we got a call in the office.

There were walls where there

weren't supposed to be walls
like built in the physical world.

That had never happened to me before.

It was because of my drawings,
so I freaked out.

That was a big day for me.
I redrew it.

Robert got the contractor
to take out the drywall

that they had already put in
and stuff.

He said, you know,
that's part of the job.

It happens all the time,

but because it was my first time
ever experiencing that,

it was really scary.

I'm Sophia Hastings.
SOPHIA, 24
DESIGNER, ARCHITECTURE FIRM

I'm 24, and I am a designer
at an architecture firm.

We design mostly homes,
but also some office space,

hotels, things like that.

At the firm,
Robert is the boss and owner.

He's the only licensed architect here,

and then you have
the architectural designers

who are four people including myself.

Then, we have one intern.

An architectural designer
is someone who carries out

a project from beginning ideas,
initial sketches

all the way through a built,
inhabitable project.

Robert as the only licensed architect
is the only one who can stamp

these as an architect,
approve of them,

be held legally accountable for them.

But our role as architectural designers
is to help him through the process,

manage the project,
and do a lot of the work

required to finish and complete them.

My key responsibilities
in the design realm are
SOPHIA’S RESPONSIBILITIES:
DESIGN

attending client meetings,
taking notes, making 3D models
JOINT CLIENT MEETINGS, TAKE NOTES

on the computer of our projects.

Taking a lot of sketches
that Robert makes

and translating them
into construction drawings

on the computer.

And also a lot of site visits
and measuring.
CREATE COMPUTER MODELS OF DESIGNS
CREATE CONSTRUCTION DRAWINGS FROM
HAND-DRAWN DESIGNS
DO SITE VISITS AND MEASUREMENTS

In the permitting process,
my responsibilities are
PERMITTING

meeting with officials,
getting all the paperwork together
MEET WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND
OBTAIN PERMITS
PREPARE PERMITTING PAPERWORK

to make sure that a building
can be permitted,

and finally obtaining the permit.

Then, in the
construction administration side of it,
CONSTRUCTION

I focus on coordinating
with construction teams.
COMMUNICATE DESIGNS TO CONTR. TEAMS

Making sure that if there's a change

I issue a drawing to communicate
That to all the proper people.

And also overseeing
construction sites.
COMMUNICATE ABOUT CHANGES TO DESIGNS
OVERSEE CONTRACTOR’S WORK

My annual salary is about
$40,000.00 right now.
ON AVERAGE, AN UNLICENSED ARCHITECT
ON THE DESIGN STAFF MAKES $47,800 - $58,000

I make $20.00 an hour.
I work eight hour days.
ANNUALLY DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE FIRM.
A LICENSED ARCHITECT WITH 10 YEARS

That come to about $3200.00
that I'm taking home per month.
EXPERIENCE MAKES $91,000 ANNUALLY ON AVERAGE.
SOURCE: THE AMERICA INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS, AIA.ORG

I am an independent contractor
right now, because initially
EMPLOYERS DO NOT DEDUCT TAXES FROM
THE PAYCHECKS OF A 1099 CONTRACTOR.

I was only going to be here
temporarily, which made sense.
A 1099 CONTRACT EMPLOYEE IS
RESPONSIBLE FOR SAVING FOR AND

What that means is that
I don't get taxes
PAYING THEIR TAXES AT THE END
OF THE YEAR.

taken out of my paycheck,
so I get the full amount,

and I'm responsible for my own taxes

at the end of the year.

Right now, I'm in transition
of becoming a full-time employee

where I will get taxes taken out
and get full benefits.

My worst day on this job was
I had just started working here,

and I had made some drawings
to send to the contractor

on site for something we were doing.

And we got a call in the office.

There were walls where there

weren't supposed to be walls
like built in the physical world.

That had never happened to me before.

It was because of my drawings,
so I freaked out.

That was a big day for me.
I redrew it.

Robert got the contractor
to take out the drywall

that they had already put in
and stuff.

He said, you know,
that's part of the job.

It happens all the time,

but because it was my first time
ever experiencing that,

it was really scary.